Belief is a feeling of certainty about something. However, I speak with so many people who espouse certain beliefs whose lives do not exhibit they truly believe what they are saying. I think so much of the time people are actually attempting to convince themselves of what they say they believe because their actions are contrary to what they proclaim.
There is a concept in psychology known as individuation. This describes the process of separating from your family and developing your own unique identity. It requires you to question your family beliefs, political views, religious beliefs, and societal rules. Doing so often leads to disapproval or possible abandonment of some sort, which is why so few complete this developmental task.
Authenticity requires courage
It takes courage and fortitude to do so. Many either rebel and reject what they have known or accept it without scrutiny. In my opinion, this is one of the leading reasons people lead lives that are incongruent with what they say they believe. The truth is is their worldview is not truly theirs at the core.
A person who is emotionally developed can do what philosopher Ken Wilber defines as 'transcend and include'. Let me give you an example. I grew up the son of a Protestant minister. As I matured, I began to question many things about the faith I had been taught. They were either illogical to me or did not feel authentic to who I was as an individual. As a result, I discarded various aspects of my faith. However, there were central teachings of Jesus that resonated with me and I believed to be true. I went on to study many other world religions in my quest for truth, such as Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism among others. Those aspects of each I found to be true I integrated into my spirituality.
The payoff for staying true to yourself
I had to face many internal fears and faced a great deal of attack, rejection, and criticism from others at times. But I was committed to truth and being authentic. I transcended many of the beliefs I no longer found to be true and included those I did. Now my spiritual views are authentic and my own. Again, most people will' either throw the baby out with the bathwater 'or 'drink the Kool Aid'. The transcending and including concept applies to the other areas I mentioned as well, such as societal and family rules and political views.
Undertaking this task requires work and courage. But the payoff is worth it: living an authentic and true life. If your actions do not match what you assert you believe, take the time today to reflect on whether you life is really your own or if your are living mindlessly out of what you have been told by others. Just because someone says something confidently doesn't mean they are right. I have seen amazingly charismatic speakers throughout my life who could captivate a crowd but were dead wrong in their content.
Surround yourself with those who are capable of making a safe space for you to question and explore, even if they disagree with you. Moreover, become this for others. The journey to where I am today was definitely a struggle at times, but well worth it; I would do it a hundred times over. It has brought me so much peace and fulfillment. I don't know where you are on yours today, but you have an ally in me. Feel free to contact me anytime if I can offer an guidance, support, or encouragement.
John Hawkins Jr., M.S., L.M.H.C.
John has helped thousands of clients overcome the hidden internal blocks which had kept them from achieving their maximum potential. Furthermore, he has assisted them in gaining clarity of their true life purpose, identifying their gifts and talents, and developing lives of greater meaning and significance.