It’s inevitable that in your development as a human being, you will come to believe things you don’t currently believe.
And you will stop believing things that you currently do believe.
You will change your beliefs about yourself, your life, the world, other people, your relationships, your job and work, the universe — practically every aspect of your existence.
This is part of what it means to learn and grow.
This process will go better — faster, less painful, more enjoyable — if you allow it. Accept and embrace it. Be conscious in it.
You will inevitably re-categorize or revise many of your beliefs.
Some things you currently consider horseshit, you will come to see as true.
Some things you now consider true, you will come to see as horseshit.
That’s okay. It doesn’t reflect on your intelligence or judgment. It’s a simple fact of life. It’s how it works.
You will go through a process of sorting out what’s true from what’s b.s.: which is which. For all intents and purposes, this process is never ending.
… even if you currently firmly believe (or reject) them.
Not all of your beliefs will change. But a lot of them will.
We hold our beliefs in categories: What I believe. What I reject. What I think might be true (but don’t actually believe). What doesn’t sound right to me. What I have no opinion on. What I know nothing about. And so on.
Beliefs can and will switch categories. Sometimes they’ll switch more than once.
Some beliefs might teeter back and forth for quite some time. You might validate a belief, then have reason to question it, eliminate it, re-question it, and validate it again.
It makes perfect sense that this might happen as you gain new knowledge, improve your thinking skills, and change or validate other beliefs that are connected to the first one.
The beliefs that will eventually change will probably include some ideas you currently firmly believe and some ideas you currently firmly reject.
The process is both intellectual and emotional.
This process can feel traumatic at times. It can also be unbelievably exciting — especially when you realize that a belief that has been limiting your life or causing grief just isn’t even true.
It’s always progress. It’s progress even if you later revise a given belief yet again. It’s all steps toward greater understanding.
The truth will hold its own under questioning.
Beliefs that are consistent with logic and truth will stand up through the process of questioning. And the process will help you understand these beliefs better.
When your beliefs are consistent with truth, understanding them better will help you see how they support your life and happiness. You’ll become morecommitted to them, not less.
When your beliefs are not consistent with truth, understanding them better will help you see why, and will shed light on the damage they’re leading to. You’ll become more motivated to change them and change your actions that have been based on them.
Holding onto beliefs for dear life without allowing them to be questioned, revised, and potentially rejected only locks you into your current state of understanding. It makes growth impossible. People who stagnate in their life? This is a big reason why.
Mistakes will occur in this process.
But you will correct them, provided you keep continuing the process.
Allowing growth in understanding to occur is more important than being right or (temporarily) wrong on any particular issue.
When you believe something, go all in.
Don’t let what I’m saying shake your ability to hold to what you do believe. Just realize that a lot of buildings are going to topple, and others will be built in their place. In the meantime, go ahead and live in them.
If you believe something, believe it. Live by it. You’ve chosen it — make the most of it.
This can also be an excellent way to learn more about your beliefs. The results from acting on them will give you tons of information.
But notice what a belief is leading you to — before you act on it.
If a belief is guiding you to choices and actions that cause harm — to yourself, to others, to your relationships, to the environment, to society — you’ve got an excellent clue about the nature of the belief. (Regardless of how the belief or the actions based on it make you feel. If you have a belief “If something feels good in the moment, I should do it,” that’s one you might want to examine right quick.)
If a belief is guiding you to make beneficial choices, that’s a clue, too.
Beliefs have consequences. And sometimes those consequences take quite a while to show up fully. That’s why it’s crucial to keep observing the results, keep questioning beliefs, keep revising or re-categorizing them.
Beliefs matter. Refining them is one major way we become better people.
Self-reflection, considering before you act, and examining choices and beliefs are all good things.
This is a significant way you grow.
The deeper the belief, the more impact there will be when you examine and upgrade it. Revising your beliefs about what’s possible to you, about your relationships, and about your work can change your life. Adopting new beliefs about the nature of the universe, love, and God can change your life radically.
Learn to tolerate lack of absolute certainty in your own thought structures. You don’t have to know everything with certainty right now. That isn’t even possible. What matters is what you believe.
The process of questioning, revising, and re-categorizing beliefs can be unsettling, disorienting, even frightening at times. But it’s also exciting, empowering, and freeing. It’s your development as a human being.
Patricia Sanders lived in Globe from 2004 to 2008 and at Reevis Mountain School, in the Tonto National Forest, from 2008 to 2014. She has been a writer and editor for GMT since 2015. She is currently traveling long-term and researching a book on dance. You can follow her writing on the website medium.com, under the pen name SK Camille.