Luisa Tam
SCMP Columnist
The Naked Truth
by Luisa Tam
The Naked Truth
by Luisa Tam

How belief can be empowering or limiting, and how you can use it to change your sex life, behaviour and attitude

  • Positive beliefs are empowering and can shape your behaviour, motivation, attitudes and sex life
  • Beliefs can also be negative and limiting, and these should be avoided or changed, says a relationship expert

Some believe we have the power to use our beliefs to shape our reality, and this in turn means that we can think our way to bettering ourselves and our lives.

If our beliefs can affect our attitudes and behaviours, then it is pertinent that we maintain positive beliefs, especially in a world that is so heavily influenced by outside factors that are often out of our control.

And on a personal level, our beliefs can help shape our behaviour and in turn benefit our romantic relationships and even our sex life.

First, we have to understand that a belief is an idea that we hold as being true and that it can come from different sources such as our own experiences, our acceptance of cultural and societal norms and what others tell us. When we accept such information as truth, we then incorporate it into our individual belief system.

Michelle Harris is a personal, relationship and couples’ empowerment guide, and energy healing specialist. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

Michelle Harris, a personal, relationship and couples’ empowerment guide, and energy healing specialist, aptly describes beliefs as our personal barometer. “They have a huge impact on our sense of survival. We use our beliefs to keep us safe. That is why we generally try to preserve our beliefs after they are formed and guard them carefully, as we assume they are fact,” she says.

Our beliefs determine if we feel something or someone to be good or bad, right or wrong, desirable or undesirable, safe or dangerous, she says. They also determine what we consider to be possible or achievable, and consequently how we motivate ourselves.

If you believe you are unlovable, your negative attitude could affect how people perceive you, leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Photo: Shutterstock

In short, we all have beliefs about ourselves, the way we see others and the world. And when we have deeply rooted beliefs, we cling to them (often subconsciously), and our minds will look for proof to validate them.

“Beliefs are our way of making sense of our world, how we see ourselves, and how we relate to others and our environment. They influence our behaviour and attitudes. Therefore, our beliefs also affect our well-being, our happiness, and how successful we are,” she says.

For example, we may believe we are “not good enough” and so that causes us to maintain a negative and pessimistic attitude. We may adopt the behaviour of not trying because we feel we will fail anyway.

Your beliefs can lift you up or hold you back. Illustration: Marcelo Duhalde

Harris explains how beliefs are created. “Your beliefs are created through your experiences, through your cultural exposure, your conditioning, what you have witnessed through your upbringing, or a combination of these. Your soul also has certain beliefs it has chosen to embody in your life experience.”

Our beliefs may remain static or change, and we all have the power to change them, she says. “It is said that during the first seven years of our lives, our belief systems are fairly well formed and embedded into our subconscious. It’s like a seed being planted … it grows as you water it (i.e. the more you focus on it) and then becomes a flower, a plant, or even a weed.”

The good news is, you can change these underlying beliefs and create new ones, so you experience something different in your reality, she says.

Empowering beliefs lead to positive thoughts and outcomes. Photo: Shutterstock

We also have what we may call empowering beliefs or limiting beliefs. “Limiting beliefs prevent us from fulfilling our potential … and they also give rise to negative thoughts and emotions,” Harris says.

On the other hand, she says, empowering beliefs help us believe in ourselves, and give rise to positive thoughts and emotions. They help motivate us and boost our sense of self, our identity and self-perception.

“It is considered that our beliefs create our reality, but most people are not aware of their own beliefs because they have never taken the time to look at them,” she says. This explains why some people seem to thrive and succeed – despite the most difficult circumstances – while others suffer.

To build empowering beliefs, Harris says we first need to form beliefs and then look for evidence (consciously and unconsciously) in support of them.

Childhood and early development trauma can lead to limiting beliefs later in life. Photo: Shutterstock
On the relationship front, she says limiting core beliefs about relationships often show up due to unresolved wounds from our childhood or early development, which trigger overwhelming emotional responses into adulthood. As a result, she says, you may see people lash out, withdraw, refuse to be accountable for their actions, or avoid relationships altogether.

On how to shape and keep positive beliefs, Harris offers the following advice. “Identify the core beliefs that are being triggered and develop new ways of responding to (often) intense emotional reactions that can come when triggered. Learn to respond differently, to change limiting and dysfunctional core beliefs to create healthier relationships and healthy dynamics.”

Our relationships are a gateway to help us see how we perceive ourselves, others and the world around us. Whatever we believe is reflected back and will consequently impact our relationships, she says.

You can change the way you think about yourself, which can help you behave differently and attract you to different experiences. You can imprint empowering beliefs to do so
Michelle Harris, a personal, relationship and couples’ empowerment guide, and energy healing specialist

If we believe we are unlovable, we tend to attract people who are perhaps non-committal or we end up in relationships where we constantly feel rejected or unworthy.

On the contrary, if we have self-love and feel a level of confidence in relationships, we are more likely to attract healthy and loving partnerships, Harris says.

Meanwhile, if you hold certain beliefs around performance, or sexuality or intimacy, then it may be reflected through your sex life. For example, if you believe that people only want you for sex, you may find yourself attracting situations that reinforce that.

Harris offers some advice on how to improve sexual intimacy.

If you believe sex is dirty, or have hang-ups about your body, it can stop you enjoying sex. Photo: Shutterstock

“To improve how you feel about sex, first identify the beliefs or blocks you may be holding around it.

“For example, if you believe sex is ‘dirty’, then this puts a block on you really enjoying sex. If you have hang-ups about your body, you will feel self-conscious, thereby inhibiting your enjoyment of sex.”

To improve your romantic relationship, she advises: “You can change the way you think about yourself, which can help you behave differently and attract you to different experiences. You can imprint empowering beliefs to do so.”

But it’s not just about the mind, she says. “Your heart also has a part to play. It’s about opening your heart to love and positive experiences. If you believe it is possible to have a loving, healthy relationship, you will.”

Luisa Tam is a correspondent at the Post