A person saying that she or he believes in something is frequently making a statement of conviction. “I, too, have seen objects fall and I believe in gravity.” Thanks to Newton, there is little controversy about believing that. There is another aspect of believe that is conjecture. As in, “I believe Melville made that reference in another book, not just in Moby Dick”. It’s an appropriate melding of conviction and conjecture in this word, “believe”, because it permits us to categorize thoughts that are not facts, not events, not laws of nature but are important concepts nonetheless.
When we’re told, “I believe…” it is in the realm of conviction and conjecture, and we’re being asked to suspend evidence. Scientific, legal, financial or statistical evidence that might be brought to bear on the impending conviction is to be put aside in favor of a personal commitment as to the truth of the impending conviction. When a person states “I believe…” she or he offers a conviction beyond rational argument. It is at once weaker, due to the absence of substantiation, and more powerful, due to the personal emotion attached to it. In essence “I believe…” is without rational, supportable evidence yet it leads to more argument and conflict among people because it’s not enough that “I believe…” - you must also share the belief. Or, the “I believe…” just heard conflicts with a conviction that is held dear and is perceived as a personal threat.
Perhaps there is no greater evidence of humans being primarily irrational. Admittedly, believing in something without others to share the belief with is difficult. Conversely, a mob, no matter how large, brings power to a conviction but it does not lessen the conjecture.
And a statement of “I believe…” unto itself, never poses a threat to others. Only ensuing actions threaten. (A statement of intention threatens because of the action it implies.) This distinction has been lost repeatedly throughout history, and even the most benign convictions, e.g., the power of love, spark preemptory strikes.
A belief does not exist without a word. Feelings exist without a word. The natural world exists without a word (but it is meaningless until words are attached to it). Existence happens without a word but not living. Much of what occurs at DolphinWork Life Coaching clarifies the meaning of the words that are used to form what a person believes. Most often, what the person believes about self. The words that a person chooses to describe “reality” blends conviction with conjecture and forms many “I believe…” statements. Almost all of these beliefs were useful at some time and with repetition the sensitivity to the embedded conjecture goes away. What was useful can become a detriment to happiness, to success and/or to meaningful relationships.
Ironic it is that the strongest believers are not those who ignore the conjecture within their belief. The strongest believer allows the conviction to be open. The belief becomes more, becomes deeper, when it has been vulnerable to conjecture and withstands the scrutiny. From strong belief, everything is possible!