One of the more interesting things I’ve encountered as a writer is the phenomenon of belief. This is true not only for me as a writer, but also when I’m developing my characters. In all of my books, the central characters hold beliefs that they later find out to be false. Part of the journey is learning this. In Grief, Inc, when Holly learns that she is going to die within six months, she realizes that the value she has placed on work has left her a life devoid of meaningful relationships. She also comes to learn that her belief that there is no afterlife is false, and that what she does in this life has a profound impact on not only others in this life but on the life to come. The most interesting part about writing characters like this is that for them, their false belief is their truth and that they don’t unlearn it easily.
So it is for real life characters too. I went to a seminar once where the speaker demonstrated that our beliefs construct our reality. The example he used was a hypnotized person believing that they could not lift a string. I guess scientists (or someone, I forget this part) measured the pressure the person was exuding with their biceps to lift the string and it was significant. So why didn’t the string move? It was because the person was exuding equal pressure with their triceps to counteract the biceps. Essentially, the person was subconsciously exerting as much effort to thwart their goal as they were to achieve it. HOLY MACKERAL, talk about a revelation!! This concept that our subconscious will do whatever is necessary to uphold our beliefs it one of the most impactful things I have ever learned, and nothing I have learned since has contradicted this truth that our beliefs shape our reality.
Someone will ask, “How do you know if you have negative or limiting beliefs?” The answer is very simple. Are you living the life you want or not? If you aren’t, you have limiting beliefs plain and simple. Yes, there is a process and yes things don’t happen overnight. This isn’t magical thinking, but if you believe you can achieve something and believe you are working towards it, you will be satisfied. If you think what you want is out of your grasp, that hopelessness will ensure your happiness is out of your grasp as well. Because this is such a huge part of my belief system, it is important for me to show my characters changing their beliefs, so that they can start doing things differently and experience a new reality.