Our beliefs are essential to who we are. They are not everything that compose our identity, but they are certainly a big part of it. Whether you believe in a god or lack-there-of, that aliens exist or don’t, that a political leader is just or not, or simply even, right vs. wrong, good vs. bad, true vs. false, it’s not the belief that counts, but how we came to it.
Do we believe in something because it’s cool to, or because we agree with it?
Do we believe in something because someone told us to, or because we feel that way about it?
We must always ask ourselves, what are the factors that drive our beliefs? And more so, are our intentions misplaced? Perhaps they are based on the outcome rather than the reason, based on the impression we would like to make rather than what actually holds true to us.
In any case, it is of upmost cruciality that we not only question our beliefs, but understand where they come from. We can’t simply believe in something because it’s trendy or cool to do so, but rather because it is representative of our values or what we stand for. And we can’t simply hold our beliefs carelessly, without understanding their intricate structure and thinking about what they actually entail.
From holding a belief because it’s trendy to do so, to not having listened to opposing ones, here are 6 indications that your beliefs are inauthentic.
You believe in it because it’s trendy
Whether it’s Pro-Palestine or Pro-abortion, most people will agree that these stances are grounded in morality and basic human rights. However, this is not the point here. We are not here to argue about whether or not the belief is justified, this is relevant in a different context, we are arguing about how you’ve come to justify these beliefs. Do you believe in the rights of women to abort because everyone is saying that it is, or have you justified your belief based on your own grounds? Believing in something for the simple fact that it’s trendy, completely takes away from its authenticity.
You listen to the content of the argument not its structure
Often when we are very attached to an idea or a stance, we are so quick to judge other opposing stances, irrespective of whether or not they make any sense. You may hear the word “black,” and automatically think the person you’re conversing with is racist. You may hear the word “Israel”, and accuse the person of being a Zionist. The point here is, it is not about what our beliefs constitute of, but how we go about making them. If you attack someone simply for holding a certain belief, and shift your focus from the reasons behind it towards what it is, then you are no longer actively listening, and thereby your beliefs are empty of reason. We must listen to the structure of the argument, the means by which it is developed, to really decide whether or not its valid. However, its end result does not automatically exempt the means by which it has been reached.
Your beliefs are ego/fear based
“I can’t say I’m not a feminist because other women will attack me,” or, “I have to say I’m a feminist because I want to appear strong and “open-minded.” There is nothing open-minded about limiting your beliefs to the certain appearance you would like to depict. Believing in something out of fear that people will attack you for not holding it, or believing in something to boost your ego, based on the fact that people will like you for it, dismantles the sincerity of your beliefs, and makes it about others rather than your relationship with these ideas. This is not to say be a feminist or don’t be a feminist, or any stance for that matter, but to ground your beliefs in your values rather than the opinions of others about you.
You haven’t taken the time to understand them
Before believing in anything, whatever it is, we must do proper research, ask around, and familiarize ourselves with everything that surrounds this belief. However, a superficial understanding of it, not only takes away from its credibility or our responsibility towards it, but it takes away from its sincerity. In order to value our beliefs, to entitle ourselves to them, we must really understand what they mean to us, and in order for that meaning to hold true, this understanding has to be cautiously, deeply, and credibly developed.
You haven’t listened to contradicting ideas
It’s very easy to agree with someone who holds the same beliefs as us, but it’s not easy to be challenged by the ones who don’t. Yet what value does your belief really hold if you haven’t taken the time to place it in opposing contexts? After all, if your belief is not questioned and challenged, then it does not stand strong on its own.
You’re doing it because someone else believes in it
This is a fallacy known as argument from authority, meaning appealing to a person of authority as evidence to your claims. Whether its a president or any public figure holding a certain stance, it does not mean its true, and it definitely doesn’t mean you should blindly listen to it. Again, in order for your beliefs to be genuine, they have to be developed by you, because after all, they are yours.
A belief is powerful, it renders a certain level of importance in society. Beliefs have an effect on others, whether for the better, or for the worse. However, within these influences, we must understand how we identify with our beliefs, such that we can make an active, genuine choice about what influences us and what doesn’t. But to use our side-intentions to make a certain impression, and more so, hide them beneath a facade of this impression, may make us feel better for a while, but it completely belittles the integrity of our beliefs.