Where Do Beliefs Come From?
“For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.” — Stuart Chase
Where do your beliefs come from? Maybe some come from advertisers. Maybe some come from authority figures. Maybe some are from your parents. Maybe some are from your own personal experience.
But what’s the pattern behind the pattern for how you believe what you believe?
I think if you know where beliefs come from and you understand the base, then you can better understand your own biases, test your assumptions, and more effectively choose when to change your beliefs. That’s quite the skill for today’s rapidly changing world.
Six Sources of Beliefs and Values
One of my mentors has a very simple frame for looking at where beliefs come from:
1. Authority – expertise, law, position, policies, etc.
2. Emotion – feelings, convictions, causes, purposes, etc.
3. Intuition – insight, impression, subconscious, etc.
4. Logic – observations, facts, assumptions, formulas, etc.
5. Science – facts, data, biology, sociology, etc.
6. Sensory – personal experience, direct knowledge from the senses, etc.
Another way to look at these sources of beliefs and assumptions is:
- Internal – Emotion, Intuition, Sensory
- External — Authority, Logic, Science
I find myself challenging my beliefs and assumptions on a regular basis, to make sure I’m able to leverage new information and insights as they come along. That of course means knowing what my beliefs actually are. One way to dump beliefs out on the table so you can sort through them is to play a “fill in the blank” game. For example, “In order to be successful at Microsoft, I need to … X,Y, and Z” This is simple, but powerful.
Related to this, In NLP, there’s the concept of a “Convincer Strategy.” Simply put, it’s — what’s the pattern for how you believe something or how you become convinced something is true? Do you need to see it for yourself? Do you need to hear it from three separate people? Once you know the convincer strategy for yourself and others, it’s easier to understand why some ideas are readily adopted, while others are perpetually dismissed.
What’s important is that you can use these simple concepts to be smarter about what you choose to believe and to improve your accuracy around expectations and beliefs about your unfolding reality in an ever-changing world.
Photo by Untitled Blue.