This is a core question. First I would ask you: do you experience it this way? Have you moved from a period where you doubted less and when you doubted more you noticed you had more power and freedom. The I think we have to look at this word belief. Most people, when they think of belief, think it is something they have come to rationally. They think it is words in their minds that they notice and agree with. They often think that evidence would make them change their minds or a good argument would. I think that is a minor subset of beliefs. I think we are much more imprinted with beliefs then we realize and that their roots go deep. I do not think they are easy to change and some time in the sciforums has shown me (again) that really people are almost never rationally persuaded. It happens, but it is damn rare. Experience however can be effective. But the if beliefs contrain, limit, change, control what we are and experience - which I believe - then the beliefs will prevent certain experiences from happening. if you believe no one will ever be attracted to you and beliefs constrain reality, reality will prevent experience from changing this AND rational arguments will have little effect also. (remember how, perhaps, one of your parents explained that really you are cute or whatever and how little effect that had) I think there is a way out of this conundrum AND to hold that beliefs literally shape reality but I think it is important to acknowledge that 1) we don't always notice what we believe 2) some beliefs are very deeply rooted I think you probably can and that some elderly people whose spouses die do this precisely and effectively.