Perhaps you never even considered why this is important? To have purpose and meaning for our lives, we need to take another look at optimism, beliefs and values.
Let’s start with beliefs.
Beliefs are what we maintain to be true about something, someone, ourselves, our environment, events, etc. It is what we accept as truth.
Belief systems are always unique to each individual person. Each develops their own way of seeing or perceiving and interpreting the world. Beliefs influence our perception of how we should or must act; what is expected of us. Reality is always filtered through this personal perceptual belief system.
Most beliefs have nothing to do with actual truth or reality. They are formed as a result of the needs and expectations of our parents, teachers, and culture and by our own need to be loved, accepted and feel that we belong. They are developed when we are too young to evaluate their truth; so many beliefs are distorted and biased.
Beliefs are powerful motivators.
Their power comes from the premise that we believe they are true and therefore must be obeyed. Not only do we feel guilty and a bad person when we don’t follow their dictates, but we also expect others to follow the same rules and beliefs. When forced to choose between legitimate needs or desires and absolute beliefs, an impossible situation is created.
Beliefs form the foundation of our value system. They define purpose and meaning in our life. It also becomes the cornerstone of morals and ethics. Our beliefs and the value we put on those beliefs influence how we think and behave. As adults we rarely take time to examine or question what we believe and why.
Unhealthy beliefs are rigid, introjected, unrealistic and restrictive.
Rigid beliefs demand that you obey them or you will feel worthless or bad. They use words such as never, always, all, perfect.
Introjected beliefs are the beliefs and values of our parents and others that we accept as our own without questioning. They may not be right for you.
Unrealistic beliefs dictate prescribed behavior that is absolute; you act in a certain way regardless of negative consequences to self or others.
Restrictive beliefs are those that run contrary to the needs required to live a healthy life. They are full of “shoulds”.
Healthy beliefs and values are flexible and allow for exceptions. They are owned. They make sense and are chosen and accepted by us after careful consideration.
Realistic beliefs are assessed in terms of their consequences and meet the needs of a healthy individual without long-term harmful or painful consequences for self or others.
What do you believe in?
What do you believe about yourself? Do you believe you have what it takes to overcome all odds? Do you believe you can make it? Do you believe that with the help of others and God you can muster the courage and strength to meet the obstacles in your life?
Make a list of all the beliefs you hold to be true about yourself, others and the world you live in. Expand the list as you become aware of them.