By definition, belief refers to a psychological state in which a person holds to a premise, or an idea, that he or she discerns to be true. Belief is similar to knowledge, but differentiated by a level of stronger confidence and perhaps even of faith. One of Plato's early works defined knowledge as a person's "justified true belief", and this understanding has continued through the ages. You could say that belief is, simply put, knowledge that has been proven true according to reason, plausibility and evidence. Of course, one could argue that belief and knowledge are relative to the perception of one individual. This a moot point though, because whatever a person wants to believe will end up becoming their reality. Regardless if it is true or not.
Psychology, as well as other practices relating to human mentality, has long held that belief is the most basic form of conscious thought. The issue of whether belief is actually a mental state remains the subject of debate. Nevertheless, in psychology, before a subject can learn any new information, the belief system must first be addressed. This allows the "proposition", or the object of the belief, to be learned.
In the book Saving Belief by Lynne Rudder Baker, the writer speculates that there are four elemental ways of looking at belief:
1.Belief is coherent and based on common sense.
2.Common sense belief is not always correct, but can help one make informed predictions about the future.
3.Common sense-based understanding of belief is inaccurate and will eventually be replaced by a new system of logic and understanding.
4.Common sense belief may be wrong, but treating every subject and object as if it has its own beliefs, can prove successful.
Is Belief Voluntary?
The next consideration is whether or not belief is voluntary or involuntary. Some great minds have theorized that the formation of belief is mostly an involuntary process. True, anyone can investigate information in order to form beliefs. However, that person may well reach automatic conclusions based on their background. This theory is supported by the fact that many people only accept information that supports their already existing belief system. They may even accept narrow and specific "truths", rather than fathom more broadly challenging studies that result from analyzing a variety of cultures and perspectives.
Imagination can play an important part in shaping a person's belief system, whether for creating further core and dispositional beliefs, modifying information or perpetuating the belief further. Emotion can play an important part in belief. This is observed in cases of individuals, who might deny contradictions when they are unable to refute said arguments out of an adherence to a belief they have become emotionally vested in. Sometimes, when there is a lack of evidence suggesting any solid fact, belief can become fused with speculation or even faith. This happens when assumptive data cannot be reconciled to the external world.
I was working with a client one day and he was explaining how he needed more referrals to build his business. We talked about possible referral sources and how many he would need in order to hit some of his goals. We did some simple math and came up with an average number of referrals he would like per referral source to meet his goals. The number was an average of 3-5 referrals per person. Then he said that wouldn't be possible - the number was too big.
I asked him why he thought that wouldn't be possible. He said that he typically get two referrals per person asked. I asked him how many referrals he expects to get. He was slow to answer this question, as you might expect. He slowly said, two. So he expects to receive two referrals per person asked and he actually receives two referrals. Interesting!
I asked him if he thought he would receive more referrals if he expected to receive more. He said, yes. So he came up with a new number of what he was going to now expect and began to manifest that reality into his life.
We all have some limiting beliefs that we don't even realize. If you think about it, what beliefs do you have that are holding you back from unleashing your true potential? The bottom line is that life delivers what we expect. Allow limiting beliefs to limit your potential, and you will get exactly what you believe you deserve.
Do you ever think any slightly negative thoughts about something and then they come true? How can you change your beliefs to be positive and actually believe what you really want to have happen in your life - so then you can manifest that reality?
This is an important concept to understand when contemplating issues of faith and hope. It is scientifically impossible to believe that billions of individual personalities would ever have identical beliefs. While it is perceivable that some religious faiths or political groups have mandatory core beliefs that all new members must ascribe to, this mainly involves the study of group affiliation and communal motivations. Because every person comes from a different background and has different experiences as well as unique genetic makeup, one cannot reason that any belief system is factually based unless indisputable external evidence exists that proves this knowledge true. Even in this scenario, however, it is difficult to convince people that what they perceive as an external fact should also serve as a strong foundation for a system of belief largely based on additional speculation.
What does this mean to the everyday man or woman looking for fulfillment in life? It is important to know that the majority of people often believe in what they wish to be true, rather than what external facts suggest. They may wish for a better world, even while seeing a world that is becoming increasingly difficult to live in, and subscribe to a belief that something better is waiting for them. Sometimes belief can be a very powerful thing, as people will cling to their core beliefs, no matter how greatly external factors stand in direct opposition.
Once you learn more about belief, you can understand why yourself and others are prone to certain patterns of behavior and learn how to minimize resistance and maximize productivity. This knowledge can be of great benefit in your professional and personal life. Motivation and success all starts with a basic foundation: belief. If you are looking for more information on improving the quality of your life and that of others, then some method of Accountability Coaching can help you. We all need a little accountability to help us stay focused and achieve our goals. A little accountability goes a long way.
Have a question for Anne or want to leave a comment? Click here.