In this Article, I want to discuss Journaling relative to discovering what we Believe and, perhaps, how our Belief Systems have affected and/or created our present Reality. It may come as a surprise, but few individuals know what it is they believe, only periodically becoming upset and angry when the Beliefs are challenges

Journaling is a very effective way of self-discovery, and can be used in many ways to accomplish healing and personal growth. In order to begin, it simply requires a blank book, or notebook of some type, and your setting aside quite, undisturbed, time to write down your thoughts and memories. (For more information regarding the process and potential for Journaling, a good place to gain information is:

In Belief-system Journaling, one is attempting to bring into conscious awareness what we, as individuals, have been Programmed and Indoctrinated to Believe in early life by our Families and their collective Belief Systems. After this has been done to some degree, then one can advance to later Programming and Indoctrination one has taken on over time. Everyone, I am sure, would like to believe that they have developed what they believe, independently, over the years. Through such Journaling, you may be surprised at how much you have incorporated through what I classify as Programming and Indoctrination.

It is never pointed out that every field of "knowledge," research, Science, specialty, etc., etc., has a Belief System incorporated within it; the more complex the subject/specialty is, the more other Belief Systems, or parts of them, have been incorporated into it.

Since the beginning of life is the period when most Beliefs are simply absorbed into our Unconscious selves uncritically, this is the best place to start.

So, start with Family: the Cultural and Social Groups you were born into, including Nationality; your gender; your birth order; how small or large your family, (a nuclear family, an extended family, a combined family, etc.); its gender makeup. If you know anything about how your arrival was greeted, it should be examined carefully. The Religious Beliefs held by your Parents; whether the same or different. If different, what, if any, conflicts were there about which you should accept, etc.

Explore in what ways, if any, were you "different," in that you did not fit the general norm of the other members of your family; nuclear or extended, and how did that affect your development. In other words, did you or did you not, meet your elders' expectations.

Include whatever you can remember of early awareness', as well as any other general memories you have of growing up within the family structure. Very few adult individuals alive today experienced a childhood which was not dominated by the Belief Systems of a Culture, a Nationality, a Religion, as well as Beliefs about Gender and Social Roles of each. These Beliefs all need to be brought into awareness, as well as whether you have incorporated them within your Belief System.

If you have, in the course of your life, rejected those early Teachings/Beliefs; such rejection has, in all probability, only substituted a non-Belief in its place; a non-Belief is just as strong a Belief, if not a stronger Belief, than the rejected Belief.

The first task is to examine what you have absorbed into your Belief Systems around these major sources of internalized Beliefs, as well as whether or not they currently make up a part of your Personal Belief Systems. It is necessary to be clear about whether or not you accept them as True, Facts of Life, Reality, bases for later learned Beliefs, etc., etc. Further, if you have, in the course of life, after having, perhaps, rejected these large Belief Systems, taken on new replacement Beliefs, it is necessary to examine the Beliefs which underlie the new System.

The Personal Belief System is like a pyramid, in that these early Programmed and Indoctrinated Beliefs form the foundations of the Belief System.

After discovering and examining these internalized Beliefs, it is then necessary to examine the further Indoctrination to which we have been exposed.

Whether we start Public, Private, or other kind of School, we begin to absorb the Beliefs of the wider dominant Social Group; once we have learned the Basics, we then start to be taught and absorb that group's "Consensus Belief Systems."

The Consensus Belief Systems are all that we are expected to learn, and regurgitate, throughout what is called, "getting an Education." The more Education you have been exposed to, the more Consensus Belief Systems you will have incorporated into your own System. As stated previously, all fields of "knowledge" incorporate a Belief System, which may, or may not, incorporate other Systems in whole or in part as the underpinnings of the Science/Specialty/Field of Study. This includes all the Sciences; all the Professions; all the Psychologies, (including Psychiatry), as well as all the other, "ologies" in existence, all other Specialties, etc., etc.

When going on to get Advanced Degrees, one is not allowed to question the Basic Beliefs of any specialty pursued; anyone who attempts to do so will learn this in quick order.

All of these learned Systems of Belief are added onto the growing foundation of the Belief System Pyramid. This is why, as a number of educated individuals have discovered, if they are open enough, when they take in other information which demolishes their Belief in an aspect of the Consensus Belief System, they feel as though their World is being shattered; they are shaken to the core of their being. Others have experienced great anger as to how they have been Programmed to believe the Consensus Belief System, without question.

When examining ones Belief Structure in a Journal, one must included what are considered to be the Absolute Truths of the fields of Science, as well as any Specialized Education absorbed during the Education process.

After examining all of this, one has, hopefully, gained some perspective on what it is one believes. This is major progress in the effort to think clearly. The nature of Beliefs is that they are internalized as TRUTH/Truth/truth, Facts, and Reality, and, thus, not subject to question.

Once you are aware of what you believe, and have gained some understanding of why you believe what you believe, then, perhaps, you will allow yourself to shift all of your Belief System into the status of, instead of absolute TRUTH/Truth/truth, to one of, "as-if-true." That is, you will continue to believe whatever it is, until you have evidence that convinces you to re-evaluate it. If you actively seek out alternative information on any aspect of what is your Belief System, you will be making real progress.

Obviously, discovering what your Belief System is will be a major task. Since our Beliefs shape our reality, as well as determine how clearly we are able to think, however, it is well worth the effort.

Author's Bio: 

My self-educational background has been in learning, and writing about, why people do what they do. My educational background includes the study of established Belief Systems in the field of Psychology, ranging from Freudian theory through Abraham Maslow's work on fully-functioning individuals, as well as Art. My BA is in Human Services, and my Masters is in Art Therapy--MA-AT.

In the 1970's I wrote a manuscript, (unpublished) called: You in the Process of Becoming; A Guide to the Self. In it I outlined a systems approach to understanding human behavioral dis-functioning. My current writing and thinking is an outgrowth of the understanding that, if an individual wishes to be able to think, "critically," i.e., originally, clearly and without contamination from Consensus Belief Systems, it is essential for that individual to thoroughly understand their own underlying Belief System.

This approach can be used in understanding an individual's problems in dealing with everyday situations and problems in relationships. In discovering how one's underlying beliefs shape personal behavior, and examining where those beliefs came from, can do much to change the resultant behavior.

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