Belief Systems
. A belief system provides a core set of values on which we base everything we do, say, or believe in life. Everybody interprets life’s events differently. What’s traumatic to one person doesn’t necessarily traumatize others. Regardless, belief systems can be empowering or disabling. They can be built on optimism or pessimism. Our beliefs determine what we think, and what actions we are capable of, or incapable of. What our parents taught us as children, a traumatic event, or a breach of trust, can sometimes influence our belief system. For example, if we have been raised in a family where there was a lot of negativity, we may end up internalizing shame, guilt, and have low self-worth. These dysfunctional beliefs are the core of our belief system. Ultimately, we create our own belief system based on the conclusions we draw from our understanding of events in our lives and the results they produce. In any case, altering our belief system can be difficult since it is so deeply ingrained in us. The most important thing to remember about a belief system is that it fails us from time to time, especially since we are constantly changing and growing. It can be compared to clothes that grow old and wear out and need to be thrown out and replaced or sometimes we just may need a change. Depression, fear, isolation, anxiety, panic, and addiction, are some indicators that a fresh approach is needed in our life. Perhaps it’s time to seek some help to change in order to live life to its fullest.
All of our beliefs are based on our experiences in life, consequently, we need to question the premises of our beliefs and determine what needs to be changed. It’s during the change process that we feel fear--- fear of the unknown. We are venturing outside of what we previously set up as boundaries to our safe harbor. At this time we can feel lost if we don't have some fresh knowledge or a new belief structure to put in its place. Overcoming the fear of change involves accepting that our beliefs will change over time. It’s empowering to take control of the change so that it occurs at our own pace. It is important to periodically re-evaluate our belief system in order to identify what is causing the problems and it is also critical to maturing and growing. Problematic behavior is easier to identify than unhealthy thoughts, because behavior is concrete and overt. Unacceptable behaviour would include procrastination, lateness or excessive absence from work, and chronically cancelling or avoiding social engagements. Everyone has a belief system that stems from experiences with our family of origin, or with friends or loved ones from childhood.
We can define our values as a 'set of rules' that determines how we process and store information as it comes in through our conscious mind. Our conscious mind takes these rules and shaves off the sides, planes the ends, and polishes the exterior to make them easier to process and store in our subconscious. The subconscious then takes a given processed piece of information and, according to our rules, associates it with other information that we classify as 'solid' and 'accurate.' During this association, we begin to understand the new information and are better able to assimilate it for future reference.
But when we receive new information, we can run into trouble. If we have a solid set of rules by which information is processed, the new information is stored in the same manner as all other information. However, if any unknown elements are left open, like empty branches of a tree, it must be filled with pertinent information that can help us understand how the new information fits into our lives. Since we have a base of knowledge from which to function, we can easily go out and find the answers to our questions to fill in the gaps that this new, unknown information created.
But, without any rules, new information is just tossed into the corner of our minds. Our conscious mind, in an attempt to organize the information, devises a set of questions that need to be answered. We then begin to focus on these issues, and eventually other questions are brought up , causing us to cringe in fear and become stuck. Our minds are so trapped by these 'free-floating' questions that we end up in a state of confusion and, in some cases, overwhelming depression results and life seems to be caving in all around us, rendering our lives completely out of control.
--- Identifying a Belief System ---
When we are born, we 'are' and it 'is.' We come into being and we become conscious of the things around us. Eventually, through experimentation, we discover that things are hot, cold, hard, soft, bright, or dark. But, we have to go beyond these initial pieces of information and learn how to work with others, move about in the world, expand our consciousness, and become whatever we desire. To identify the core of your belief system, define those things that you hold dear. Family, friends, career, your car, a boat, anything that you feel is important to you , in some way defines who you feel you are. If you just say 'high morals,' that is not a belief; it is a 'belief package' that contains various aspects of what you believe. The core of a belief system contains things that mean something to you and provide you with your values.
Values are those items on which we base decisions and provide a foundation for associating and analyzing experiences. To find your core values, take each of the items from the previous paragraph and explain why these things are important to you. This will give you an idea of what you believe in, and what you value in life.
--- Redefining a Belief System ---
We have to occasionally reassess our values to see if they still fit into our current lifestyle and direction. The old values were put in place to keep us safe and get us started on the next leg of our journey. They allow us to process information so that we can categorize and file new information in a logical and orderly fashion. Such values keep us from doing things that, at that time, are dangerous to us emotionally, mentally, or physically. But, as we grow, mature, and learn, we are able to gradually handle more of what life hands us. It is then that we must be able to reassess our values to get rid of old, unnecessary rules and put in place new ones that allow us to move forward in life.
--- What's next? ---
It is important to put forth the effort to define our belief systems through conscious, rational thought and logical deliberation. We have to consider our current values, examine our lives, establish a new set of values, and adjust these values as we grow, to accommodate future decisions and promote further growth. If we allow our subconscious mind to accumulate unanswered questions and unrelated information, we will process new information in such a way as to create unwarranted conclusions, false generalizations, undefined contradictions, unidentified wishes, doubts, and fears all thrown together by chance into a mass of confusion called 'self-doubt.'
A solid belief system provides us with a set of core values that mature with our experiences and cognitive growth. By organizing experiences, we are better able to organize how we handle future experiences. Organized experiences provide us with a sense of accomplishment because our perspective is one of success and control as opposed to having a morass of disconnected and confusing memories. By connecting knowledge and experiences through existing knowledge, we can associate situations with previous knowledge, and gain additional knowledge as we navigate through life.
Author's Bio:
There is a way to organize all of our memories and experiences in a usable and tidy system that works for us. It's not an easy chore, but sometimes it is necessary to redefine our values to achieve the fulfilling lives we desire.

Author's Bio: 

"I am a therapist who has a deep understanding of problems in relationships, addiction, depression, anxiety etc.. This understanding comes as a result of my academic background as well as from having been in active therapy myself. I know all too well what it's like to have challenges in life, and to try and struggle through problems. I personally have experienced difficult times in life, just like everyone else. I tried extremely hard to turn my life around on my own and eventually found that this was an impossible task. I kept trying to resolve my own problems but now understand that I had never been taught effective coping strategies and therefore lacked the appropriate skills necessary in order to turn my life around. I was only after I sought professional help myself back in 1985 that I was able to effectively change my life.