I want to explore the power of belief because it really does drive so much of our daily behaviors.
In so many areas, really.
Also, through a lot of the conversations I’ve been having lately, I’ve noticed this binary mindset. I consulted the all-knowing Google to fetch a definition so we can hold that in our minds as I proceed with this. What is considered binary is “relating to, composed of, or involving two things.”
Any IT geeks out there know that binary code only consists of ones and zeros. Nothing more. Two things: ones and zeros.
I’ve been contemplating beliefs and I’ve been exposed to a lot of binary thinking, so I decided to combine the two on this post because I think it’s an important awareness to have as we navigate this beautiful, messy life with all of the lovely fellow humans we encounter along the way.
I don’t even mean that to be sarcastic in any way.
Remember, all humans are worthy. No matter what. Some may challenge you more than others. That’s okay. Keep in mind the reason why they’re in your life at all is to teach you something. When you approach your interactions with this mindset, it truly helps.
Let’s start with what a belief is.
A belief is a thought that you think over and over. They have been formed by your upbringing. What your parents taught you, your schoolteachers, your peers. As a child, these groups were primarily responsible for shaping your thoughts. This is what you should believe. You may have also been exposed to a certain religion or spiritual practice too.
That’s your first layer of influence. You take this with you into adulthood and start to incorporate what you’ve observed and absorbed from society, media exposure, the books you’ve read…all of the things.
Maybe you even challenge some of the things that you’ve learned in childhood. Maybe you accept new ideas or modify some of your existing ideas.
Through all of this, you form your opinions of what is right and wrong.
And while you’re doing this, so is every other human.
Everyone is choosing their own belief systems.
Some of us are continually challenging our beliefs and are willing to be exposed to new ideas and even consider whether or not we want to apply them.
Others have solidified their beliefs to be as solid as concrete and will never waver. No matter what.
Beliefs are so very powerful. As I mentioned, they underpin so many of our daily actions.
If you believe you are not worthy, not enough because someone in your life has implied this in some way and you allow your thoughts to continuously reinforce that idea, you’re going to feel negatively toward yourself. You’re going to berate yourself with your internal dialogue and you brain will automatically search for evidence to prove your thoughts.
And you stay stuck in that place because you’ve never learned to challenge those beliefs. They’ve simply become a part of who you are.
I think so many of our beliefs have become subconscious, we just file them away to free up space for new things that are in line with what we already know. Complementary thoughts, if you will.
Many of us get stuck in that concrete. This is what I have seen and heard. “This is right. That is wrong. Full stop. I cannot be bothered with another point of view.”
That’s the binary mindset. Right or wrong. There’s no other choice. This or that. Red or blue. Us or them. One or zero.
And I think our brains default to that because it’s easier.
It’s just easier to pick a side and stay on that side, stay in your lane, and dig in.
But if I come across something in my daily life that is counter to my established belief system, I’m going to be curious about it.
Hmmmm. What does this mean? Where is this person coming from? Or this group of people?
I may not always understand it, but I don’t feel that I have to – not fully.
Yet I think there is something to be said for having awareness of an alternate viewpoint that might cause me question or even reconsider thoughts that I’ve had and beliefs that I’ve held.
Far be it from me to question the validity of another person’s view of the world. Just because I haven’t had the same experiences doesn’t make them wrong.
It also doesn’t make me right.
Because one of the powers of our beliefs is that they are seemingly unshakable. Unbreakable. Concrete.
Yet I like to look at another power of our beliefs as being flexible. Able to be questioned. Open to be explored.
I’m talking about our personally held beliefs, to be very clear.
I am not talking about trying to re-shape someone else’s beliefs! That’s where we get into trouble.
That’s where we can’t have civil conversations around topics such as politics or religion. Because we’re coming at it from a place of being right and if the other person could just see that and agree with it, then there would be more right in the world and less wrong.
Where the power of flexibility is best applied with your belief system are those long held beliefs about yourself. About who you are as a person. About whether you’re good enough or smart enough or talented enough to make things happen.
When you go the work of changing your thoughts about yourself, you can get to the work of exposing the flexibility of those long-held beliefs about YOU that just aren’t true.
That’s where the power truly is.
We don’t have to take it all. We also don’t have to reject it all. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak.
It’s not all or nothing. It’s not this is right, that is wrong. We need to pull ourselves back from this binary mindset if only to allow space in our brains for further growth.
I have taken pieces and parts along my path in this life of many blanket belief systems and stitched together my own quilt from it. It is quite honestly rare that I will take the whole blanket of any system out there and add it to my mental stack.
I like to really think about it. Question it. Does this make sense to me and for me at this time in my life? What parts of it work and what parts don’t?
That’s the beauty and the power of belief.
Knowing that it can hold solid over a lifetime.
Knowing that it can also be flexible and repaired.
Knowing that it can also be completely demolished and rebuilt.
Knowing that any or all of those things can be true at any time.
Knowing that it is entirely your choice.
Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth. – Rumi
I want you to recognize where your beliefs are unshakable and wonder why. I want you to explore. I want you to grow, and I want you to see ALL of the colors along the way. Not just the black and white of it. There’s so much yet to be seen in the space between.
You just have to be open to it.
This post is a partial transcript from my podcast, What Lights You Up – Episode 20. I invite you to enjoy the full episode and subscribe on Spotify or Apple!