Loosening Our Grip on Our Belief System


Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Psychology, Relationships, Thought | Posted on 04-05-2017

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[Jill’s Note: If you prefer to listen rather than read, please scroll to the bottom of this post for the audio version.]

Loosen Your Grip on Your Belief System!“My thoughts are real.

They feel solid and trustworthy and true.

My beliefs are correct.

If only everyone else could see things the way I do, they would agree.

It’s so obvious.

Why can’t they see it?

How can they believe what they believe when it’s so blatantly wrong?”

Welcome to the inside of my head.

Is it just me, or do your thoughts, ideas and beliefs feel like THE TRUTH?

When I like something–for instance the darkest, chocolatey-est fudge brownie ice cream ever made–I simply can’t fathom how other people might think it tastes like crap. (My healthy mug muffins or a ginormous plate of brussels sprouts also fit into this category.) It seriously doesn’t compute that others can’t see and taste the deliciousness that I do.

What comes to mind is…

What the hell is wrong with you?

How can you not taste what I taste? See what I see? Love what I love? Enjoy what I enjoy? Dislike what I dislike? Disagree with those who I disagree with?

Yet others don’t. And not only that, they think something disgusting like maple walnut ice cream [blech] is the most yummiest thing in the world.

It makes no sense.

While I can see that this comes down to preferences, why do my particular likes and dislikes feel so real and true?

It has to do with personal identity.

It’s our identification with our preferences that gives them a life of their own. Instead of being passing thoughts or opinions, our beliefs take on a rock solid appearance in our mind. Which looks exactly like the truth.

But is anything we think or believe actually true?

Or is it all simply opinion?

Many of our beliefs are culturally based.

For instance, if you were born in a different country, state or city, would you have the same belief system you do now? What if your family of origin had the opposite political beliefs?

Chances are you’d be a different person. Or at the very least you’d have different beliefs. Those things you staunchly support or are avidly against right now–maybe you wouldn’t be. You might even fight for the opposite side!

Or maybe not.

I’ve seen this for myself to a certain extent.

Growing up, my family had a strong political leaning in one direction. While I wasn’t very interested in politics, I believed and embodied the views I heard inside my home. I assumed that the political discussions being had were “the way things were.” And obviously those on the other side were simply idiots who didn’t understand society.

My husband, however, was brought up differently. Thankfully, neither of us were very politically motivated so it didn’t cause much friction between us. But I noticed over many years of being together that at some point, our views began to converge somewhere in the middle.

When my oldest daughter got involved in politics, she had formed her own political views. Because she was so passionate, articulate, logical and well-versed in her beliefs, I found myself agreeing with her. Her views were very different than those I was brought up with, and also different than those I had formed together with my husband.

Along the way, I was vaguely aware of my beliefs changing.

And there was some definite angst that came with this. When my daughter used certain politically charged words to describe her views, it would often make me cringe. How could she call herself something that I always associated with being an idiot? It helped that I knew how smart she was and how researched her opinions were. She always had a well-informed, logical response to every question I would ask her. Because of this it became nearly impossible for my beliefs NOT to change!

I realized that the beliefs I had previously imagined were truths, were actually just opinions.

This is no different from me going from old Jill to new Jill with my personal transformation that started four years ago.

The bottom line is that whether it’s preferences, opinions or entire belief systems–our identity is ever-changing. It is not the solid chunk of rock we may think it is. It’s made up entirely of thought which can change over time, or even in an instant.

So loosen up your identity grip, my friends. There’s a whole new and exciting world on the other side!

Who might you be with different beliefs?

Are you open even a teeny-tiny bit to finding out?


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Jill is the author of Victim of Thought: Seeing Through the Illusion of Anxiety

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For the past 20 years, Jill has consulted with companies big and small, and spoken at conferences all over the world. She is currently a transformational speaker and mentor to businesses, individuals, coaches, leaders, groups and organizations. She helps them uncover their natural well-being and happiness so that they can operate from a clearer state of mind and take their lives and businesses to a higher level.

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Leave Your Thoughts Below(2)

I think often/sometimes our “opinions” are directed by what we view as facts. So while there are somethings I can concede, too, others things I can not.

2 + 2 = 4. No opinion is necessary. That is a fact. If someone decides to try to take some weird existential trip on that, we aren’t going to have a very fruitful discussion.

For my whole life, I have believed murder to be wrong. Of course there are some nuances to how people define murder. When I was a young (9) and could understand it, it was primarily wrong because society said so and there were punishments put in place. Later in life, it was wrong because human life is valuable, based on what I am using to form that opinion. But not everyone feels the same is uses the same value system.

There are issues like math and gravity that really aren’t up for debate. There are others where you have to realize you probably aren’t using the same source for the opinions being formed. Neither of you is stupid. Can people bring their sources to the table and at least both can explain why they believe what they do and then hopefully move on from there and find middle ground. But realize, there still may not be middle ground, but at least hopefully the parties realize reasonable dialog and discourse can happen.

Thanks for your comment, Chris. To me, your point of “Neither of you is stupid” is the key here, and part of what I was pointing to in my post.

It’s so easy to feel and think that when others have different beliefs they must just be dumb!