Belief System (glossary entry)
(This article is incomplete)
The Mind's Belief Filters
The "reticular activating system", part of the brain, automates beliefs. It is responsible for the common experience of "selective memory" : only remembering the things that agree with what you believe (or perhaps, what you "want" to believe).
More generally, it causes selective awareness : the phenomenon of only noticing those things that help support or reinforce a belief. This can be disempowering — such as when a person who thinks they are ugly, only notices the less appealing aspects of their appearance. The same person, believing they are beautiful, would only notice the more appealing aspects of their appearance. Since either state can be disempowering depending on the situation, the best approach is to be aware of selective awareness and make an effort to see beyond it.
Belief systems can be intentionally modified through autosuggestion. The common technique is to develop an affirmation (a relevant and useful phrase or sentence) and repeat it, many times over a long period. As the words are repeated enough, and if the individual truly wants to believe it, it will gradually become a heart-felt belief. The belief filtering system then starts to act automatically.
The Critical Mass Effect in Groups
A group belief-system can sustain itself through the dual mechanisms of the reticular activating system and autosuggestion working together. Here's how it works:
- A certain number (or percentage) of group members believe something.
- Because they believe it, they say it, often repeatedly.
- Other members hear what is being repeated.
- Through suggestion, they eventually come to believe the same thing.
- These new members amplify the effect, and sustain the belief even if some of the original members leave.
- The process repeats so long as the group size is large enough and no traumatic interruption occurs.
This page was written in the "embarrassingly readable" markup language RHTF, and was last updated on 2011 Jan 03. s.27