What do you believe in?
Feel the truth
In order for us to truly, wholeheartedly believe, it needs to happen on an emotional level as well as on a rational one. Emotions are involved in long term planning as well; which school to apply for, who to hang out with, what clubs to join, what profession we are interested in, etc. So it should come as no surprise that we also put our faith in beliefs which are supported by both reigning faculties of the mind. Therefore, emotions and instincts help form our beliefs.
We might praise knowledge and rationality in particular, but we humans are not perfectly rational beings no matter how much we would want that.
Even if we can stay quite rational in our conscious minds while making decisions, the unconscious has a great influence over us in the long run. Repressed instincts, feelings and thoughts will affect us in silent ways if we don’t deal with them consciously.
Many people don’t really believe in the influence of the unconscious, just like they don’t believe in the interpretation of dreams. However, the latter is still a foundation in psychoanalysis and has been the salvation for many suffering from mental disease.*
*On this specific subject, I would like to refer to and honor among others especially Carl Gustav Jung, Emma Jung and Toni Wolff for their unique contributions to the understanding of the human psyche.
More frankly put, if you think that your conscious mind is the only entity making decisions for you, you are either ignorant or living in denial. Science has strong evidence to support the notion that the vast majority of our thought processes occur subconsciously.
Without real awareness you only think that you are in fully in charge.
The first and most important step to greater awareness is to accept that you have subconscious thoughts and that you are born with primal instincts and that these have influence over your life. Neglect this kind of insights at your own peril and loss of opportunity. People in power very often dominate through greater awareness of unconscious human behavior.
If you want to, the second step is to actively inform yourself. Books, experts, videos, based on serious research and experience will let you do that.
There is, however, many takes on the subconscious as well as it’s relationship with core beliefs. It’s tricky to get knowledge about something we are fundamentally unaware of! The important part is not to find out the ultimate truth about everything, but to gain some kind of awareness at all, so that you don’t get into mental pitfalls.
I have dug up a Ted talk to get you started. Guaranteed to make you feel intelligent watching it!
Ideally, beliefs show us meaning which helps us to stay in control. But sometimes beliefs control us instead. If that happens, we should not be too afraid of letting go, even if we start feeling lost. It is a phase we need to go through in order to find better orientation.
In order for us to become wise, we must admit our irrational ways and work with them. We must learn to accept our feelings before we can master them. When our minds excel we gain the ability to rise above our instincts whenever facing complex problems and to see the errors in our biased reasoning.
We must let go of prejudices. There is no more corrosive poison to the mind than prejudices.
Eventually, we will feel the truth.
Internal conflict of beliefs
Sometimes when facing a decision, a conflict between an idea and a strong feeling may arise and suggest different things. You don’t know what to think. This causes a state of confusion.
This confusion does hardly mean however, that either impression is without a purpose. Strong responses to your body and mind almost always convey important information. When this happens, your intellect and your emotions (or instincts) are simply operating on different levels.
I suppose you just have to find out which level you think is the best to operate on right then and there, given the context. I cannot give many advice on this highly nuanced topic. All choices are not easy, but making honest mistakes must be forgivable.
Form your beliefs
Become more aware of your instincts and feelings. Continuously seek more knowledge while using common sense. Do this and you can form your own beliefs, instead of letting them form you.
Origin of belief
We always think that something is true for a reason. However, we don’t always know what that reason is ourselves.
Two levels of belief exist. There are beliefs we are unconscious about and beliefs that we are conscious about. It is hard to find clear borders between these beliefs.
The first level of belief is plain and simple the beliefs we don’t pay any attention and thus are oblivious to. This category contains all the beliefs that have been integrated in our minds through understanding. (This is really good by the way, keep learning.) The first category also includes all the basic stuff that we have been imprinted with through experience, or by being told so over and over.
For example; we take gravity for granted. Not taking it for granted hasn’t even occurred to us since apples always fall down! Similarly, if your local community every day insists that vegetarians live healthier than meat-eaters, chances are that you will eventually believe them, if you receive no other input.
A habit of believing repeated statements is especially effective if a teacher or parent suggests the idea. Humans have developed an inclination to believe authorities. Back in the days the environment was less forgiving. Bad decisions were more likely to kill you. You´d better believe your mommy when she told you not to eat those sweet red berries.
The flip side is that we are easier to manipulate when we unconsciously acknowledge authority without a second thought. Every person who wants to make his own fortune does well to remember this.
Summing up: Unconscious beliefs are based on integrated knowledge, experience and “told truths”.
The other category of beliefs is made up by all those who we hold on to consciously. This type of beliefs is different because they can be questioned and opposed in a whole other way, just because we actively think about them.
From time to time, you should ransack what beliefs you unconsciously might hold onto and then consciously evaluate them.
Questioning your own beliefs can sometimes be scary, but a strong mind does it anyway, because it is necessary in order to to become aware and thus free. If you deny yourself the opportunity for doubt, your mind is never operating at its full potential.
More on conscious beliefs
From a down-to-earth viewpoint, we hold on to our conscious beliefs because it serves a practical purpose. It might be because we crave an answer to a question. It might be because we trust someone and listening to that person made our lives easier the last time.
All these things and more indicate how the beliefs first formed, but especially why we continuously stick to them. We always have a reason for our beliefs, but choices become involved somewhere along they way too. That is why we do background checks and spend more time thinking on stuff that interest us.
A side note: It is when a belief transforms into opinion, that sheer laziness usually becomes the dominating motivator for sticking to it.
Occasionally, we encounter something truly extraordinary, something which we choose to believe in – or not believe in –for specific reasons. We take these beliefs seriously because they are important to us.
Don´t lie to yourself! We take these beliefs seriously, because they are important to us.
You have deeply rooted convictions. I have deeply rooted convictions. The president has deeply rooted convictions. They can be conscious or unconscious.
Your core beliefs are the basis for other beliefs you hold. In practice they are your ultimate guidelines, but also your ultimate limits, so take them seriously!
Make sure that your conscious mind is aware of your beliefs. See to it that you also understand what emotions are connected to them as well, such as relief, fear, sorrow and hope. Make sure that you understand how these emotions came to affect you. Also recognize what instincts enforce your beliefs in general, such as the instinct to believe authority.
Finally, consider in depth what you really believe and why. Consider what thoughts and ideas consume your attention. The key to happiness is freedom and freedom requires self-awareness.
Part 3 is found here