The Power of Beliefs

A belief is a state of mind that we hold because it helps us to make sense of the world. From the day we are born, we have been trying to navigate this crazy world. Beliefs provide guidelines for us to follow and adhere to. They allow us to organize the information we receive from the world. Beliefs are essential to being human, and every one of us has them. We hold beliefs about almost everything we encounter.


If we were not taught any prior beliefs about our world, we would have a very minimal basis for connecting with others and our world. Not only would we be more isolated with less commonality between us, but we would also have to make up our own ideas about our experiences.


Photo by Ricky Turner


Our caregivers have passed down many beliefs to us. By sharing knowledge that they have acquired, those who raise children are able to ensure that young minds have the tools necessary to survive and thrive in the world. Beliefs are extremely powerful influencers over our thoughts and actions.


Beliefs actually cause things to happen for us in our lives. They guide our behavior. We first believe that if we act in one way, we may achieve a desired outcome. Without this primary process of forming a belief, we would have no basis for behaving the way we do. We have beliefs about what we are capable or incapable of doing.


Photo by Clark Tibbs


We have beliefs that we may or may not think about. These implicit beliefs may still be extremely influential without us being aware of them. They automatically guide what we do and how we think. Without taking the time to reflect on our beliefs and consider how they were formed, we may end up believing in nonsensical ideas.


One false belief that, upon looking back, seems nonsensical is something many are familiar with: the belief in Santa Claus (I hope I’m not disrupting anyone’s worldview by debunking this belief). But Santa Claus just isn’t real. The idea of a magical man who lives in the North Pole flying around the world on a magical sleigh carried through the sky by flying reindeers is not possible in consideration of what we know to be true about our world. Yet, as a child, I’m sure many of us did not question the validity of this belief, at least not right away.

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There can come a point when one actively questions whether their beliefs are accurate. This assessment is a difficult process that can make one feel uncomfortable. Once we recognize that a belief may not be true, we are forced to reevaluate all the beliefs that have relied on the belief that’s been proven wrong.


We believe in true things about the world that we may refer to as facts, and sometimes we believe in things that are not true and don’t have any basis in reality. We have foundational beliefs that other beliefs rest upon, and they are often connected. If we change a belief, others that we’ve connected to it must be altered too. We have a strong impulse to resolve any inconsistencies between our beliefs as we typically don’t hold ones that are contradicting.


Because our beliefs serve the purpose of aligning us, they hold a great power over our lives. But how are beliefs so powerful and why do they have this power over us?


We can break down beliefs and assess their accuracy, but sometimes beliefs are more complicated than just being accurate or inaccurate. There are beliefs we form about our value or competency in relation to the world. These beliefs also perpetuate our behavior in certain directions. I can believe positive things about myself which encourage me to try new things and make the most out of any situation I am in. On the flip side, I can believe that I have more negative characteristics that will limit my ability to expand or enjoy my experiences. One can hold a variety of beliefs, including beliefs about the world, oneself, others, the future and the past. All of these determine how I will act next.


Photo by Xan Griffin


Since our beliefs are extremely powerful, it is certainly worthwhile to evaluate our beliefs, correct any inconsistencies, and to form more realistic beliefs about ourselves and our world. Knowing the power of our beliefs can encourage us to be more mindful about which beliefs we hold, which we form and which we let go.


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