Perhaps one of the most incovenient truths out there is that we all have beliefs. Most of us would realize that beliefs are subjective concepts that we hold to be true, which may or may not in fact be true. In practice, our beliefs play such a large role in forming our realities, and subsequently, the way we think and behave, that unless we make an effort to be self-aware, we may have a hard time even identifying what those beliefs are. Recognizing other people’s realities and being empathetic thus, is an even greater challenge.
As a parent, one of the amazing and perhaps most burdensome knowledge is the beliefs are not explicitly taught. Beliefs are absorbed into our beings from our earliest experiences, each contributing to a foundation for our attitudes towards ourselves, others, and the world around us. Once formed, these outlooks act as a filter through which we experience the world, informing our every action or inaction, intricately contributing to the patterned responses to life situations that we know as our personalities. These truths that we hold within ourselves become such a large part of our identities that our minds default to defending their truth above all else, even if it means we behave in ways that we personally are not proud of.
Having beliefs have little to do with whether we are religious or secular. Religious people publicly admit to having some strong beliefs about the existence of a diety, and are often made examples of how an unwavering commitment to certain ideas as truth can make us close-minded to alternative ideas. Scientists, in particular, may pride themselves in their own rational, logical, and objective way of thinking, not realizing that they, too, accept some ideas as unquestionable truth. For some, it is more difficult to accept this part of being human than others.
How we cope with people, ideas, and situations that challenge the varacity of our beliefs is largely instinctual. Growth is a process by which we gain skills in managing our instincts. It requires the discomfort and inconvenience of self-examination and challenging our own beliefs. By identifying our core beliefs and ensuring that they are consistent with who we want to be, we take responsibility for who we become.