Every single one of us is uniquely different in so many ways. To list all of the ways in which we differ would take thousands and thousands of words and pages, so we won’t attempt to do that here. However, when it comes to our beliefs, it is readily identifiable that we tend to differ from just about everybody else in terms of how we think about things. In fact, when we meet somebody who actually shares many of our same beliefs or perspectives, we tend to gravitate towards those people as it often can be the basis of a true connection. Even still, no two people will share the same exact set of beliefs or look at things exactly the same all the time.
So where do beliefs come from? How do we develop our beliefs? Well, for some people, the answer to this may be disappointing. For others, it may bring about feelings of pride and appreciation. The answer: your parents, guardians, peers, and your environment during your upbringing. That’s it. Core beliefs are developed at a very early age and they are locked in through experiences that validate and reinforce those beliefs. From there, all new experiences, people that you encounter, etc. are filtered through those beliefs.
For some people, these molding factors were positive as the person developed into a very balanced, levelheaded, reasonable, and rational being. For other people, who were perhaps raised in not so healthy environments or by adults who had difficulty tolerating distress and managing their moods, it is very possible that these individuals will possess beliefs that are maladaptive or unhelpful.
An example of this is the idea of safety. If you grew up in a relatively safe neighborhood and were told by those around you that you were safe, you are more likely to believe that the world is generally safe, others are not dangerous, that others can be trusted, and be open to trusting others with your well-being. As you go on in life, experiences reinforce and validate this belief. If an experience comes along that challenges this belief, you will be left with two choices: either discredit the one experience as an anomaly, or alternately, change your belief system to now accommodate the new information (this usually means becoming more protective and fearful about your safety).
If on the other hand you were raised to believe that the world is unsafe and people are out to get you, you are likely to approach new environments and people with suspicion and perhaps paranoia. Similar to the other example, there will be experiences that will come along that will serve to validate this belief. Negatively-oriented beliefs are harder to disconfirm due to the self-fulfilling prophecy. With the self fulfilling prophecy, you are likely to seek out evidence to confirm your beliefs. So it is possible that you will identify experiences or information to validate your beliefs that the world is unsafe (even if an objective bystander would say otherwise). There is still hope, however, as beliefs can be changed.
You Are Not Stuck with Your Unhelpful Beliefs
The mind is a very plastic part of the self. This means that if you have beliefs that are not working for you, it is actually very possible to change these beliefs to make them more positive while also being realistic and rational. There are incredibly useful forms of therapy that target this exact thing.
Our beliefs are everything. They guide our thoughts, which has a direct impact on our emotions, which then has a direct impact on our behaviors. By working on changing unhelpful or maladaptive beliefs, you can do wonders for your mental well-being, your relationships, your efficacy, success, etc. Our beliefs literally shape everything in our environment as they are how we approach life.