Believe me

What I say, not what I do...

How are beliefs formed? It is no secret that there is a portion of the population that feels entitled by their beliefs and therefore entitled to make you believe what they so fervently "believe." I am quoting this last word because those so-called beliefs are actually adopted and not well understood most of the time. They are crafted to make noise and cause dissention and division. Usually, these are spearheaded by individuals who have no actual experience or understanding (they actually do not care) and/or those who could not find any other purpose in life than to affiliate to a cause (this is where extremism flourishes).

For this very reason we all need to understand how true beliefs come about:

Beliefs are our brain’s way of making sense of and navigating our complex world. They are mental representations of the ways our brains expect things in our environment to behave, and how things should be related to each other—the patterns our brain expects the world to conform to. Beliefs are templates for efficient learning and are often essential for survival.(X)

Our brains, incredibly efficient and lazy, would rather interpret material to fit what it already believes instead of trying to understand a new perspective. We rather assume than confirm, we rather fill in the blank with what we already know than do more research. We love to jump to conclusions!

Beliefs are part experience and part education (listening to someone else's beliefs). We are born with a set of characteristics that makes us experience the world in a certain way. We then are exposed to facts and educational materials that will either strengthen what we already believe or debunk to some extent our convictions. This last endeavor is so difficult to do since our survival (largely dependent on the most primitive parts of the brain) depends on homeostasis of all systems. Essential functions like breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, energy balance (via appetite) and a variety of endocrine processes are maintained and regulated by lower parts of the brain.

Similarly, our beliefs serve to maintain cognitive homeostasis

So yes, there is something called implicit bias, and this is genetically programmed into our brains, specifically programmed into the most primitive structures so that our survival as a group is assured. Implicit bias is not necessarily a bad thing. We all have implicit biases and that is just simply human. Implicit bias exists along all groups and categories for the very elementary reason that groups and categories exist!

In social identity theory, an implicit bias or implicit stereotype, is the pre-reflective attribution of particular qualities by an individual to a member of some social out group. 

Although difficult to acknowledge in this politically correct society, we all know that jocks will go with jocks, fat people with fat people, pretty girls hang out together and so on. Outward characteristics and similar experiences count. If you grew up in an alcoholic home, your view of individuals who abuse alcohol is likely very different than someone who never experienced alcoholism in their home. It is simply the way our brain interprets and makes things work. It is not necessarily evil.

Higher and less primitive parts of the brain, of which us humans are proud owners, are in charge of reason, logic and adaptation. Yes, we do use this part of the brain often, but not often enough since it is hard to spend so much energy in those more sophisticated activities. So much so that even in the face of contradiction and disproof of our firmly held belief, we will hold on to it stronger than before. That cognitive dissonance is so very uncomfortable for us that we'd rather double down than to change our belief. I think it is easy to understand why beliefs are so hard to change...

Changing our beliefs starts with being open to something new. New information, new experience. It necessitates that fear take a back row. It requires some effort and risk in our part. It is hard to expose ourselves in this way, however. How about approaching someone to better understand and perhaps modify your beliefs? What if someone approached you so that you could understand them better? Are you ready to make the most sophisticated parts of your brain work as they were intended to do? Are you ready to not blindly believe what the media and people in power want you to believe? Don't waste gray matter, Z Form is here to help.

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