Our Thoughts and Beliefs – Are They True?

I was cleaning my kitchen – a task that brings about as much happiness as being at the dentist. My head was throbbing from being in a hypoglycemic state because I hadn’t eaten anything in several hours.

Low blood sugar is so not cool.

Ignoring the obvious signs that my body had needs and instead, obeying the logic I had grown up with which stated that work comes first, I figured I would wait until I was finished doing my “chores” before finally replenishing my glucose levels.

That was when a thought appeared –

“How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?”

Have to appreciate a Pink Floyd classic to bring me out of my trance and inspire a post.

Conditioning…

Yep, that’s what it was.

And since I am no longer interested in being conditioned, now that I am aware of it anyway, I promptly made a sandwich because unless it’s driven by a blissful sense of enthusiasm – work no longer takes precedence over my well-being.

What does it mean to be conditioned?

According to Dictionary.com, the term “conditioned” (adj) means:

  1. Existing under or subject to conditions.
  2. Characterized by a predictable or consistent pattern of behavior or thought as a result of having been subjected to certain circumstances or conditions.
  3. Psychology . Proceeding from or dependent on a conditioning of the individual; learned; acquired: conditioned behavior patterns. 
  4. Made suitable for a given purpose.

Now, in my opinion, I am going to say that all four definitions harmonize with one another and mean one thing…

More often than not, our behavior stems from a pattern of thoughts that have been embedded into our subconscious mind and run on autopilot. Therefore, we don’t always think as much as we are being thought.

If you’ve followed any of my work, you’ll know that I tend to harp a bit on the fact that from the moment we were born, our belief systems have been handed to us by our surroundings.

Whether the messages were good, bad or indifferent isn’t the issue because other people’s thoughts have been handed to them as well – as the generations and the stories they tell go back-a-ways…

Our Thoughts and Beliefs – Are They True?

Have you ever tried to stop the chatter that runs continuously in the back of your mind? Probably not – but if you’ve given it a fair shot, then it’s safe to say that it was tough – if not seemingly impossible.

Even thinking about not thinking is thinking.

So if you’ve attempted this and haven’t been terribly successful, don’t worry. Just take some time to practice.

And understand one thing…

I am NOT suggesting that you give up thinking – but to question the thoughts that run your life and make your decisions FOR YOU.

To learn to the difference between default and deliberate thought. To practice critical thinking and discernment as opposed to reacting to unquestioned ‘knowledge’.

Thinking is a useful tool when done intentionally and in the presence of truth. Programmed thoughts (aka – thoughts thinking you) aren’t necessarily based in truth – and this is where the work needs to be done.

The Conditioning Began When We Were VERY Young

From the time we were born until approximately around age six or so, our thoughts, beliefs, and opinions were formed by our surroundings. We weren’t able to construct a conscious thought at that age, so we absorbed what we were around and what we were taught.

By the time we were able to have conscious thoughts, the foundation beneath them had already been set.

Therefore, rather than allow ourselves to be fed information from a place of true emotional Intelligence, we continued to build our interpretation of ourselves and the world based on what was already in place.

This was the case for me, and it’s most likely the case for you as well.

I’d never bothered to question whether my beliefs or interpretations of things were true or not. I just accepted the so-called “truths” I had been taught – even though I was in a constant state of inner turmoil because of this thing called cognitive dissonance (when two conflicting ideas coincide in your mind).

It’s an uncomfortable way to exist, but this is the way it was growing up.

And since the option to question our thoughts wasn’t a popular topic (unlike Melrose Place) I accepted and became what I believed.

I’m thankful I’ve snapped out of that. These days, I prefer to remain in a state of neutrality. It’s the only way to observe life, but it took some time (and a lot of pain) for me to gain this understanding and start living this way.

I AM the witness to my life and all life. Without strong beliefs, I am free to observe “what is” without any preconceived notions tainting my perspective.

This is where the truth lies.

The Mind Unquestioned

A useful strategy to enable awareness is to make the conscious decision to question our thoughts. When we do this, it allows us to examine how we perceive our reality – and whether or not it’s based in truth.

  • Do we believe the thought?
  • Where did it come from?
  • Does it make sense?
  • Does this empower or disempower us?
  • Do we even know who we are underneath our conditioning?

What would happen if we suddenly decided to detach from everything we were ever taught and instead, made the decision to re-examine things to see if it’s possible that we’ve been misled somewhere along the way – and that these misconceptions are ultimately controlling our lives?

