Yes, It IS Really Hard Changing Unhelpful Beliefs

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It’s a tall order giving up on beliefs. Even if they’re hurting you and making you miserable, you have those beliefs for a reason. They give you a sense of certainty, a sense of direction.

And I suppose it doesn’t help that there’s no easy guide for changing beliefs that aren’t helping you — even if you want to. Because everyone’s beliefs are ingrained slightly differently, the process for countering them is different. So there’s no quick and easy guide that works for everyone.

Instead, it’s a custom process: Figuring out what you believe and why. Drawing out the implied arguments for those beliefs and thereby making them defend themselves. Examining the self-justification for those beliefs. And then — and only then — can you figure out what the counter arguments are for these beliefs. Not just the natural rhetorical partner for these arguments, but compelling counter arguments that best the original — and this is very important — that you believe.

It takes a lot to get to this point. It’s true. But even then, it’s not over. Even when you have a good idea of how to counter those beliefs, you actually have to do it. And it’s not one and done. Typically, it takes time and repetition and practice to change your beliefs.

Given all this, is it any wonder that people have a tendency to double down on their beliefs and cling to them? Yes, even when those beliefs are hurting them or people around them.

No, it’s not. It’s amazing that anyone ever changes their beliefs given this tall order.

I say this not to depress you. Because here’s the reality: Yes, it’s difficult to change unhelpful beliefs. But it’s not impossible, not by a long shot.

And I’ve found from my own personal experience that all the energy I’ve spent working on it was more than worth it. The best work I’ve ever done, really. I’m so much happier than I used to be.

Does that mean I’m done doing such a thing? No. I’ve found that working on certain beliefs helped me to see other ones that weren’t serving me. As I’m writing this post, I have a few that I’m working very hard on. And they’re heavy (I wrote about one in a recent post — “I learned somewhere along the way that love is something you earn by being useful to other people — doing things for them, making them look good, pleasing them somehow.”)

Anyway, I’m sharing this mostly to let you know that if you’re working on changing beliefs that aren’t serving you that yes, it is hard. It’s not like it’s easy and you’re just terrible at it (something I worried about a lot back in the day, that it was easy for everyone else and I was defective somehow).

And you’re in good company as you work on it.

Featured Image: CC BY – Valeria P.