Understanding Beliefs

Have you ever wondered why some folks just cannot seem to see or refuse to acknowledge ideas or facts that seem obvious to you?   Do you get frustrated when you observe people blindly trusting in something that you see as logically or morally flawed?  Do you feel you have a strong sense of logic and critical thought and have learned to look for credible evidence that your thoughts and viewpoints are tied to reality, and have trouble understanding why others “just don’t get it”.  That’s because what your encountering is a matter of belief, not logic, and beliefs are a different animal altogether.

Beliefs operate at a different (higher / more subconscious) level of mind than the general stream of consciousness thought and behaviour.  Along with our “Identity” (who/what we believe ourselves to be) they help form our internal mind environment, our presuppositions that we think within, and result in the filters through which we perceive the world INCLUDING the input of our senses (for example how we interpret things we hear). 

Beliefs do not require logic.  They are obtained culturally (we are born and raised surrounded by them and so we assume they are reality) or through experiences that have emotional impact on us.  For example, something traumatic may cause us to form a belief about how the world works and how we must operate within it. Or, we may experience a emotional “peak experience” (using A Maslow’s term) in relation to a certain event or experience which gives it unique validity within our mind structure. 

A person does not need to understand their beliefs, they “just know” that is how things work, and it “feels right”.  We then spend our lives structuring our thoughts and actions based on our beliefs, and will reject (or not be able to even see or comprehend) information contrary to them.  This is in part because we have invested so much into building our lives based on them, and they help form our identity, our concept of who we are.

Beliefs are not easily countered with logic and rationale; they were not formed of such and do not require such to be maintained. They can of course change, but it is not easy.  Something must break through all our defences to force us to consider information in a new way, or from a different perspective.  In my experience, for beliefs to change often takes a personal crisis, something happening in the person’s life that shocks them enough that it results in an opening of the mind to other possibilities and other information.  This then begins the emotionally painful process of reviewing and rebuilding their thought environment from a new belief foundation.  (Note that having been shaken to the core and rebuilt, that foundation of self may never be quite as strong again, as once you have had the foundation of your identity shattered it is harder to trust that a new foundation is not likewise vulnerable).

Beliefs can also be changed through effective therapeutic techniques, self work, etc., but for this to happen a person needs see that there is an issue with their current thoughts or behavior and want a change enough to be willing to do the work of therapy and to face difficult realizations about themselves.  Often this work is prompted by the desire to be rid of self limits that have held them back, or to deal with behaviours that have been unhealthy for themselves or harmed those they love.

For some in the 2×2 system, the revelation that a respected overseer they knew had an immoral second life was the shock that opened their mind to other information and possibilities about the workers and the 2×2 system. Others, as a result of this same incident, have suddenly been able to really hear stories of victims they personally know, see these people as valid hurting humans for the first time, and understand that there have been terrible impacts on these peoples lives, and that has provided the shock to open their mind to new information and possibilities.  A mind once opened to one realization often then experiences a whole cascade of other realizations as a result of a new openness to possibilities and ideas that their mind would have refused to consider, and even refused to see previously.  Out of this experience the process of creating new beliefs about the world, their community, others, and themselves can then form.

But for most folks in the system, the recent revelations are not very personal or close, and their information exposure has been limited or framed in very non-threatening ways for them (“all is well, God is in control, the way is perfect but individuals fail, etc.).  Those people have not had a personal crisis, nor do they see any problem in their life that needs addressing, and so their beliefs remain intact.  The natural mechanisms of their minds continue to actively protect the beliefs that their lives are based on, blinding them to contrary information.  Many will not want to know the information, as knowing threatens their life foundation.

To consider the possibility that there are real and serious issues means they would have to consider that the foundation of their lives, what they have built their whole concept of who they are and how they fit into the world on, is one that needs reconsideration. That reconsideration is hard work, emotionally difficult, sometimes traumatic (as we have so clearly read in individual’s stories), so we humans naturally avoid it if we possibly can find a way to carry on without facing it. This does not make them bad people, just normal people. 

If we allow ourselves to explore a bit, we will find that people have all sorts of beliefs in this world as a result of many cultures, and religions, including some that would seem exceedingly strange to us as we have no cultural frame of reference for them.  The issue is when one person’s beliefs cause harm or enables harm to another person, but unfortunately that is not uncommon in the broader world either. 

I wrote this only to just to explain a little of what I have read and experienced about how beliefs work, to help those who feel they might be “beating their heads against a wall” when trying to discuss certain issues and even facts with another person.  One more thing, a caution.  I have been in situations and sessions where people have been forced to confront their beliefs, and it can be quite a traumatic and emotional thing, and if not done in a safe environment with and with professional care it can cause some serious lasting trauma and even the installation of new limiting beliefs as a result.  Tread with care.

Jim Arnold
August 18,2023