A belief is an attitude, a familiar face, an interlock between your understanding of this world and how the world actually works. There are tons of reasons behind our beliefs, why we need them, and their effects on us. To understand the science behind belief, start with accepting that our beloved world is full of lies, frauds, raving people, and outrages upon justice. Please face the fact that you are a liar too. Don’t you lie to yourself about having a bright future ahead? Don’t you think people around might change one day? Don’t you say you believe in this or you believe in that every day?
Some say beliefs are totally about where you grow up and what kind of people raised you. Just imagine that you are a daughter of a slave in Europe, in the 1400s. Most probably all of the people around you visit church frequently and believe in hunting witches and buying land from heaven. In this atmosphere, doing the same things with all the other people would make perfect sense. However, not all of our copy and paste what we see in our minds and behave according to them. There is always one person to question everything and stand out. For instance; Mondino de Luzzi performed the first recorded public dissection of a corpse, a practice highly frowned upon by the Catholic Church. By this means, we can see that beliefs are just fitting in for some and for the others they can be absolutely personal stuff that they rack their brains with.
Well, it is now clear what beliefs depend on. But why do we even need beliefs? Are they just teasers for our grey matter or are they something more complex like escape methods? Let’s start with a common, much-debated one: Is there a creator? In view of the fact that only the Muslim and Christian people make up 56% of the world’s population, it seems like most of the people have found the answer. However, when we take a closer look, we can deduce that most of these people neither have read the holy scriptures nor questioned them. By this means, we can reach to the conclusion that these people are, most probably, under the influence of environmental factors such as peer and family pressure, indoctrination to anti-atheist bigotry, and the high respect shown to religious people.
Other reasons for believing in God are fear of death, injustice, and the burden of stress and care of life. Let’s be honest to ourselves, it is tough to handle the daily hustles without having faith. Furthermore, tragic events such as accidents and deaths of relatives may induce people to spend more time praying and worshiping.
Here comes the last and the most controversial part of beliefs: What is the overall effect of beliefs in our lives? Do they liberate us to live a beautiful life or do they pare us to the bone with strict rules? I believe, the answer lies in the dusty pages of history. In Middle Ages, whole Europe was seething with scholasticism which disallowed them to read the Bible, question this world with their own logic, and choose if they believe in Christianity or not. These type of restrictive and obligatory beliefs causes people to have a dull life, not being able to work for their dreams and aspirations. Even today, in our modern world, most religions require you to pray frequently and tell yourself how to live your life. For instance, some Muslim women wear hijab and stay out of the business world for the sake of their beliefs.
Besides the rules and procedures of religions, there may be more personal beliefs like believing that you aren’t allowed to make mistakes or believing that you are the best at everything. These types of thoughts that one believes to be the absolute truth are called limiting beliefs. Although these are mostly unconscious thoughts, they are known to result in negative outcomes like conformism, overthinking, anxiety, and impostor syndrome. These opinions, most probably, will limit you in your career and daily life.
Our beliefs always threatening? Of course, we can’t generalize products of human minds to such a thing. If you shape your beliefs according to your needs and wants, chances are that they will help you to be the best version of yourself. The key to having positive beliefs is managing to alter your thoughts, emotions, and social environment.
The long and short of the matter is that beliefs are naturally occurring things that every human being experiences. Despite the fact that they are mostly shaped by environmental factors, they are still outputs of our minds and hearts. That’s why we shouldn’t forget that we are the storyteller, the director of our lives, and the determinants of our own destinies. As long as we pull the strings of our minds, we can reshape and designate our beliefs so that they will stand us in good stead. Don’t be a slave to your inner voice, shut the negative tunes down and break your chains!