If you want to make life improvements, what you believe about life may be your biggest stumbling block. As a self empowered person working to build a better life you may need to adopt the saying that believing is seeing.

If you're a person who believes that seeing is believing, you may be limiting your own growth.Seeing is believing may be the test of truth for many of us, but that doesn't mean that what we see is truth. We tend to see what we expect to see based on what we believe. I may read and re-read this article five times and still not see a misspelling, extra word, or missing word. I read what I expect to see and I believe I've seen it correctly.

To foster a foundation for strong personal growth, changethat phrase to read: believing is seeing. What you and Ibelieve will determine what we see. Beliefs are very strong,witness the number of terrorists willing to take their ownlives in pursuit of their beliefs. But before we examine thelink between beliefs and self empowerment, lets review ourfive senses and the roles they play in our lives.

We obviously rely on our senses for safety and security,watching for danger around us, listening for unusual soundsaround the home at night, sniffing the air for signs ofsmoke, and carefully approaching the hot pan before grabbingit.

We also tend to depend on our senses to explain the worldaround us. Most of us believe that the world we experiencethrough our five senses is reality. The sayings, "seeing isbelieving," and "I'll believe it when I see it," representour dependence on sight to confirm reality. Recall that most people at one time thought the world was flat; that's the way it appeared. Some few, though, saw beyond their sense of sight and believed the distant horizon was not the edge of the world; they were right and whole new vistas of reality opened because of their vision.

Recall the phrase, "a picture is worth 1000 words?" Theimplication here is that a picture tells the truth, whilewords can be deceiving. Now with digital photography, we'velearned that we can't really trust a picture. Even I caneasily manipulate a picture to remove or include objects. All is not as it appears.

We all know human hearing is limited. As we age, we lose highfrequency sensitivity. Many animals respond to frequencieseven youthful humans cannot hear. It is only recently thatscientists found that elephants communicate through very lowfrequency sounds--sounds that travel tremendous distances intheir native habitats. We know that sounds exist that wecannot hear.

Similarly, our senses of touch, smell, and taste are verylimited. Not only do our sensitivities to these vary, but ourinterpretations vary too. Something that tastes salty to memay be perfect for you. Pleasant odors to you may bedistasteful to me.

Scientists, with fair regularity, uncover aspects of ourworld well beyond our senses. From black holes to quarks todimensions beyond our space-time reality, there is more toreality than we can currently explain.

It's not only our vision that sometimes deceives us; our minds contribute, too. We see what we expect to see based on our beliefs. When you stop to think about it, that makes perfect sense. Why would I "see" something that contradicts what I believe? Most of us, most of the time, refuse to do that, albeit subconsciously. Scientists even have a term for this phenomena. It's called cognitive dissonance, cognitive for thinking and dissonance for harsh inconsistency. We prefer to see consistent with our thinking.

You've observed this before with a friend or relative whosmokes, but refuses to acknowledge that the risks of smoking apply to them. If you've just bought a new object, especiallysomething that you looked for carefully and made a studieddecision to purchase, you'll tend to overlook defects orlimitations that turn up because to acknowledge theminvalidates your belief that you made a wise decision.Cognitive dissonance gives us blinders that scientists termscotomas, blind spots we can't see because to see them wouldrequire changing a belief.

If you have strong, long term beliefs about certain peoplebased on gender, age, race, or national origin, you'll have ascotoma to characteristics that belie that belief.

Now, what does all this have to do with self-empowerment?Well, our beliefs about ourselves and the world around usgive us scotomas, blind spots, about who we are and who wecan become. An example of this is the once broadly heldbelief that women are inherently inferior to men in math andscience. The saying, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks"captures another widely held belief about older people.

Don't get me wrong, the beliefs we hold dear aren't all bad.In fact, our beliefs can be very helpful to us, when they arehelpful to us. The empowered person learns to use belief toimprove and to grow.

Belief about self is one of the critical components of aperson's growth. A strong self image is fundamental to thedecision to take over responsibility for one's life. A personwith low self image very likely will not feel sufficientlyconfident to take full responsibility, preferring instead tolet others determine their life direction.

Our beliefs not only impact what we see, but they affectevery aspect of our lives. As Bert Carson said, "We are moretotally confined by our old ideas than a prison inmate isconfined by the walls of his cell." Beliefs can be our prisonwalls or our source of freedom. They are that strong aninfluence upon us.

Here are some ways to strengthen your sense of self-empowerment.

1. Recall your successes. Think about past achievements and recognize the part you played in this success. Refrain from diminishing your role. Instead, give yourself as much credit as you comfortably can.

2. Read about other people's lives, especially those who have overcome difficult situations to achieve their dreams. These people have the same inherent abilities you have. We're all created with the natural ability to succeed at our dreams. The primary determinants of success are attitude and perseverance.

3. Allow yourself to consider the possibility that you can achieve whatever you dream. Daydream readily about your successes, encouraging yourself to visualize how it will be when (not if) you achieve your dreams.

4. Accept that your beliefs are simply ideas you hold about yourself and the world around you, ideas that you've accumulated to help you understand and explain your surroundings. Reflect on beliefs you hold that may be preventing you from the growth you desire; change beliefs that restrict you.

This article first appeared at Suite101.com

Author's Bio: 

Copywrite 2005, all rights reserved. Jerry Lopper is anauthor, personal coach, and consultant. Find your true purpose in life at http://www.YourCoachtoSuccess.com. Review his latest book at http://jumpforjoy.yourcoachtosuccess.com.

If you are a peaceful person, or someone seeking peace amidst chaos, visit http://livingpeace.YourCoachtoSuccess.com.