Definition Of Belief

Understanding The Structure & Types Of Beliefs


Definition Of Belief - 
Understanding The Structure & Types Of Beliefs. Image of a woman praying in church.


A definition of belief is that it is something that we accept and believe to be true, but that is not necessarily something that can be proven to be true.

The whole realm of spirituality  is fraught with conflict over endless circular arguments about beliefs and truth.

As Pontius Pilate was alleged to have said: "What is truth?".

Correct beliefs and polarised positions

In the field of religious beliefs there has been much argument, conflict and suffering over "correct" beliefs, or orthodoxy throughout history.

Correct beliefs and core doctrines are reinforced with public declarations of belief in credes and propositional statements of faith such as the Nicean crede.

This is not limited to religion but applies to political beliefs and societal beliefs such as those about gender and sexuality, "woke" beliefs about social equality, beliefs to do with political correctness and so on.

Then there is the tribalism of political beliefs such as Democrats vs. Republicans in the US and Conservatives v. Labour in the UK, and the tribalism of pressure groups such as the American NRA with their staunch defence of Americans' inalienable rights to bear arms.







Conflict Over Definition Of Belief And The Suffering Inflicted On Those Who Do Not Agree

Countless millions have been killed over the past century, and genocides have been committed, in the name of various political beliefs: the Stalinist and Maoist purges, the killing fields of Cambodia, Armenia, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and in the southern States of the USA the appalling legacy of the lynchings by the Klu Klux Klan .

In previous centuries there has been the religious persecution by state supported majorities over non believing minorities such the persecution of the Cathars by the Catholic church and the burning of Catholics by Protestants and vice versa.

The list is endless, and in all cases:

Believing themselves to be right, clinging to their beliefs, to the point of killing to defend their view of the rightness of their position.





Definition Of Belief - A Model For Understanding The Structure And Types Of Beliefs

Let's start by asking: What is a belief, and what is the structure of a belief?

A useful model suggests that every belief has the same basic three-part structure and that can be stated as this:

Cause –> Effect –> Meaning

So, if THIS causes ...

Then, the effect is...

And THAT means...

So to take a simple example: I am feeling miserable and unhappy [cause] I have a few beers [effect] and it makes me happy [meaning].







The Power of Beliefs

Here's where it gets interesting...

Any definition of belief has to take account of the enormous power  that beliefs carry. At the personal level this matters because of:

# The energy they invoke

We are energetic beings living in an energetic universe and our words, the words that define and express our beliefs, have power.


# The results they create in our life experience

In The Power of Framing we talked about the causal link between inner states and external events:

”We are energetic beings. The inner associations that we make and the meanings that we ascribe to those associations are all energy based.

By changing the words we use to reframe an experience we change the underlying energetic state.

This change in energetic state changes the results that we create.”



    Beliefs are the shortcut keys to our energetic states

    By reframing our beliefs we change our energetic states and thus we change the results they create in our life experiences.









Definition Of Belief By Types

[1] Conditioned belief

Conditioned beliefs are the thinking patterns developed at a young age. They become the foundation for your future beliefs and thus form the basis of decision-making and problem-solving. These conditioned beliefs, are largely unconscious.

The only way you identify them is by guaging your resistance to an idea or an action.

[2] Empowering belief

An empowering belief explores and releases potential, and has the positive energy of possibility with sufficient references of success.

[3] Self-limiting belief

A self limiting belief controls and restricts your potential. In addition to childhood conditioning. self limiting beliefs can be the result of various forms of social proof and group belief.







A Balanced Definition Of Belief

To conclude, I want to suggest a framing that helps us avoid the tyranny of certainty and rigidity whilst retaining the resourcefulness of flexibility.

This view is based on a recognition and acceptance of impermanence as a basic condition of the nature of all things, and thus to handle beliefs as a necessary means to fulfill a purpose and/or reach an objective.

This is to adopt a utilitarian approach that sees:




    A belief is there to serve a purpose and to be released when that purpose is served.

    A belief is a guidance rather than an immutable certainty.









Further Reading:  Belief - A Terrible Tyrant Or An Empowering Servant


Return to: What Is Spirituality?





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