The power of persuasion has never been as persuasive as it is today. What you believe right now might be shattered or at least begin to wobble with news of the next ground-breaking study.

In 2002, a study by researchers at the Duke University Medical Center showed that caffeine taken in the morning has effects on the body that persist until bedtime and amplifies stress consistently throughout the day. Fast forward to 2011, “Recent studies say coffee may be good for the cardiovascular system and might help prevent strokes — a repudiation of previous research,” as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Who and what do you believe?

Your beliefs are the foundation of your life. They play a significant part in the production of your life story. They influence not only the direction for your life, but the types of people you choose to have in it. And beliefs often act as dramatic change agents.

A revealing study in the 1950s was conducted by the late Dr. Stewart Wolf, a pioneer of psychosomatic medicine (involving both the mind and the body). He studied pregnant women who endured persistent nausea and vomiting. The women were told they would be given a drug that would cure the problem. It did. They were given ipecac — a substance that normally causes vomiting. But the women experienced the opposite effect. They felt fine. Their belief reversed the proven action of a potent drug.

But not all beliefs are created equal. Some are tenuous and dilute easily, and others have the power to dramatically change and alter your personal reality. The story that follows is an example of this.

A young man was traveling and spent one night in an old farmhouse. He awakened in the middle of the night gasping for air. In the dark he made his way to a window, but it wouldn’t open. In desperation he sailed his fist through it, shattering the glass, then took in gulps of fresh air. He went back to bed and slept soundly.

Early the next morning he saw that all the windows were intact. As he surveyed the room, a solitary bookcase with glass doors came into view. The pane of one door was shattered. There had been no fresh air. His belief, in the moment, had become his reality.

His belief under stress supported his immediate need. But what about our ordinary day-to-day living experiences? Do your beliefs support your needs? Do they support your desires?

Our beliefs can put a wrench between success and failure, poverty and abundance, self-worth and self-sabotage. For example, if you’re overweight and can’t lose weight or can’t keep it off, then look at the belief that is stopping you from reaching your goal.

You can tell yourself this time it will be different. You can state your intentions, visualize and chant affirmations and still fail to meet your goal if you have an underlying belief that says you’re not worth the desired result.

The way to discover the belief is through self-appraisal. The way to determine the cause of a problem is to go within. This is not a quick-fix process and sometimes requires outside help and support, but it’s worth the effort. The alternative is for the self-defeating pattern to repeat over and over.

It is my belief that weeding out old, nonsupportive beliefs and integrating new beliefs that support us and our desire to make a better a life is the highest form of creativity.

Coming out from under the influence of old, self-defeating beliefs is liberating. It frees you to move from being a victim to creating a life filled with what you love and, more importantly, loving yourself in the process.

Susan Ann Darley is a creativity coach, arts writer and author. Through coaching and writing, she motivates people to use their talents and market their creative projects. For more information, click here, e-mail her at or call 805.845.3036.