Why do we believe what we do?

I read an interesting series of articles from a newsletter I fail to read all too often. This is because I often find the quantity of emails waiting for me overwhelming; many of them fall by the wayside.

Luckily, the numbers were reduced today, letting me get to an article on pseudoscience and why people believe. Why some people believe the things they do has always been a mystery to me, but the article got me thinking: why do I believe the things I believe? The answer turns out to be, because it suits me to. My beliefs comfort me, whether or not they are accurate. Unfortunately, my beliefs don’t always serve me well.

We all like to think we think the best thoughts. We all think our points of view are the best and most correct. Unfortunately, we can’t all be right. It’s a frustration, but it’s true.

We have beliefs about a variety of things. We have beliefs about alternative medicine and evolution; about capitalism and climate change; and about ourselves. We’re all convinced of the correctness of our positions.

We have closer to home beliefs as well, and if I’m a typical example, we don’t spend as much time analyzing those beliefs as we should. I never really took the time to figure out why I think about myself the way I do; what drives the thoughts that bounce around my brain.

For instance, I have a variety of thoughts about my physical person. The thoughts help drive my eating disorder. I believe that I’m overweight. I believe that I suffer in comparison to pretty much everyone else on an appearance level. I believe I have bad hair, and an unattractive face, and poor taste in clothes. Pretty much all my thoughts about myself are negative.

I argue with them cognitively. I contradict the things I say to myself. But that’s not the same thing as drilling down to the core belief(s) fueling the opinions and challenging them. To not do so is like bailing out a sinking boat without bothering to fix the leak. Ultimately, you’ll end up preserving the status quo.

It’s hard to accept the idea that many of my basic beliefs are flawed. Rejecting individual thoughts is easier; when I think about identifying and addressing the beliefs I have, my chest starts to hurt. It’s anxiety-provoking, poking at your basic makeup. I don’t like to admit that there’s a chance that I’m human and my thoughts suffer from bias.

Still, one of my beliefs about myself is that I’m open-minded and willing to accept new ideas. So, I guess this means a more in-depth self-analysis, to find out what I really believe about myself as a person.

I discovered, recently, that I can’t really explain myself. I’m not entirely sure who I am. I don’t have a complete picture. I realized that when I came across an article that suggested identifying your strengths and weaknesses. I was stumped. And if I can’t explain myself, then I can’t really claim to know myself. If you can’t define something, then you really don’t understand it.

I’m not entirely sure where to start, but I suspect continuing to work on that strength and weakness list is a good idea. It will help me find out where I should be digging. It will help me figure out that beliefs that drive the thoughts that hold me down and back. It has suited me, in some ways to hold onto them. What we know is comfortable and easy.

Analysis and change can only happen when we decide we want more for ourselves.

5 thoughts on “Why do we believe what we do?

  1. I vasolate between really wanting to dig deep within and wondering if I am overthinking about myself. I feel sometimes getting very microscopic leaves me tunnel visioned and overwhelmed to paralysis. I no longer feel the why is so tantamount but the what to change and how….. the learning and growth never stop…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I get that. Sometimes I wonder if getting to the why really matters. But for me, making changes without it has been a struggle. I hope that if I start to “get” myself, I can figure out how better to do that.


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