The Most Important Belief To Change

There is one belief that is the most essential belief you need to change if you want a permanent shift in your life.

Where Do Beliefs Come From?

Sometimes, it can seem that beliefs come from our minds. They seem to appear out of nowhere to tell us which end is up. Beliefs can have a sacred quality in that they can seem very certain of their truth, opinion, and perception. Beliefs have the air and energy of authority, making it seem like we are taking our lives into our own hands when we challenge them. So, beliefs can be very unnerving.

Beliefs are primarily created through experience and culture. Many human beliefs were created early in human history and passed down through many centuries of human activity, exploration, trial and error.

Different Sources Of Beliefs

Beliefs that come from experience can be the most challenging when they seem to tell us some sort of truth. So let’s say you work with someone who always comes in late to work. This has been going on for years. You see this person as someone who has a difficult time managing time. You may be right. But maybe the person has a reason. Your experience has caused you to form a belief that may or may not be true, and is certainly not the totality of that other person. But you have nonetheless formed a belief that colors your perception of that person. So, that is one way we develop beliefs.

Another is through the feedback we get from others. When you are young, you learn about yourself from feedback or perceptions others relay to you. Of course, when we are young, we are pretty rough around the edges, and we do not know the source of the feedback we are getting and usually assume that we are getting accurate information about ourselves – depending on what it is about, of course. An example from my experience: I was sent for remedial writing when I was young because my father did not like my writing. I became afraid to write because I could not write like someone else; I could only write what I had to say, not what someone else wanted, so I became very anxious about writing. I was fortunate to have an English teacher in high school who liked one of my compositions and encouraged me. That was helpful but not enough to dislodge the belief that I was a poor writer. That took a long time – and a lot of writing!

There is another source of beliefs: culture. This one can be hard to get your arms around. Every cultural system has beliefs; those beliefs make a difference in the structure of the society. So, capitalism has a belief in limitlessness. I am using this as an example. The reality, though, is that there are only so many hours in the day and weeks in a year, and we each have only so many years on this planet. When a culture is organized around a belief like limitlessness, it is reflected in the norms, expectations, and organizational strategies that are adopted. So, if you work for someone with beliefs in limitlessness, you may find the job difficult because the demands are so great that you can have difficulty balancing your own needs.  People who believe in limitlessness do not like to hear the world, No. So, these are some sources of beliefs that can show up in our lives that we may find difficult to handle.

There are so many different beliefs from all sorts of cultures and experiences that can be hard to handle. But there is one in particular that can invite extreme hardship for a lot of people, which we will tackle now.

Survival Narrative And Beliefs

One of the things that most people do not know is that, as a species, we evolve and develop skills THROUGH culture. One of the purposes of culture is and has been to create the skills and resources so we can survive. The journey has been extremely difficult, and we have created different cultural systems for different purposes. A tribal system is about community, and capitalism has been about material well-being. They each have their place in our human journey and have each made different contributions to human life. However, they each are part of a particular focus, which is survival. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

So, each cultural system has been a step in creating what we need to survive. There is another wrinkle here. Each cultural system is the anchor for the people in it, and if you ask them, they will tell you that it is what life is all about. Since that is where people get their sense of safety and because people do not have a lot of perspective about the longer journey we have been on through cultural systems, many, if not most people, treat other cultural systems and their members as a threat. They do this because they get their safety and security from the system they are a part of.

Change

We have survived as a species and have actually reached the end of the story of survival as our primary focus. That means we need to let go of it. We need to make space for a new focus that will let us take what has been accomplished and make it the foundation for a world built for thriving, which is a more long-sighted approach to life. That means we need to give up more than the belief that life is about survival since it will always matter. We also have to give up one belief that has been an important part of this journey; it is the belief that change is bad, that it is destructive, to be avoided and prevented as much as possible.

One of the most important reasons we are having so much difficulty is because of our negative relationship with change. Fix that and a lot of things will be come possible and that will be a wonderful breath of fresh air for all of us.

Image: Elizabeth Jurenka at Unsplash

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