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Our beliefs can help us navigate the world around us. However, when our beliefs do not line up with reality, they can cause harm to ourselves and others.
Also, these beliefs can become so deeply ingrained that they become very challenging to unlearn, even when presented with new information. This phenomenon is called belief perseverance.
Our beliefs about ourselves, others, and how the world works come from many places. In part, formal instruction and education inform our belief systems.
The ideas we hold about ourselves and others also come from our experiences interacting with the world and secondary sources like the media. Belief perseverance happens when a person holds onto a belief even when presented with evidence that this belief is false.
If we cling to false beliefs, we risk causing harm to ourselves and those around us. Some of the adverse effects:
The only way to somehow manage belief perseverance is to become aware of it.
The next step is to increase your self-awareness about your beliefs and where they come from. If you want to increase your self-awareness and challenge your beliefs about yourself and others, ask yourself these five questions:
Our minds are prone to cognitive biases that may discord the way we consider these questions. Our need for coherence, combined with cognitive biases, make it very difficult to unlearn our false beliefs. Trusted friends or colleagues can help jog your memory to moderate the availability bias, the confirmation bias, and stay clear of illusory correlations.
Awareness and self-reflection are the best ways to address this phenomenon. Questioning our false beliefs can help us all grow and better achieve our goals.
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