Did that headline get your attention?
I hope so.
Beliefs are so very important to our lives. They shape what we do, don’t do and won’t do.
But where do beliefs come from?
One way of understanding this very complex question is they come from those who raised us and our peer groups.
Being part of a family and having friends is a fundamental part of being human. Belonging and not being separate is vital to (a good) human life.
A big part of belonging is sharing beliefs; feeling that those around are like you, that they share your thoughts on important matters.
And beliefs are things that are installed in our minds, mostly our sub-conscious, and exert great, hidden, influence. This is largely for the sake of efficiency (in day-to-day living).
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The key take-away here is that we have all these, essentially hidden, beliefs that exert great control over our lives, but they were not consciously chosen and to the extent we had any role in taking them on, it was mostly long ago.
Imagine you have a GPS in your car and the maps and software hasn’t updated in a long time. Yet you continue to rely on it for directions. Further, let’s say that new roads have been built and exisiting ones modified. Yet, you’re still taking the same routes.
To make your GPS better you can do two things: 1) update the map information on your GPS and 2) update the logic it uses to choose routes (an example is tapping into now available real-time traffic info; sometimes the “best” route is much worse than a “slower” route because of an accident or construction).
The point here is that what we believe is key.
But I’m not going to immediately suggest that you try to examine all your beliefs or necessarily attempt to change them (at least not right away . . . ).
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Nope, what I’m suggesting is that we learn to love and accept people without having to believe what they believe.
When you’re able to do this (and not in every situation . . . I’m not suggesting you go to a Westboro Baptist demonstration and love them despite their abhorrent beliefs), you will be independent of the beliefs of others – you will be able to be with them, without having to believe what they believe.
I’m talking about family and friends and co-workers.
When you are to do this, you will begin to see the pull of the tribe and you’ll be able to notice the tendency to resolve the cognitive dissonance of your beliefs and theirs not through adopting theirs (or at least minimizing the difference . . . ) and choose to love them despite the difference in your thoughts/feeling/opinions/beliefs.
When you can be with people you love and care for, without having to believe what they do, you can make your life what you want it be.
You can consciously and strategically choose your beliefs. This is useful and important because what you believe you create in your life.
Your beliefs are your life.