Out It Goes
When I was young, our church had a minister that proclaimed that we must be wary of the devil’s work. He declared that we must eliminate certain items and beliefs from our households. One of those items was an Ouija board. This deeply concerned my mother given we had one of those boards. Because of this fear that he instilled in her, she took our Ouija board to the family farm and burned it. I believe there were other things or beliefs we had to purge from our home under the direction of this particular minister; however, the Ouija board is the one that sticks most in my memory. Maybe that is because I watched it go up in smoke!
It Is Everywhere
This is one example of someone influencing other people’s beliefs based on their own beliefs. Most of us regularly encounter people attempting to influence our beliefs. This behavior is very prevalent in newscasts, social media, and late night comedy. Of course, family, friends, and co-workers also regularly demonstrate this behavior.
People may consciously or unconsciously try to instill their beliefs in others. The stronger the connection that we have to the person; the more vulnerable we are to their beliefs influencing our own beliefs. Thus, it is not uncommon for our beliefs and values to shift based on the beliefs of those we trust. The resulting beliefs may or may not reflect our true beliefs.
True To Yourself
In order to prevent undue influence by others, it is important that we know our self and our true beliefs. By doing so, we can control our response to beliefs that differ from our own. When pressured to have a different belief, we can choose to remain silent realizing that the person has a right to their opinion. We can however, where appropriate, express a differing opinion in a caring manner. We do not have to accept the other person’s beliefs – no matter who they are or how powerful they are.
There are ways to check to see if someone is influencing you. If your emotions are stirred, for example, that can be a sign that someone is trying to use your emotions to instill their beliefs in you. Triggering fear and anger are common ways to make others vulnerable to influence.
You can also check to see how you view something now versus in your past. Has your belief changed? It is good to grow and change as long as the change was of your choosing. It is important to assess if you chose in your heart to change or if you allowed someone to “gift” you their belief.
If someone tries to instill their beliefs in you, stand firm. Recognize their effort for what it is and know that you do not need to fall victim to their influence. You have the power to make your own decisions.