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Imagine that an individual found a bag which contained $100,000 ... might the individual seek to return the money or would the individual keep it? Many individuals - in response to this question - will most likely proclaim that there would be an attempt to return the money to its rightful owner. However, what if an individual’s circumstances are challenging and the individual is at their limit? Then, might an individual behave differently than expected during challenging times? The answers to these questions are more complicated than one might think.
Challenging times can cause individuals to perform self-analysis to determine who an individual really is at that moment and in the world. Furthermore, anytime an individual’s actions, situations, or beliefs are challenged, these are the moments that often lead to individuals beginning to move past their everyday existence, while also questioning the foundation for their beliefs.
It’s easy to communicate to others and yourself the things that might be done in the future; however, given individual’s circumstances, situations, opportunities, or motives --- an individual’s beliefs do not always translate into their thoughts, actions, or behaviors.
Beliefs do not always reflect an individual’s thoughts, actions, or behaviors because beliefs can be influenced based on a/an:
* Self-Interest – action taken to meet an individual’s personal needs or objectives;
* Influence (e.g., peers, family, friends) – others’ input (positive or negative) can cause an individual to align with a different position;
* Impact to Others – a realization that an individual’s views impact others rights, happiness, or pursuits;
* Politics – an attempt to influence others to achieve an individual’s motive(s) or hidden agenda(s);
* Situation – something happens that is so significant that it causes a change (temporary or long-term) in an individual’s position.
There are numerous examples of individuals who proclaim their belief(s) and then conveniently change their position(s) due to situations or circumstances within their own circle-of-influence. For example:
* a company that initially refuses to do something questionable for a client and then does it anyway after the client threatens the loss of future business;
* a manager who does not protect an employee from workplace abuse and then feels differently after similar behavior happens to the same individual;
* Senator Rob Portman’s changed position on gay marriage after his son revealed that he’s gay.
Many times individual beliefs are a concept, consideration, or a convenience versus being something that an individual actually believes, will defend, and acts upon; although, challenging moments, times, or situations can force individuals to question or redefine their belief system, which can lead to changes in one’s thoughts, actions, or behaviors.
Individuals must use their core beliefs as a foundation for their thoughts, actions, or behaviors. Otherwise, individual beliefs that are not well-defined and solidified cannot be the basis for an individual’s reflection and representation of their true self. The significance of this point is that an individual’s character is driven by their beliefs demonstrated by their thoughts, actions, or behaviors over time and not a single moment in time.
(*) Reference my article “Belief: An Underutilized Tool” (www.slyoung.com/belief.html) to review definitions for concept, consideration, and convenience as it relates to the topic of belief
award-winning educator, mental health advocate, social entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, author/writer, program executive, and radio host