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Soubresaut's avatar

Do you know where your beliefs came from?

Asked by Soubresaut (13700points) November 28th, 2010

The more aware I’m becoming of what I and everyone around me believes, the more I’m realizing that less and less of what I think and believe actually came from me.
Most of it is from what my parents drilled into me when I was very little. The rest of it is mostly what everyone else was able to squeeze in.

There’s barely even a handful that I can truly call mine, and me. And part of me is scared that I’m just deluding myself thinking that that’s what’s me.

Beliefs are tricky in that they’re very very hard to change. Even if I want to believe something else, even if I think something else is more true or fits me better, I can’t help but feel like I’m fooling myself.—Or maybe it’s feel like it’s more true, but think I’m fooling myself? I don’t even know.—All the beliefs I’ve been taught feel so real that it’s like they’re guests that have over-done their stay inside my mind, but I can’t shoo them.

Things like what happens after death, how you should live your life, pursue passions, make a living. None of what I believe is coming from me or what I want. But it’s there.

Half the problem for me, I guess, is I’m still trying to sort through what’s me and what’s not. But even when I know something’s not me, I can’t get it go leave. And even when I know something is me, I can’t bring it out if it would counter a force-fed belief.

Do you have the same problem? Thoughts and beliefs that originated in others who felt the need to put them into your mind? What do you do with them now? How do you feel about them? Do they constrict you, or do you find yourself congruent with them?
Or why don’t you have them?

What is yours and what isn’t?
Or are you fully you?

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22 Answers

marinelife's avatar

At this point in my life, most of what I believe is my own. What comes after death, how I feel about religion, politics, etc. is all developed over many years of thinking about and reading about these issues.

To dislodge a stubborn belief, you need to study the issue yourself. Familiarize yourself with the different points of view. While you are doing that, some things will start to resonate for you. As you go through life and experience particular things, your beliefs will be tweaked naturally.

TexasDude's avatar

My beliefs are no doubt influenced by what I was taught growing up, but I am also a wildly independent individual, and as such, I have always tried to be acutely aware of how and why I believe what I believe and where these beliefs come from.

wundayatta's avatar

My parents didn’t force me any beliefs. They just made it very clear what they believed and how they thought one should live life. No, it really wasn’t clear. It was an example, and sometimes it was specific things they said they believed, mostly about how to treat other people.

My beliefs now are informed by 54 years of living, many discussions, and much experience. I am influenced by many people, and continue to get more influences from people such as those I have met at fluther.

JLeslie's avatar

Mostly from my parents, they are atheists and so am I. But, now that I have been exposed to many beliefs, I would say the beliefs are now my own.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

The beliefs I hold now are my own. I am atheist, but didn’t start off that way. I always questioned the existence of “god” since I was child. So I searched for my own truths. Observed. Came to my own conclusions.

Cruiser's avatar

Most of my “beliefs” came from my parents, but I owe a lot to my best friend Mike who together we slayed many of the myths of my youth and what the government and our public education was attempting to convince us to believe in.

Blondesjon's avatar

Yes. Reality.

YARNLADY's avatar

By the time I was 25 I had so many questions, I began a study of beliefs, religions, and philosophy and formed a lot of my own opinions over the years.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I have always believed that the unexamined faith is no faith at all. We cannot simply slide into a belief system like we do a new suit of clothes and expect it to have lasting impact in our lives. There is nothing wrong with believing the same as your parents believe, but those beliefs should be examined to determine if they match what you see as logical and rational, or furthering things you see as right. The same thing operates in reverse for rebelling against what our parents ( or society, etc. ) teach us. Acting out of rebellion against is just as disfunctional as acting in blind obedience to.

muppetish's avatar

It baffled me when I was a kid that there were people who did not develop their beliefs separate from their family. Almost every kid I knew from school followed every word their parents said. I didn’t ignore my parents’ beliefs out of any rebellious principle… but I did have a different perspective on just about everything (especially religion and politics.)

I think I made others extremely uncomfortable as a result.

Qingu's avatar

@DancingMind, are you familiar with the idea that beliefs act like “replicators” called memes?

A meme is a belief—or a song, or an icon, or some sort of “cultural unit”—that gets passed from brain to brain. This environment—a bunch of beliefs floating around that all can influence behavior and copy themselves”—actually resembles Darwinian gene selection. So basically, beliefs use our brains almost in a parasitic fashion to copy themselves to other brains. The best beliefs pass down most often, and “parent to child” is a common transmission method.

You can treat beliefs as these entities entirely separate from the brains that hold them. Your brain and your whole identity, in one sense, is just a vessel for the ecosystem of beliefs.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I’m doing my best to reject beliefs altogether. Not an easy task, but I believe it is as good as any.

starsofeight's avatar

I have a belief, and a habit, I pay my bills before I do anything else with my income. Been that ways for years, and hold to it as a truth. It did not originate in me, but came from my Dad. It probably did not originate in him. I can trace such a line of ‘influence’, and ‘adopted belief/behavior’ back and back, and further back still. However, there is never only one line of influence. Many things act to influence us, and we as individuals do not stand static, but take to ourselves, build, refine. What comes from others, as far as beliefs go, is just as much yours as it is theirs. Why try to separate the whole into parts?

Coloma's avatar

@marinelife
mirrors my sentiments exactly!

Blackberry's avatar

Understanding and trying to understand the world I’m in.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@muppetish

Sounds like one or both of your parents gave you permission to think. : )

Jenniehowell's avatar

My beliefs began with my parents & expanded outward from there. Adjustments in my
beliefs were made as I experienced life in ways that were contrary to what my parents taught. More adjustments came as I discovered the differences between my parents as parents & as people. Then more as I discovered the facts & lact of facts in some of their teachings until finally I can say I am in a place where my beliefs are more my own with the simple framework provided by my parents. As I move into the next phase of adjusments it becomes more me challenging my own beliefs in seek of facts that I can rest my beliefs on & claim to be truth. Of course truth is relative & facts always being discovered & changed as we move thru time so all the truths I rest upon are simply truths for me though they may be common to others the more likely commonality is intelligence levels combined with experience.

anothermember's avatar

My main belief is question everything. It came from paranoia that everyone is trying to change me to their beliefs.
Although some people ( Police ) do not like it when you question them so this does generally get you in trouble.

Although my moral beliefs come from experience as well.

I guess it comes down to you are what you read.

Harold's avatar

I was raised as a Christian, left it as a teenager, and came back after a lot of reading and thought as it is the only belief system that makes sense to me. My beliefs came from a rational decision to follow what makes the most sense.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Harold

Much the same thing happened in my case. You are to be commended for examining your beliefs rationally.

Harold's avatar

@CaptainHarley -thank you, and commendations to you too!!

mattbrowne's avatar

Listening, observing, reading, talking, critical thinking.

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