Today, I want to do some self-reflection. Reflection is often more difficult than the action-packed exercises, but it’s essential, because beliefs shape your choices, thoughts, and feelings. This week, I want to step back and think deeply about beliefs. Identifying which beliefs you holdabout events, desires, relationships, etc. is a vital part of creating a strong foundation for personal growth. Before you can change long-held beliefs and thus change your thinking, identifying why we hold these in the first place is key. That’s what we’re discussing today; the sources of our belief systems and how that can shape our lives. Let’s dive in.
As I mentioned, your beliefs shape much of how you view and experience your life. There are three key aspects to think about when identifying these belief systems. You’ll want to take note of which beliefs you hold, why you hold them, and how they may have developed. Identifying the sources of these beliefs will make changing or accepting these thoughts that much easier. Sometime soon, sit down with your journal (or complete the worksheet!) and think about these questions: What are my core beliefs? What do they say about me as a person and how do they affect me? Why do I hold these beliefs and how have they changed throughout my life? Can I identify a certain person, event, situation, etc. that may have caused this belief?
These questions are usually difficult to answer, so don’t be concerned if it takes you hours or days to write out cohesive thoughts on the subject. Here is some information that may help: Our emotional connection to people, circumstances, and events affects what we believe. We develop our belief systems in three often interchangeable but distinct ways:
• By learning from and observing our families.
Family members are often some of our biggest influences when it comes to religion, politics, values, and other strong core beliefs. This can be positive or negative depending on your family members. It’s common to have certain family members who helped you grow and become the person you are today. It’s also not uncommon to have family members who have instilled harmful or disempowering beliefs about yourself. Either way, it’s good to identify these powerful influences.
This is often related to our familial experiences, but can include your social, educational, and other experiences. The University of California conducted a study which found that our personalities (which includes beliefs) as a child often stick with us as adults. They also found that it’s incredibly difficult to change these traits once they’ve developed by age 3-7. Our personalities, beliefs, and values are all but fully developed by these ages. So it is vital to look at this developmental time when identifying why you have certain convictions.
• By participating in our culture and community.
Much like your experiences as a child, social, educational, and other experiences affect us as adults. A huge part of this is our culture and community, which includes our personal relationships, religious values, and more. A change in one of these could drastically change your beliefs. Think what would happen if you were to change religions or move to completely different community.
This information and the worksheet should assist you as you reflect on why you hold your beliefs and how they have affected your life. Thinking about these issues will help you understand yourself in a deeper and more meaningful way. It can also assist your personal development journey. Dig deep, and you might just discover gold.