What is belief? Why is it so important to believe? What happens when we lose belief? Have you ever asked yourself these questions? I don’t mean it in the religious context alone, although that notion isn’t completely excluded in my queries.
I’m asking myself right now because I think it’s time to take an introspective look at what my beliefs are and how they’re changing. At least I think they’re changing. Maybe it’s something that happens with age, I don’t know. But I’m writing this essay to help me think a little more lucidly about them.
First, let’s define what belief is. Having a common definition that we can use as reference will lay better grounds for a more productive conversation. So in the spirit of productivity, as well as clarity, I’ve taken the liberty to do what any other Millennial would do if they wanted to find the answer to something — I Googled it. And, the omniscient search engine tells me this:
Belief is an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists; something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion or conviction. Belief can also be defined as trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.
For me, belief is something that’s so fundamental to what makes me uniquely me, and what makes you uniquely you. Out of all the sets of truths we believe in, it is extremely difficult to find someone else who shares the same sets of truths that I hold to be true, and the same sets of truths that I hold may not be truths to others. And so our beliefs help build our identity. It would be an extremely discomforting experience to find out that everyone else held the same beliefs that I held, not to mention how banal just the very idea of existence in a homogenous world would become. Everyone’s differences in their own truths about the world, formed either by differences in our nature or nurture, makes the world an overall interesting place to live.
If you and I can agree on what I wrote in the above paragraph, then we can agree on the simple notion that our beliefs contribute to our unique identities. This is why when others see our own beliefs change too quickly or disappear all of a sudden, it evokes negative emotions that are hard to reverse through mere discussions alone. People around us will feel confusion and distrust. Alterations to our belief is equivalent to changes in our identity, and we become a wholly different person through them. We become a person that our environment around us will have to familiarize with all over again. If I went through a drastic change in my beliefs, I wouldn’t be surprised if those that have known me for a long time don’t look at me the same. This is obvious. Substantial changes in our beliefs can and will catch those around us off-guard.
Obviously, we can’t not make substantial changes to our beliefs just because we don’t want to create a novel identity for others to have to re-experience with familiar eyes. I think that if the change is in line with all your remaining beliefs that you have decided to continue to accept, it’s worth a couple months of external confusion. I’m mentioning a lot about societal perception of our self, not because I want their perceptions to be the sole shaper of your beliefs, but because it’s important to simply be aware of the ramifications of changes in convictions.
Like everyone else, my beliefs are dynamic. Some of what I believe is more prone to change than others, but one truth remains: all of them are in constant flux.