We live in a culture that strongly embraces that you should believe whatever you want to believe in and whatever makes you happy. This has seemingly caused a trend now that people do not have set belief system. Which brings to mind the saying…
“If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for everything.”
Do you believe this? And more importantly, do you believe that having no set spiritual beliefs has no effect on your mental well-being?
Let me give you a case study to explain this concept… I will give the person a pseudo name for the sake of privacy…
When I was in graduate school, I chose to be a Community Adviser (aka RA) in a freshman dorm (#sacrifice). I had one sweet female resident, “Sabrina.” Sabrina appeared to be a nice young lady who was excited to start college, from a nice family, was a good student, did not get into trouble, loved her family, not boy crazy… you know… “the girl next door” kind of girl. She was so optimistic and just wanted to fit in. She had never gotten into drinking or intimacy with men.
Two months into her college experience, I saw her weeping in the lounge. I went to see what was wrong and to try to comfort and encourage her. She let me know that she had done things that she never dreamed she would have done and was so ashamed. In just two months she had made choices she never had before and realized that what she was doing in the moment and to fit in were things that she actually was not morally okay with… but she had realized it too late.
Sabrina had these convictions, but never identified them or set them as her beliefs. She didn’t stand for them, so when the heat of the moment came up, she fell to whatever pressure she experienced. Her lack of awareness of her deeply held beliefs caused her anguish, self-hate, disappointment, confusion, and sorrow. Her beliefs existed whether or not she acknowledged them and effected her mental well-being when she acted against them.
Did you catch that… it is not that she did not have a belief system. She DID. Sabrina just didn’t know that she had one and never fleshed it out or thought it through.
Can you relate to this? Perhaps your experience is not your behavior in college, but something else that you did and later realized that you had made a serious mistake… that your choices just didn’t sit right with your conscience?
Our beliefs are central to how we interpret and see the world. They dictate our thoughts and our thoughts are clearly linked to our mental status. Everything we do, say, and think relates back to our core beliefs. Our core could also be referred to our soul; our inner most part of our self… our spiritual self.
Therefore, we all have spiritual beliefs.
When we act in accord with our beliefs we are well with our self. We are living genuine lives and are able to accept our behaviors and choices, as well as, the life outcomes that result. Even if that life outcome is bad, we still have a sense that we “did the right thing” or everything we could do.
It is when we act in a way that contradicts or compromises our core beliefs that we have a hard time accepting our selves and experience cognitive dissonance. This dissonance results in a lack of peace, unrest, guilt, and self-disappointment. Then, when our in-congruent actions cause negative life outcomes, we open up feelings of regret, self-hatred, and depressive thoughts. Even if the outcomes we experience are positive, there is a sense of fraudulence and feeling like we are not the person people think we are.
I don’t know about you… but those feelings and thoughts listed above don’t sound like wellness… Surely our mental health is compromised when we do not live in accordance to our beliefs. And it is really hard to live in accordance to something that you do not know exists.
**Please note… there is a difference between something existing and knowing it exists.**
You have spiritual/core beliefs. They exist. The question is do you know what they are. If your answer is “no”, let’s figure them out! If you answer is “yes”, are you living in accordance to them? Below are some questions to help you figure out what your spiritual beliefs are so you can pursue a life of genuineness.
Questions to KNOW Your Belief System
- What is the purpose of life?
- Is there a God/higher power? If so, what is this being like? How does it impact your life?
- What happens when you die?
- What are humans and their role on earth?
- How should people be treated?
- What is the purpose of pain?
- Why do bad things happen?
- What are things I have a right to do or have?
- What things are most important to me?
- What makes someone important or valuable?
- How do you know someone is successful?
- What do I think about sexuality and intimacy?
- What boundaries do you need to create in your life?
- What should your identity be found in?
- What is worth your effort?
If you think of some other questions or ideas throughout this process, great! And… please comment and share! I encourage you to do some research! READ! I pray that many of you would find truth and peace in this process. I would love to hear your feedback if you have gone through this exercise.
PS… Here is a link to a book that has assisted many in their spiritual journey.