Beliefs can seem like they define us, like they make us who we are. We might say, I AM a Republican, I AM a scientist, I AM a wife, or I AM a certain religion, when actually, we just choose (consciously or unconsciously) to believe or experience these things. Those beliefs may only last for a season of our life. Over time, our eyes and hearts can be opened to allow our beliefs to transform and evolve. Today’s article shows us how to recognize when we’ve mistaken our belief for who we are, and ways we can choose beliefs that are true for us.
Truth is intriguing and rare, a treasure that sometimes offends.
To find and know truth requires love for life and willing curiosity to look and learn. If we feel afraid and/or angry at the idea of looking at and/or questioning our personal beliefs, it’s best to quit reading now, or run the risk of self-offense.
We’re all born into a belief system.
During our early years, and even as adults, family members may encourage each other to believe things that may be supportive, or, that simply “keep things as they are,” “don’t rock the boat,” and simply aren’t true. For example, family members may swear by the existence of: a chimney rider who bears surprise gifts based on our “good behavior,” a monster under the bed who is only scary if we get up to bother the adult (again, based on our behavior), a religion that requires us to wait for happiness until we are dead (again, based on “good behavior”), or that our deadbeat dad is actually a cowboy vigilante who’s off fighting bad guys and that’s why he’s never home. False beliefs and our choice to cling to them can run deep.
Does it seem normal to believe lies?
Since we may have absorbed these family beliefs at an early age, it may seem “normal” to us to believe things that aren’t true, thinking, “everybody does it.” As we grow up, we may never look at these beliefs, and we may pass them on to our own children. We may never have reflected on whether or not those beliefs are beneficial to us or our children, or whether or not they are true.
Are our beliefs true?
Chances are, most of us carry a belief or two that is not true. For example, let’s say that we mistakenly believe that we are the smartest person in the room, because our mother always told us so. In this instance, that belief can become fused and inseparable in our mind, from who we think we ARE. If we’ve never reflected on whether or not it’s true, we may mistakenly believe that we truly are the smartest.
“What we’ve got here, is a failure to communicate.”
When this happens, whether we believe we’re the smartest, the funniest, the cutest, the prettiest, the richest, or most powerful, etc., we may be unable to accept when others disagree with our beliefs. If we believe we are, for example, the smartest person in the room, then ANYTHING that may happen that disagrees with that belief will be seen as offensive, causing us to feel irritated, angry, and/or attack whomever we may perceive as challenging our belief. Next will arise the need to defend the belief, because, in our mind, it’s not just a belief that person disagrees with, it is US they have attacked. When we are in that state of mind, we are no longer fighting for a side of an argument, so to speak, we are in a fight for our very own right to be who we are—the smartest. Since in our mind we ARE the belief, the belief cannot be wrong. If the belief was wrong, it would need to be let go, and we wouldn’t know who we are. And finding out who we really are may seem less important than arguing our “rightness” with the person who we believe is “wrong.”
Our way or the highway?
Although this tyrannical example of believing that we are the smartest may not apply to us, we may, however, believe that at least one or two of our beliefs are right for everyone. It’s our way or the highway. We know this applies to us if any part of us feels sorry for, criticizes, shuns, or tries to shame people who don’t agree with our beliefs. That part of our belief system has valid reasons for being so strict—it seeks admiration, attention, affection by being right. Instead of meeting these needs by holding everyone else hostage to agree with our beliefs, we can meet these needs by growing and learning more about ourself and life.
As we become introspective, we become closer to our truth, and can change our beliefs as needed. Life is change, and there is always new information. Beliefs are only a perspective, after all. What one person believes is smart… another believes is not. And no matter how smart we are, we are also dumb about something. There is more that we don’t know than we do know. If we can remember that, then there is ALWAYS more to learn.
To know if our beliefs are true, we can kindly and curiously ask within.
This can help us gain some perspective. As adults, we can open the lid on tightly-held beliefs, and see if they hold up in the light of truth. We can ask, “Do our beliefs make us better beings—or do they need to go?” To find our true answers, we need to ask our questions with kindness and curiosity without judging or criticizing what we learn. We can ask ourself questions like, “Do I really believe that?” and “Is that my truth?”
Truth builds our self-esteem, poise and willpower.
When we know what we believe and why, we allow ourselves the opportunity to courageously stand for that. When we make choices, even seemingly small ones—in our truth, we can grow our feelings of self-worth, gain poise and strength to weather difficult situations, and build willpower to make our very best choices.