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Belief is not a choice...or so they say.

Updated: Mar 23

Over the last few weeks, I have been churning over a TikTok I saw recently. Do you ever get one of those stuck in your head? Your mind works it over to make sense of it, you question what you believe about it and it just sits with you until you find a way to resolve it.

Ya…that's been me for about 2 weeks or so.

It wasn't a new topic to me but for some reason, it just stood out in a way that I couldn't ignore or “just be ok with”.

This TikTok said that we can't choose what we believe.

On the surface, you could probably say “so what and why does that matter?" But, you see, I think it matters…a lot. In fact, after several weeks of diving into this, I actually think it's the whole point.

In short, the argument or narrative of the TikTok video was that it's impossible for us to choose what we believe because we have to be convinced of a new belief. We can't just one day or one moment decide to believe something else. Now, this feels incredibly hopeless to me. It feels powerless. It feels like I'm just subject to my programming.

And there was another little piece that was standing out to me. This TikTok was made by someone who was raised in the Christian faith system and later walked away from it. Her account is content for the deconstructionist or the ex-evangelical. Her conversation is about how toxic Christianity is. So I find it interesting that she wants us to know unequivocally that we can not choose our beliefs. So it made me think…..

Why do we NEED to believe that we CAN'T change our beliefs?

I landed on two reasons.

  1. We don't understand how the mind works in regard to beliefs and programming. (which I will dive into in just a moment) and/or we are using the wrong language.

  2. We have a secondary gain for holding on to the belief that “we can't change our beliefs." What I mean by this is that there is a reason or a benefit to holding on to it. I'm thinking that benefit is so that we don't have to take on the responsibility of what we were previously a part of in that particular belief. And sometimes, that's a lot of responsibility.

  3. Ok… a third reason. This reason sort of piggybacks the second reason. We can remain a victim of a previous belief or belief system. And this has quite a bit of secondary gain for us. Seeing ourselves as a victim sometimes allows us to process the change in our beliefs without responsibility or ownership of the belief.

Why do we need to take responsibility for a belief?

No one really wants responsibility for more than they need to be responsible for, right? And if my belief that I no longer hold is one that I didn't have a choice in at the beginning, why should I be responsible for it now?

So let me address our language just a bit because language is everything.


When I hear this conversation come up, the word "belief" seems to be used in a way that beliefs are like a hardwire of ourselves. Choice then becomes what we do within that belief.


For example: If the belief is that God exists then the choice is actually about whether I follow that God or not. If I were to no longer believe God exists, then I would need to be convinced of it and "lose" or "drop" my belief. Yet as this TikTok laid out, "I can't help what I'm convinced of". I find this quite cyclical in reasoning, actually. It just sort of loops back on itself with no real conclusion. The examples often given for choices we make seem to have more to do with behavior or decisions, like what I will eat for dinner or how I take my coffee. But belief, under this thinking, can't be a choice "because it's not something you can switch back and forth from fluidly like any other choice you would make" (as laid out in the TikTok I watched).


I think we have to understand three words: Programming, Belief, and Choice.


Programming

Everything that exists outside of us is raw data. Think about the environment you were raised in, the house, the family structure, the town, the country, and the community. It's all information that we take into our mind (conscious and unconscious). And it's that very powerful human mind of yours that gives that raw data its meaning.


For example: you were raised in a blue house on a country road 10 miles from town.

The raw data is that it's a blue house on a country road located 10 miles from town.

How we feel about the house, what the bumpy ride to town felt like or whether we wished we lived in town instead....well, that's all the meaning we give it.


We give raw data meaning by the way we filter all the raw data that comes to us. It's a lot of data so we have to decide what data we use and what we store. Is this starting to sound like a computer system? It kind of is. Our brain has to make use of what it takes in or it will overload. We can't manage all the information at once. Consider how a car accident happens and 3 eyewitnesses can give very different accounts of the same incident. Sometimes it's a vantage point. It's also how these 3 different minds processed the sight, sound, smell, touch, and maybe even taste of it. Raw data takes on different meanings based on who is filtering that information.


So how do we filter all this information?


