Whether we realize it or not, we all move through this life with a certain set of beliefs about ourselves, others and the world as a whole. Common synonyms for the word belief within the psychotherapy world are; assumptions, values, core values, core beliefs and schemas. Regardless of a practitioner’s approach or choice of language, one thing is clear; We all operate in a manner that is either in sync, or out of sync with our basic beliefs. Problems arise when we either become too rigid in our belief structure or we begin to think or behave in ways that threaten or contradict our pre-existing belief structure. For example; Picture the man or woman who believes that it is important to be happy in a partnership or marriage, yet finds themselves miserable, anxious, angry, depressed or even in physical danger because the relationship is not a happy one. Despite the belief that one should be happy in a relationship, the opposite is occurring and the results are not very beneficial. Or how about the belief that maintaining one’s health is crucial, yet over-eating, lack of exercise and other poor health choices tends to dominate one’s lifestyle. What usually happens? We feel guilty, depressed and/or anxious. We even get down on ourselves and beat ourselves up for not realizing the beliefs we have for ourselves.
The danger with beliefs arise when we view beliefs as an absolute truth. In reality, there are no absolute truths, only perceptions of what is true to YOU! Furthermore, the rigidity that develops with our should haves, could haves, have to mentalities reinforce the false perception that we are not good enough unless everything can be realized and improved right now.
So how do we realign with our values/beliefs/assumptions? Begin by identifying your basic beliefs, values or assumptions about life. Then ask yourself, “Am I moving towards or away from what I believe?” If the answer is towards, fantastic. If the answer is away, that is not necessarily a negative thing, but ask yourself, what is getting in the way? Living a life congruent to your basic assumptions about life is a journey, not a goal. Goals have a sense of finality about them, but living a life true to your beliefs, values and assumptions is an ongoing, ever-changing process that requires self-compassion, patience and an absence of intense urgency.