Believing and Hoping: Changing and Stereotyping Ourselves

Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet - Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road and pursuing your dreams

“For years I thought we shared a secret… that we would be wonderful in the world. I didn’t exactly know how, but just the possibility… kept me hoping.”

That is from one of many powerful scenes in the movie “Revolutionary Road” – April Wheeler (Kate Winslet) is talking to a friend about the dreams she and her husband Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio, in the photo) had about living more passionately and authentically in Paris, away from their financially comfortable, but stultifying, life in a Connecticut suburb during the 1950s.

April goes on to bemoan the erosion of those dreams, especially hurtful to her: “How pathetic is that? To put all your hopes in a promise that was never made? See, Frank knows… he knows what he wants. He’s found his place. He’s just fine. Married, two kids. It should be enough. It is for him. He’s right; we were never special or destined or anything at all. I saw a different life. I can’t stop seeing it.”

Winslet’s deeply emotional portrayal of a woman caught in a life far away from her visions of what she might have had is wrenching at times, and a reminder of how spiritually vital it is to not settle for being less than we can be, or at least not give up the pursuit to realize our dreams and talents.

Believing in ourselves

In seeing a different life, living more fully, we are influenced by many things, including ones beyond our direct control.

Belief in who we are and what is possible for us is probably one of the most crucial elements, and shapes our dreams and affects our hopes.

In his Positive Psychology News Daily article Toward a Hopeful New Year, Louis Alloro notes, “There are many components to pursuing and achieving goals. Hope is arguably the first of these components.

“Hope creates the space for new possibilities to exist. Hope fuels two types of thinking: agency thinking (belief in yourself, and that you can achieve your goals) and pathway thinking (developing the steps you are going to have to take to make it happen).”

He quotes Edwin Locke: “the idea guides action to attain the object”.

Edwin A. Locke, Ph.D., is Dean’s Professor (Emeritus) of Leadership and Motivation at the R.H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. One of his books is The Prime Movers: Traits of the Great Wealth Creators.

One of the definitions of belief is “confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof.”

When belief becomes dogma

So belief can be fuel for hope, but it is all too easy to hold on to distorted and limiting beliefs.

Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth; The Power of Now) warns in his article Don’t Take Your Thoughts Too Seriously that “Dogmas — religious, political, scientific — arise out of the erroneous belief that thought can encapsulate reality or the truth.

“Dogmas are collective conceptual prisons. And the strange thing is that people love their prison cells because they give them a sense of security and a false sense of ‘I know.’

“It is true that every dogma crumbles sooner or later, because reality will eventually disclose its falseness; however, unless the basic delusion of it is seen for what it is, it will be replaced by others.

“What is this basic delusion? Identification with thought. Spiritual awakening is awakening from the dream of thought.”

In their book Simple Buddhism: A Guide To Enlightened Living, C. Alexander Simpkins, Phd and Annellen M. Simpkins, Phd explain, “We desire pleasant sensations to continue and unpleasant ones to stop. These desires bring about a desiring state of mind, which leads to grasping after things to satisfy the desire, creating a grasping state of mind.

“Such thoughts can lead us into difficulty. False beliefs and assumptions create states of mind that bias and limit our perception.”

Stereotyping ourselves

An example of how belief limits our perception is the phenomenon of stereotype threat.

“Studies conducted at Harvard University in 1999 by Margaret Shih and her co-investigators provide particularly good demonstrations of this point. The participants in this research were Asian women.

Sisi Chen“In different conditions of the studies they were required to focus on the fact either that they were women (who are stereotypically worse at math than men) or that they were Asian (stereotypically better at math than members of other ethnic groups)… in the former case the women performed worse than they did when no group membership was made salient. Yet in the latter case they did better.”

From article How Stereotyping Yourself Contributes to Your Success (or Failure), Scientific American Mind, April, 2008.

The photo is from the 2004-05 Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science and Technology: Regional Finalist Sisi Chen of Georgia; her project : “Expressing Integers Using the Least Number of Ones.”

There are endless kinds of stereotypes that can influence our thinking. ‘The Big Idea’ tv series (CNBC) features business and financial experts talking about small business success. Many if not most of the guests, along with interviewer Donny Deutsch, have enthusiastic and self-assured personalities. Unlike me. So I catch myself sometimes when I watch the show (not that often) having thoughts like, “How can I be a successful entrepreneur being so introverted and averse to attention?”

Feed your mind

Of course, there are many countering examples – people who are not exuberant personalities, yet successful in developing business projects. That is one of the appeals of internet or search marketing.

Business and success philosopher Jim Rohn advises, “It is up to you to do the work of changing your beliefs. And when you do you will be opening up new worlds..

“Feed your mind with information that will change your belief… The truth is that you have an amazing mind with a capacity for learning that is beyond your comprehension. You must believe this. And when you do, you will be unlocking the potential of your mind.”

To help explore your thinking and belief systems, the site has a number of resources including

Awareness – thinking Articles

Awareness/consciousness Products / Programs.


Social Emotional Health Program for Creative, Gifted, Highly Sensitive People

* Note – Links to programs and products may be affiliate links, which means a company or publisher provides a small commission to me (paid by them, at no cost to you) if you decide to purchase. This helps support my efforts in creating the free content you read here and on my other sites, plus helps pay for costs such as website hosting. As an Amazon Associate, and an affiliate representing some other companies such as Sounds True, as well as a few coaches and psychologists, I provide links to products and programs that may be helpful to creative people. Thanks for visiting.