Wondering where our beliefs come from is a common thread in the responses to WCN messages. In looking over past comments, this one popped to the forefront, because the situation that sparked the question has become more and more common, as we sift through the news of the day.
“I was having a conversation with friends the other night. We were talking about our beliefs, mostly political. We each had very strong beliefs about right and wrong and how our government handles itself. Thankfully, we were all on the same page. But, we were trying to figure out where our beliefs came from. We were not able to pin it down to parents, high school, college, friends, or any other specific. Do you have any thoughts on that?”
The first thing that came to mind was that this group had answered their own question: parents, teachers, professors in college, friends, the newspapers, internet, radio, TV – all of these sources, and many more, affect our belief system. With so much information coming at us from every angle these days, and a fair amount of it contradictory, it becomes vitally important to be skeptical about what we take in as well as from whom, because once we give sanction to the information, it becomes a belief.
The challenge for most of us is that a lot of this information came at us when we were very young. We didn’t have the ability, at the time, to discriminate between “truth” and “opinion.” However, because the information came from authority figures, we didn’t question it. We agreed with whatever we heard. It then became “truth” for us and got stored in our subconscious to form the foundation for our future decision-making.
One of the key principles in the Institute’s education is, “Our thoughts accumulate to become beliefs.” The more we think about something, the more it becomes a part of who we are. These thoughts are reinforced by that constant conversation that goes on in our heads and become beliefs. Then these beliefs play out in our actions and behaviors. So, it becomes very important that we are careful what we listen to, and from whom we get the information. Like the old saying goes, “Don’t believe everything you hear” – or see or read. It’s time to cultivate a discerning mind.
The good news, now that we are adults, is that we can examine our beliefs and toss out the ones that no longer serve us, or those that actually cause us harm. It does require time for a little self-reflection, but it will be time well spent.