SPIRITUAL TERMINOLOGY AND MEANINGS

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Belief System

What is a belief system?

A belief system is the collection of subjective interrelated beliefs and the thoughts, values, and ideas encompassed by those beliefs, either conscious or unconscious, that govern how a person perceives their reality. Belief systems can be political, religious, cultural, and personal in nature. Belief systems may also be referred to as conditioning or programming. Attitudes and patterns of thought and behavior are the results of belief systems and conditioning.

The most important component of spirituality is utilizing a process of self-reflection to become aware of, analyze, and discard belief systems which are self-sabotaging, built upon fear-based ideologies, or otherwise do not serve the individual. Spirituality itself is, in part, a belief system (the parts which are not based on objective scientific, psychological, or sociological observations and evidence).

Examples of conscious belief systems include:

  • Personal identity: a collection of beliefs held about the self
  • Religious identity: a collection of beliefs held about the divine and/or supernatural
  • Political identity: a collection of beliefs held about how society is governed
  • Some aspects of cultural or tribal identity: a collection of beliefs held about a group with which one consciously affiliates or identifies with

Examples of unconscious belief systems include

  • Subconscious personal identity, otherwise known as the shadow self: a collection of subconscious beliefs held about the self
  • Some aspects of cultural or tribal identity: a collection of subconscious beliefs held about a group with which one consciously affiliates or identifies with
  • Social bias: a collection of subconscious beliefs held about about groups with which one does not consciously affiliate or identify with. Social bias can include cultural bias, racial bias, gender bias, and more. Social bias includes racism and patriarchy.

How are belief systems created?

Belief systems are created through cultural and familial conditioning combined with personal experience. Children are not born with belief systems, they absorb the belief systems of the people around them during their formative years. Childhood trauma experiences, both personal and societal, contribute to the creation of belief systems, as well as social and cultural conditioning.

How are belief systems structured?

Belief systems are often complex, layered, and interconnected, however, the belief systems one gravitates to or consistently maintains throughout their lives are often belief systems that stem from or reinforce personal identity (a collection of beliefs held about the self). When an individual’s personal belief system contains self-sabotaging or fear-based programming, they will often gravitate to political, social, and religious identities that reflect that programming and it is the lens through which they perceive reality.

It is also very common for a person to hold two or more conflicting beliefs. The state of holding inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes is called cognitive dissonance. In these instances, a person will tend to compartmentalize, or suppresses their thoughts and emotions around the situation to avoid discomfort.

Through a process of spiritual self-reflection, one can begin to recognize conflicting beliefs in order to align their belief system and regulate the nervous system to handle uncomfortable emotions in the process, resolving hypocritical beliefs and behaviors.

Science is Not A Belief System

Contrary to what some spiritual teachers may proclaim, science is not a belief system. Science is the observation and study of our objective reality. While there may be some room for small amounts of subjectivity in science, it is the most objective observation process in existence on earth.

Spirituality, which encompasses science, is a way of interpreting that objective reality. This makes spirituality that is rooted in science perhaps the second most objective observation process.

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Question from a reader:

“Hey Ashley! I’ve been reading about manifestation a lot and how our fundamental/subconscious beliefs draw experiences to us. After realizing what we subconsciously believe, what’s the best way to change it? For example, I’m realizing I’ve always believed that God won’t give me the things I want–I’ve entwined “struggle” with God’s will. Is it best to work “top down” with mantras? Or is there another way?”

read more
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read more
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Question from a reader: “I struggle with noticing synchronicities; rather, I struggle with an internal dialog of feeling nuts when I notice synchronicity. Banish fear, sure. But there’s a difference between discernment and neurosis. I guess that’s a good description of the elements at play…”

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I think we have a tendency to just assume that simply because a person has the ability to connect with the other side, they must also have a direct line to get all the answers they’ve ever wanted or needed and therefore, they must surely be highly spiritually evolved people. That’s just not accurate.

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