About Belief Systems
_ Belief Systems, Belief Structures, Self-Beliefs
We are least open to precise knowledge concerning the things we are most vehement about.
author & philosopher
This subject about belief systems really addresses what much of what self-improvement and life-change is all about. In fact, it addresses what every psychotherapeutic approach is about, and over decades, has been a forgotten but vital dynamic that governs whether any psychodynamic intervention will 'work' or 'not work.' This is one of my pet subjects and enters any discussion or presentation I give on such matters as "human mind change". But it's enough to say now that every person's belief system really decides:-
· What the state of health, attitude, wealth and life-disposition is for that person, and
· Whether newer and more productive information can be accepted.
The things that we believe about ourselves predicate (assert/affirm) our overall status. In other words, we are what we believe and who we believe we are. If those beliefs are unproductive and negative, then we might say that we are prisoners of our beliefs and our whole belief system.
So, what's the big deal about belief systems? When teaching and training clinical affectologists, I am adamant that the outcomes and effects of any psychotherapy are much reduced unless we take care to help make adjustments to any negative belief systems. As Goethe implies, missing the first buttonhole makes buttoning up your coat impossible. That's an apt metaphor for our subject. In order for change to occur, let's first ensure that a productive and positive belief system is set in place.
In psychology, as in many other aspects of life, it is said you can't change what you don't acknowledge. And it's exactly right, but I take it a step further and say that you can't even acknowledge that which is not within your understanding. So it’s of benefit to increase or change our understanding about some of the things we may have not even previously thought were important.
We human beings are governed by our belief systems or our belief structures. If we believe something strongly enough, it is so for us.
I am about to delve slightly into the mystery and wonder of our affect neurological system – the part of us that is responsible for maintaining our emotional and mental state of being. I must do this simply to show how it is that a strongly held belief system will repel new information, no matter how positive or productive that information might be. And in order to make any headway, that belief system must be shifted, not through direct instruction or any order to do so, but through the delivery of new information that makes sense.
When we have a belief system, whether new or old, this insists that we have an 'emotional imperative' for that system (those beliefs) to be right. And that emotional (or affect) imperative has definite influence over the affect storage mechanisms at amygdaloid-hippocampal level in the primal, limbic brain. Affective Neuroscience has shown that emotional reaction information and non-conscious memory is encoded in various parts of this limbic system of the brain. This unconscious memory (encoded information) resides distributed within the amygdale, two small almond shaped bodies at the anterior aspect of the limbic brain, and the hippocampus, a larger body situated behind it.
That limbic brain system is responsible for 'directing' the autonomic nervous system to send particular messages to all aspects of the body. The body responds in what we call somatic markers that signal us what our emotions should be at any given time. So, on the one hand, if we hold to a particular belief or set of beliefs, then the ‘body’ responds to those beliefs because the brain insists on the body following the stored emotional support of the beliefs. And on the other hand, if those beliefs change through the act of receiving commonsense and believable information – new information – then our whole 'feeling' existence changes along with those beliefs. For this reason, I say that the information that I give you here is very important in the task of bringing about whole self change.
You've no doubt heard of the fight or flight response, in which any threat to a person's state of health or wellbeing results in an automatic and unthinking general reaction, intended to protect the status quo. And this reaction is immediate, occurring well before the thinking and reasoning aspects of the brain have time to spring into action. In neurological terms, this is explained as 'a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system, priming the animal (person) for fighting or fleeing.' In more useful language for us in this project, it can be useful to think of it in this way:-
So, here we get to the crux of the matter. If you have an established belief structure about your state of being and how and why it came about, and you are then offered information that conflicts with that belief system, then your reaction to that new information will not be reasoned in the sense that you will easily regard it as having any merit. This is natural, understandable, and Nature's way of maintaining the status quo for you. So clearly, in order to allow for any change in unproductive belief systems, the new information must have merit in a way that allows for a steady absorption, rather than to be presented as an intellectual assault. I hope and believe that I have developed that 'way.'
A colleague psychologist wrote in a recent paper, Particularly in this day and age, our job is as much psycho-educative as it is psychotherapeutic and perhaps the key to a client's path to better mental and emotional health is a more useful knowledge of and about themselves and their mental processes.
It would be no secret that I support this statement fully. There is much to be said for the importance of the belief structures of any of us, their plasticity toward positive change and the effect the belief system has on the placebo effect/response AND the effect the belief system has on the nocebo response and its resistance to modification. I hope what I've written above has been enough to convince you that the giving of adequate and correct information is an important step toward your path to a more satisfying life and relief from older patterns and 'scripts'.
A stable belief system rules your life. If it is based on myths about
your health and your wellbeing status in life, what have been preverbal and peri-natal encodings and unconscious scripts, and it is holding you firmly in its grasp. Your belief system must be modified (with and by positive and productive information) in your best interests by discovering the truth and rehabilitating your resources to change and grow.
A stable belief system rules your life. If it is based on myths about depression, it is holding you firmly in its grasp. Your belief system must be modified in your best interests by discovering the t