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Why Change is So Difficult: Overcoming Beliefs

September 22, 2010

Examining your inherent beliefs is critical when you find yourself needing to make a change in your life.  When something isn’t working well for you – say you aren’t feeling satisfied in your career, in the status of your health, or maybe in your relationships.

Teachers know how difficult it is to get students to critically think about their own thinking, to evaluate their own assumptions and  beliefs.  It’s just as difficult for adults. Maybe more so because we have lived with our beliefs longer.

When was the last time you took the time to examine your own beliefs?  I’m not talking about your spirituality.  I’m talking about your inherent beliefs about your self, your job, your role as an educator, your beliefs about education.

I recently read an interesting journal article regarding the need to examine one’s own beliefs before one can effect change in his/her life.  I’m citing the article below so you can access it yourself if you so desire.

The author discusses, among many other topics, belief perseverance.

Belief Perseverance is this tendency to reject convincing proof and become even more tenaciously held when the belief has been publicly announced to others.

One of the greatest stumbling blocks to effecting change is overcoming beliefs.  First, you have to be aware of what your deeply held beliefs are.  This is so ingrained in us, that it is at times difficult to identify.  Once you are able to identify you core beliefs about the world, then you really have to take a good hard look at those beliefs and try to determine if they are valid.

This is really difficult, sometimes emotional work.   Have you ever caught yourself clinging to a belief even when you are being presented with conflicting information that is pretty credible?   I have done this.  I have seen others do this.

I think it all goes back to that concept we educators understand all too well – it’s easier to teach something correctly the first time than to un-teach something that was learned and practiced incorrectly.   Our beliefs have been with us all our lives, and we have been ‘practicing’ them for all these years.

Only by taking the time to examine our beliefs can we lead ourselves to effect change in our lives.

*Enemies of Critical Thinking: Lessons From Social Psychology Research   Nancy L. Douglas , Reading Psychology 21: 129-144, 2000

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