Tip #7: Challenge your Beliefs | Pollack Peacebuilding Systems

April 19, 2021by Noah Shaw0

This week’s conflict resolution tip is about the importance of challenging your beliefs.

The first step to challenging your beliefs is recognizing the difference between knowledge and belief. Although there are many different philosophies that undergird this subject, the way I approach knowledge is by viewing it as a concept of truth or reality that is supported by empirical evidence or direct observation with the senses. On the other hand, belief is a concept of truth or reality that is not necessarily supported by empirical evidence or direct observation with the senses. This doesn’t mean the belief is not true, it just means it is not necessarily supported by evidence.

An example of knowledge might be that if I am speaking with someone across a table, I have evidence to support that the table between us exists—that it is a tangible object that I can directly see and touch. Now imagine I finish the conversation with this person and they leave to go back home. An example of belief might be that I believe this person still exists and is alive even though once they leave, I cannot provide evidence to support that claim.

Once you recognize what you believe and what you actually know, you can decide which of your beliefs are worth challenging. The beliefs worth challenging are those that tend to lead you to conflict within yourself or with others. For example, if you believe that everyone who doesn’t agree with you on a particular topic is stupid, then that belief may be worth challenging because it will get you into conflict. Note that people often identify with and are emotionally invested in their beliefs, which can lead to defensiveness.

It is not easy to challenge your beliefs, but if you notice they are getting you into conflict, they are worth challenging. If you want to bring more peace into your life, be willing to recognize the difference between your knowledge and beliefs, notice which beliefs are worth challenging, and then test these beliefs to see if you would be open to other versions of reality or perspectives. In a nutshell, this is what challenging your beliefs is all about.

Noah Shaw

Noah is the Peace Operations Coordinator at Pollack Peacebuilding Systems. His writing on the latest workplace conflict resolution research has been featured on Mediate.com.

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