Using my own example, I ignored my body when it gave me clear and obvious signs of hunger due to conditioning. Somewhere along the lines I “downloaded” and believed the concept that chores/work came before anything else – and this included basic survival needs.

The funny thing is, I don’t even remember where the idea originated from. I picked it up from somewhere. It took over 40 years of my life to realize it wasn’t true.

This made me wonder what else may be a fabrication of the truth.

Since then, it’s become clear that a lot of what I had carried around within me was fiction.

I know better now.

To release preconceived notions about life is tough. You sit there and wonder…

“If I was wrong about so many things, then what IS true?”

And here’s the kicker –

You may not get the answer right away.

I sure didn’t.

To sit and know that you no longer believe your beliefs, but don’t know what to replace them with is unsettling, disturbing and just weird.

But then I realized something.

If I had no answers, then I was free to continue to ask questions – a lot of them.

These questions didn’t lead to answers, but more questions. Better, more expansive ones.

I’ve been asking them ever since.

And because I no longer feel married to my prior belief systems, I get to date new concepts and ideas frequently.

I have a non-exclusive relationship with information.

And I like it this way.

Do it long enough and you’ll understand the true meaning of “keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.” ~ Casey Kasem

But to free your mind – to break the chains that bind you – this process is necessary.

It’s a way to die while you’re still alive.

Let that sink in.

Try This Out

Perhaps the next time you have a free moment, make the decision to quiet your mind and see what thoughts and beliefs may be running your life. Even if you’re only able to do it for a few seconds at a time.

In his book The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle suggests asking yourself the question “I wonder what my next thought will be” as a means to becoming present. The intention itself will serve as a good starting place to begin to practice choosing awareness.

And, of course, the inspiration behind this post –

So What’s Next?

I’m not suggesting you believe anything I’ve said here. I don’t promote belief systems.

But perhaps, just allow the words to settle in for a bit and see if they have merit.

We’ve all been the recipients of information.

Some of it’s been authentic and contains gems of wisdom.

But quite a bit of what we’ve been taught over time is complete bullshit.

The wise one observes. Be an observer. That’s all I’m suggesting.

Do you question your thoughts? Do you wonder if what you’ve been taught is based on what’s true – what’s real…rather than what’s been handed down over time?

Want more bullshit-free wisdom? Check out my latest book “Streetwise Philosophy (A Bullshit-Free Approach to Spiritual Maturity).”

Grab your copy at any of these online retailers.

Amazon Kindle

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Dana Gore

Author of the books "A Simple Guide to Exercise Safety (What You Don't Know CAN Hurt You)" and "Streetwise Philosophy (A Bullshit-Free Approach to Spiritual Maturity)", Dana Gore is a health and fitness professional, wellness coach, and freelance writer. Dana brings guidance to the public about how to achieve optimal health in a safe and structured manner while inspiring her readers to seek self-awareness and inner peace as a means to well-being in all areas of life.

25 thoughts on “Our Thoughts and Beliefs – Are They True?

  • at 10:10 pm
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    Well, that’s a lot of work! lol

    Truthfully, I tend to believe in about 90% of my thoughts. That’s because I’m always exploring things about myself and keep getting confirmation on those beliefs so I’m fairly confident in them.

    The other 10% is usually things I’ve heard or been told and I never had a reason to challenge because it wasn’t integral to my life… until it was. In those instances I’ve been amazed by either finding out I was right or oh so incredibly wrong that either one makes me laugh. In my opinion that’s a good thing because it means I carry few or no negative connotations against others that might make me question my morality or integrity; those are always “whew” moments. 🙂

    Reply
    • at 12:28 pm
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      Hey Mitch,

      Yeah. It seems like a lot of work, but in the end, it’s worth it to question things. I think life presents us opportunities to either prove we’re right about something, or see if there’s another perspective.

      For me, I found there was usually at least another side, if not several additional angles. We’re a society filled with people who believe everything they think without question. I was one of them. But until I realized how wrong, or at least limited I was regarding my views on things, my mind was closed.

      Interesting topic, though. I appreciate your insights 🙂

      Reply
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  • at 7:19 pm
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    Dana,
    Loved this. You really had me thinking. It pulled things out that i never thought of and having two thoughts collide is where my brain is most of the time. I will need to definitely bookmark this and come back.

