Whether you are really right or not doesn’t matter, it’s the belief that counts. Robertson Davies
The root cause of most misunderstandings and arguments is well encapsulated by the above quote. When two individuals differ in their thoughts and beliefs, most times the end result is a standoff with neither person willing to back off. Then tempers are frayed, voices raised and the whole episode quite often ends up acrimoniously. What really triggers this sort of one-upmanship is the belief that each one stands by irrespective of the reality whether the belief is right or wrong. Once a person is convinced then getting the person to listen to a completely different view point or argument or logic is extremely tough. In normal circumstances, our beliefs are formed by our thoughts which are in turn influenced by what we read, hear or interpret.
Dogmatism and pragmatism are two extreme ends of a continuum. Most people shift to the dogmatic end of the continuum when they have a biased approach. They would then first attempt to reinforce their beliefs with frivolous ideas, stray thoughts taken out of context etc. Later they would rationalize their position to convince themselves that they are on the correct track. Mass hysteria is often triggered by appealing to the dogmatic nature of the people. On the other hand, pragmatism overshadows most other qualities of balanced people. While they do take a position on matters and have certain ideas and views, they are always open to listening to a different perspective and are prepared to incorporate the learning in coming to their own definitive views. The bottom line is that both a person who is dogmatic and a person who is pragmatic, both base their views on their own beliefs.
Belief is also greatly influenced by gut feeling. Some go by their hunch and this succeeds admiringly well when a person has done his/ her homework well and comes up with some innovative or radical ideas. They evaluate the success probability and then back their haunch when a decision is to be made. Other times our beliefs are formed and/ or influenced by auspices moments, events, persons and the like, where even the most rational people succumb to the overpowering influence of such extraneous elements. Blind faith is of course the bane of those who are superstitious or overtly god fearing. For them self belief could be a function of the unwritten writ as seen by ominous signs.
We often ignore a key anchor that has a wide influence in the formation of our beliefs. This is the role and importance of ‘clarity of purpose’ that motivates us and inspires us to reinforce our beliefs. In many ways religious fundamentalism stems from the reality that each religion wants to not just protect its flock but would desperately seek to increase the numbers too. From a corporate perspective, a mission and vision statement sets the tone for the clarity of purpose and they have a major influence in the evolution of a corporate culture and style. In our own lives too it is the clarity of purpose that drives us to develop our own value systems and helps us evolve as an individuals who stand up for our rights.
Remember: “The belief that there is only one truth, and that oneself is in possession of it, is the root of all evil in the world” Max Born
- Can you recollect one or two situations in your life when your confidence was shaken and your self belief became almost nonexistent. E.g. As captain of my football team I was rattled when the opposition scored 3 goals in the first 20 minutes of the game. I no longer believed we could claw back from that position to win the match.
- Read the poem Don’t Quit which is call to reinforce one’s self belief. Click on the following link to access the poem http://www.thedontquitpoem.com/thePoem.htm
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