Well, our brains have a system for that! They are called...wait for it...FILTERS! We have 7 of them, in fact. These filters delete what's not needed or useful to avoid overload, they distort or make meaning of the information coming in, and they create generalizations based on past experiences.


The filters used are Values, Beliefs, Attitudes, Memories, Decisions, Language, and meta-programs (the way you are organized unconsciously). Filters are generated from our upbringing, the environments we grew up in, and even learning within and from SEEs (Significant emotional events).


If I haven't lost you yet, think of it like this...


You buy a computer. It comes with an operating system. It's pretty neutral because we haven't customized it to our needs yet. But it will do certain very powerful things for us when we begin adding new information to it. It's hardwired to process our data entry and turn it into something...make it useful. It's in this processing that our computer becomes signature to us to do the things we need or want it to do. A picture we've uploaded to our computer is just pixels with information that form a whole of some kind. It doesn't have meaning until you look at it and you remember where it was taken and what you were doing that day with those people. The filter you used to give it meaning might be a memory experienced by 2 or more of your five senses. Or it might be an emotion you had during the snapshot...or both or more filters. But if I look at that picture on your computer and know no one in it or I don't have familiarity with the setting, it's just a stock photo, right?


Our programming is the collection of all this raw data over possibly a lifetime that we have attributed meaning to through our various filters. It's like a map, but not a raw map. It's a map of YOUR reality. It has meaning.



Beliefs

Beliefs are a filter. Beliefs are your convictions. This is what you hold to be true. If you believe that God exists (per our previous example of the Tik Tok post), then when all that raw data comes in, you will either delete out what doesn't agree with your belief that God exists, you will distort the information to agree with the belief or we will generalize it to fit our past experiences of God existing. When we have a strong conviction or belief then the filter is powerful all on its own, but that filter is never alone. It has other filters working with it. Remember...values, memories, decisions, language, attitudes, and meta-programs. If you hold it to be true that God exists, then you will move anything out of the way that doesn't agree with it.


Let's say then that your friend across the room had a different belief filtering the same raw data as you but has a belief that God DOESN'T exist. They will do the same process and form a different reality. Mind blown yet?


Choice

The choices we make are essentially our behaviors. These come from our perceived reality...it's what has happened after this filtering process and associating memory to all that data. Think of choice as the byproduct of all the hard work your mind is doing for you at rapid-fire levels.


So can we choose our beliefs?


I love how my own coach put it...


"Most of us forget, or don't realize how much choice we have. Once we realize what a belief is, (something we *know* to be true) and that we can change it, we realize we can open up our world to see other things that others know to be true and choose.

If someone believes in God, it is either through choice or because they've never questioned what they were taught. There's no right or wrong in it but it doesn't change that there is belief there." ~ Hayley Carr (personal chat message with me)...and I'm thinking we might just do a whole podcast episode on this together!


You see, awareness of what we do believe is essentially taking responsibility for what we believe. Once we are aware, we can make the choice to keep it (because it's serving our desired outcomes), question it (see if there is more information for this filter), or change it (adjust the filter for the desired life outcomes).


When we change a filter we essentially change how all the data is processed. Change your filters and you will change your life, as my coach tells me regularly!


Now that's empowerment. And that's why I can't get on board with our beliefs not being a choice.

I am more than a being waiting to be convinced of something.

I actually have this amazing power to create the reality I want.

If I want to see the world through the lens that God exists, I can.

If I want to see the world through a lens that many gods exist, I can.

If I want to see the world through the lens that no god exists, I can.


What I filter for is what I will see. I create my own reality.


The responsibility here, in my opinion, is that the more information we allow, then the more honest we can make our filters...honest to all that is out there to know. If I keep my questions to a minimum and quiet my curiosity, then nothing will change. I will keep seeing the world and my life as I was programmed to from childhood. Good or bad.


If you could change a belief you have, what would you change? What would you liberate yourself from? How would it change your life?


Liberate your programming and you liberate your life!


PS~ want to dive even deeper into this rabbit hole? Did you know that our beliefs are the deepest trance state of our minds? Listen in here!







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