    Reply
    • at 6:23 pm
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      Hi Sandy,

      I’m glad you liked the post.
      Having two thoughts collide isn’t fun. It’s called “cognitive dissonance.” It keeps people from allowing new information in because it contradicts beliefs. Once I learned about it, a world of insight opened up for me.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and chiming in. Enjoy the rest of your week 🙂

      Reply
  • at 1:59 pm
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    Hi Dee; After your wonderful review of my new book, I had to find out more about you. That lead me to your website and this excellent post. Often the reasons we are stuck and not making the progress we want to is because of preconceived ideas of what truth is. One of the big ones I had to get past was growing up in a time when parents showed love by how they fed you. I grew up with big boys don’t cry, drink your milk, and no dessert until you have cleaned your plate. I hope your readers take your suggestions and think about all these ideas we have grown up with and whether or not they are true. Thanks for sharing, Max

    Reply
    • at 9:32 pm
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      Hey Max,

      Great to see you here 🙂

      The examples you shared are common myths we grow up with – and I’m glad you brought them up.
      You start to get how this works and then you see how so many of these sayings and ideologies have played such an influential role in our lives.

      I feel it’s important to question things. Everything – from the small to the large aspects of conditioning and information gathering. This includes our thoughts and beliefs – not an easy thing to do.

      I appreciate your visit and comment Max. Enjoy your week.

      Reply
  • at 7:42 am
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    Hi Dana,

    I agree with Bren – who isn’t going to love a post with a reference to Pink Floyd!

    I kind of had the same experience as Donna. I grew up with my parents on my about my room being cleaned and I passed it down to my kids.

    At first, I thought I was just instilling in them to be clean and organized but when then I would fly off the handle if they didn’t.

    My therapist asked me to write down five things I want in life for my kids – and I clean room wasn’t on that list. That was a real eye opener. I still am a clean freak but I don’t make a big deal about it now – especially now that they’re adults – I leave that to them.

    Another great post D! You know I’m sharing this one! 🙂

    Cori

    Reply
    • at 4:14 pm
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      Hey Cori,

      I love the exercise your therapist had you do.
      There have been many times I’ve had to stop and ask myself questions about what was truly important to me.

      It’s so easy to mimic the rules and behavior standards we’re taught when we’re growing up.

      Depending on the delivery, the same principle can either be a good idea because of proven benefits or disadvantages and the opportunity to think critically – or can become a pattern stemming from a mind that follows everything obediently and questions nothing.

      I appreciate the shares and the visit gf. Glad you liked the reference. That song (the lyrics) really did inspire this post.
      Enjoy the rest of the week 🙂

      Reply
  • at 3:27 pm
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    Hi Dana. How can you not love a post that includes references to both Pink Floyd and to Eckart Tolle. The ham story that you shared in your reply to Donna’s comment is the prefect example of how we get conditioned when we are young. We do what we have always done and never question why.

    Like you, I find it better to question everything – science, religion (sorry Stella), culture, everything. Some of our conditioning is like preparing the ham, there were certain limitations back then. They no longer exist. Our ovens are huge now, so leave the ham whole. Other conditioning is for control. Our parents conditioned us to be home before dark. We’re adults now, so we can stay out an hour past dark ;-). A lot of the things in religion and politics (law) are about control.

    I try to question everything, throw out what doesn’t make sense, keep what does, then fill in the gaps with what feels right at the moment. I keep it all in pencil because I reserve the right to change today’s rules tomorrow.

    Excellent post Dana. Thank you.

    Reply
    • at 6:10 pm
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      Hi Ben,

      Haha – I’m glad you liked the inclusion of both Pink Floyd and Mr. Tolle.

      The truth is, once I became conscious of my own conditioning, things started to finally make sense. I questioned things when I was younger, but only to myself. Then I just accepted whatever I learned because I didn’t feel I had anyone to ask since everyone around me seemed to believe most of the same things.

      It’s funny – when we learn things in our youth – like rules, etc, it’s meant to provide structure and discipline. It doesn’t really work the way it’s supposed to though because without a high level of consciousness, you go through the motions and repress who you really are (if you even get to know that in yourself).

      Then you spend your life fighting with yourself and others. Most people don’t even know they’re doing this.

      When an evolved being is free to live as they choose, they are naturally structured and disciplined. People don’t realize we’re doing all of this ass backward.

