When Belief Systems Collide

by | Jun 13, 2024 | Healthy Relationships

You know that moment when you discover that your and another person’s belief systems collide?

Navigating conversations when you encounter conflicting worldviews can be challenging but also enriching if approached with an open-minded, soft heart.  Learning how to stay connected and kind in our relationships with one another – especially when a difference of opinion on a social issue, a political divide, or managing our differing belief systems are at play – is a worthwhile capacity to develop.

It takes a lot of courage and fortitude, because the journey to bridging belief systems often involves:

  • Feeling into the pain of the past
  • Grieving the lack of capacity we each had in previous encounters
  • Sitting courageously in the face of the things we fear
  • Regulating and soothing our triggered parts
  • Being open to ideas, truths or opinions that scare or anger us
  • Listening for what people mean instead of getting triggered by how they are saying it
  • Slowing down when we want to go fast

… and much more!

One thing that has helped me in these situations, however, is trusting the process in the search for a truth.  When I make it about truth-seeking, exploring and thinking together, the conversational game changes fundamentally from a right/wrong competition to an investigation in which we both get to update and refine our belief systems.

Here’s what I mean:

  • I start with the assumption that I only want to believe things that are true. I care about my beliefs being aligned with what is true and real. 
  • This means I want to be able to release any beliefs I hold that I discover are not true.
  • I assume that it’s very likely that I believe some things that are not true.
  • Additionally, It’s highly unlikely that everything I currently believe is true.
  • I can get really good at releasing old beliefs and updating them to new, better beliefs.
  • And, I believe that truth can stand up to any scrutiny – it’s just my job to become more and more aligned with it.

When I get activated in conversations, I find it very soothing to remind myself that truth will be more powerful than illusions, and that my only job is to keep questioning things until I can get closer and closer to a fundamental truth.  Along the way I will probably believe some “crazy” things, and that’s OK – it’s just part of the journey of figuring it all out – like everyone else.

When I remind myself of this, a few things may happen:

  1. I stop taking so personally the differences that may be emerging.
  2. I focus less on confirming and proving my pre-existing belief systems, and care more about tweaking and changing my belief systems to adapt to what I am discovering is more true.
  3. When I do this, I see the other person as more of a thought partner than an adversary, and my entire way of being in the conversation softens and shifts.

Intrigued? Give it a go and let me know what you discover.

On this week’s podcast, we hear from two callers navigating emotionally charged topics and working towards connected conversations.

We take a look at:

  • 1:51  How can I connect with my parents if there is no trust?
  • 13:55  My friend and I disagree strongly – what do I do?
  • 32:58  A celebration of growth!
  • 39:17  Our past is hurting our present – how can we move forward?

Interested in reading more on the ways we connect with each other?  Check out Cultivating INTERdependence.

What have you found to be effective or helpful when worldviews collide?  I’d love to know.  Leave a comment below.


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