You and Your Belief System

You and your belief system are inseparable. No matter where you go or what you do it is always with you, influencing everything from how you interpret the world around you to how you act.

Your belief system is filled with expectations about how people will treat you and respond to you. It weighs in on what you should or shouldn’t receive. It defines your religious and spiritual beliefs (or non-beliefs), and your political, humanistic, ideological and philosophical beliefs.

Your beliefs steer you toward the majority of the outcomes you experience. Not all that happy with some of those outcomes? Then take a look at your belief system—it might be time for an update.

Many elements of your belief system were forged in childhood, which means your parents were major contributors to what you believe about yourself, the world, money, creativity, deservedness, possibility, self-esteem, feelings of superiority and entitlement, body image, and your views about religion or spirituality.

You may have rethought and replaced some of these original teachings, but you may not have changed your emotional relationship to them, which means they can still be influencing you, especially when you are feeling vulnerable or stressed.

Here are just five ways this might look:

1. SUPERIORITY. Part of nearly every belief system contains a superiority appraisal—a “who is better than whom” and a “this is better than that” analysis, all done judgmentally. Prejudice and bias come from this part of your belief system. This is a negative view of the world based on what you believe is not just better, but superior. If you were taught as a child that you were superior to others, then that is part of your belief system. Perfectly nice, kind, well-meaning people can maintain this attitude of superiority. Believe it or not, if you judge others, you qualify.

2. MONEY. How you handle money—and the basic state of your finances—is another area in which your original belief system can be impacting you. You may not think to change your behavior or thinking surrounding money because it can feel that everything is simply as it is, even if you don’t like it. You may believe that nothing can truly change even though you would like nothing more than for it to change. Your limited beliefs about money keep you trapped in those limited beliefs. The result is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

3. INTELLIGENCE. Plenty of bright people don’t think they’re intelligent because while growing up they were told, one way or another, that they were not particularly smart. That misinformation is part of their belief system as adults and forces them to assume they can’t do what “smart” people can do. Instead of trying something they consider to be “out of the box”, they play it safe and don’t attempt anything that would require them to really use their minds. If this pertains to you, then you may believe you don’t have the brainpower to do anything that isn’t safe and predictable. You eschew the idea of firing up extra neurons since you don’t believe you have any to spare. This is a by product of a fixed mindset. 

4. RELATIONSHIPS. What you learned from watching your parents' relationship all those years is imbedded in your beliefs about how relationships work ranging from how you act in them to what you can expect from them. You learned about love, communication, sharing, generosity, compassion, emotional support, tenderness, kindness and playfulness while watching your parents interact. Depending on what your parents' relationship was like, that might be a sobering consideration.

5. SELF-ESTEEM. How’s your self-esteem these days? If it’s always been in good shape you can thank your parents, or perhaps a highly influential mentor. You could especially feel grateful to your dad, since in many cases, he helped form the foundation of your self-esteem. Any of us can build self-esteem if our fathers didn’t do a particularly exemplary job of helping us do it. If low self-esteem does become part of our personal belief system we have another example of how so much of out beleif system originates when we’re kids.

The point here is one of consideration. We generally accept that our personal beliefs have been self-created. This is true for numbers of our beliefs, but there are others that were given to us when we were young. We’re so accustomed to them that we don’t think of them as beliefs, and yet they are.

Take a look at everything you accept to be true about yourself and question all of it. Give yourself several days to do this so you won't feel overwhelmed. You might find that you'll want to change some of those long standing beliefs.