      The issue with society isn’t a lack of rules, it’s lack of Care – with a capital c. Consciousness, or lack thereof, is responsible for everything that happens.

      The politics, religion – all of it are all fictitious aspects of order and Faith.
      I feel that when truly evolving becomes the dominant way of life, freedom and structure will coincide beautifully and naturally.

      It’s great that you question things and fill in the gaps as you see fit. That’s what I do. It hasn’t failed me yet.

      Thanks so much for your comment and visit Ben 🙂

      Reply
  • at 12:29 pm
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    I sure do hear a ton of little voices inside my head telling me what to do. (I’m not crazy…at least, I haven’t been diagnosted as such, yet) Worst thing is that I even feel bad if I don’t obey to those voices…

    But I’ve tried taking a step back and observe the fight that goes on between them (the voices inside my head) like I was looking at it as if it was a motion picture. It’s like they’re fighting for my attention and trying to condition me. The more importance you give them, the more energy they get and the more louder they become.

    On the other hand, if you try to forget about them, they’ll slowly fade away.

    Great post, Dana!

    Best,
    Louie

    Reply
    • at 5:57 pm
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      Hi Louie,

      Welcome to my blog 🙂

      Those voices in your head are your thoughts and beliefs. We all have these running on autopilot in our subconscious mind. If you’ve been practicing paying attention to them so you can hear them and observe them – as if watching a film (just like you said), it’ll be beneficial for you in the long run.

      I do this. I’ve caught myself in the act of thinking many times over the last few years. It’s helped me to understand how this whole thing works.

      I don’t feel that forgetting them makes them go away, though. I feel they only get louder. The idea is to be aware without ruminating. That’s the key to higher awareness. At least, this has been my experience.

      Glad you found your way here and I genuinely appreciate your comment. Thanks so much for stopping by.

      Reply
      • at 11:11 am
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        Thank you Dana! 🙂 Your comment really helps me better understand all these inner voices. 🙂 Some of them are intrusive thoughts, though. Those are the ones I try to forget.

        Reply
        • at 4:16 pm
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          You’ll never forget them. That’s my experience anyway.
          What works for me is to observe them and question them. Once they’re out in the open, they can be pulled apart and debunked using new ideas, awareness and wisdom 🙂

          Glad you stopped by. Great to meet you Louie.

          Reply
  • at 4:14 am
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    Hi, Dana

    There were rules for us to follow when we were young. You may call is conditioning. Some of them are not useful as we grow older but some of them are so truth that they became the standard of life – for example after we promise something to someone, we must carry out no matter whether the circumstances have changed. This is called ethic.

    For the question: your thought and belief are true or not?, In my opinion, the answer is not except one. Because they are not absolute, they change as your prospective change. One exception is the belief in God which is absolute foundation of creation of universe. It does not change because of our perception, feeling, and situation

    Love your article. Dana

    Reply
    • at 5:50 pm
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      Hi Stella,

      I can see the value in some of what we’re taught when we’re young. The cool thing after learning to question my thoughts and beliefs was that I was able to discern what my real values were and what was a result of conditioning.

      I do happen to feel a sense of connection to God, Source, the Creator or whatever one calls this. Not because of anything I was ever taught, but just because of my own experiences. I think it’s best that people come to their own discoveries. As you so eloquently mentioned, as circumstances change, so does our perspective. At least that’s what I got from what you said.

      Glad you liked the post. I appreciate your visit Stella.

      Reply
  • at 11:41 am
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    Hi Dana,

    Oh that work ethic “inner voice” can drive us mad! I did have to re-learn what was important to me. I used to be so concerned to keep the house clean as a whistle. But one day my therapist asked me “If I came to your house and asked you where is he mustard what would you say?” Easy peasy right….open the door on the third side shelf there is the condiments. It is behind the relish.

    Then it hit me…I was wasting so much time with what my mother was interested in. WoW…Wake up call. Now I can live with dog hair on the couch, even though my mom comes and points it out. I laugh and tell her she can clean it if she wants.

    Now, what I love to do comes first…my work. I do take time off and have no guilt. There were so many things I was conditioned to do and be…it took a while to acknowledge them and turn them around.

    -Donna

    Reply
    • at 2:41 pm
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      Hi Donna,

      Your story about your Mom reminds me of one I’ve heard about cutting the ends off of a ham before putting it in the oven.

      The short of it is (and I almost referenced it in the post) is that a woman was asked why she cut the ends off. She said it was because it was what her Mom did. She asked her Mom and was told it was what her Mom did. Then Grandma was asked and she said that in her day, ovens were smaller and the ham wouldn’t fit, so she cut off the ends.

      Basically, we do what we do because we learn from others. But even these well-meaning others have been conditioned. It goes back a long time. Longer than any of us can imagine.

      So it’s cool that you caught on to things and decided to follow your own inner guidance.

      Thanks for sharing your story. Great example. 🙂

      Reply
  • at 9:03 pm
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    THe information you shared is fabulous and your writing is better and better. You hit right on , how should I say , The side of HUMANITY, LIFE , FREEDOM , and I love reading and knowing this side of you . You have so much to share with all of us who are in search of bettering and truly knowing ourselves through our many different aspects … Aside from that I just love the way you write… You are so smart. BTW. I would have eaten that sandwich ,,, I suppose you know that”

    Reply
    • at 2:33 pm
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      Haha – who doesn’t appreciate a sandwich?

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post and “knowing this side of me.” At this point, it’s how I operate. Probably why I don’t do so well in crowds. The small talk isn’t my thing. I prefer to have these discussions – which aren’t popular 😉

      I think we’ve reached a time where genuine self-awareness is more necessary than anything else. Until this becomes first priority, we’ll continue to chase solutions for problems we don’t understand in their entirety.

      Thank-you so much for your comment and your kind words.

      Reply
  • at 5:36 pm
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    Hey Dana,

    Happy Sunday! I hope you’re having a nice weekend! This is a great post. As children we are taught our parents beliefs, and although I respected my parents, I still questioned their beliefs. I was raised in a racist family. However, my best friend in grade school was a black girl. Mom was livid when we picked up Gwen to go skating but I didn’t care. I have been and still am friends with people of many colors and races.

    However, some things did stick with me and I believe til this day. Mom said “Stand by your man.” “Marry only once.” I believe in the stand by your man thing, and have even though it has been very rough at times.

    I believe there are two kinds of people. Those who will stand by everything they were taught as a child and not deviate. And those who remember what they were taught but have made up their own minds about it. Make sense?

    This is a great post, Dana. It made me sit and reflect back to my childhood and many of the things I was taught that were “their” beliefs and how I’ve formed my own.

    B

    Reply
    • at 12:46 pm
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      Beautifully said, Dana, in fact, one of my favorite sayings is ‘You shouldn’t believe everything you think.” I have questioned everything for as long as my little brain could function on its own. it was my early fascination with why people do the things they do that led me to the topic of resilience. That said, I am aware that I am an aberration and the truth of it is harboring a near obsession for understanding the “why” of things is not always appreciated by others, especially in the “corporate” world. Thanks for the inspiration!

      Reply
      • at 2:19 pm
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        Hi Marquita,

        I don’t think questioning things, especially our own thoughts and beliefs is a popular thing to do – although it seems to have picked up some momentum over the last few years or so.

        I think that as things become louder in the world – as the effects become more painful…we’ll have to seek out the cause. The only way to do this is to stand back and ask these questions.
        Why? How? And the real kicker – what part do I play in all of this?

        That last one is the toughest.

        You speak of resilience – and that’s exactly what it takes to be ok after investigating what lives within us. The idea that “ok, maybe I’ve had it wrong, or at least very limited. I did what I knew how to do with the knowledge and awareness that I had, now it’s time to keep an open mind and take responsibility for what’s mine.”

        I think the corporate world is still lagging behind. That’s probably why things are so chaotic in that specific structure.

        I appreciate your contribution Marquita. Thanks so much 🙂

        Reply
    • at 2:29 pm
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      Hey Bren,

      Well, happy small Friday 🙂

      I think it’s great that you followed your own inner-guidance growing up in a family that had their own ideas. Not so easy to do. Not as a kid, and often not even as an adult.

      Yes, I get what you’re saying. There are those who follow what they’ve been taught without question and those who don’t. Some people rebel, but even in rebellion – depending on the level of awareness dictating that response is what renders it either an emotional reaction to something, or simply having an independent mind as one observes.

      I’m glad the post created an interest in self-awareness and encouraged you to think. That’s the idea.
      Enjoy the rest of the week Bren.

      Reply

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