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May 17, 2024

Preferences Are A Type Of Belief

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Perhaps the most powerful force that governs the decisions we make, the actions we take, and the results we get in our lives are our beliefs. Beliefs are the building blocks of identity and dictates how we show up in our lives.

Knowing this, something I’ve always struggled with is knowing what my beliefs are. We’re told on our growth journey to challenge our beliefs... But it’s impossible to do that if we’re not even aware of what our beliefs are in the first place.

Narrowing in from this much larger topic, let’s get a hands-on glimpse into what beliefs are by focusing on one type of them: Preferences.

Our preferences are simply what we prefer in our life. Or in different words, our preferences are an implicit understanding of what we like and what we don’t like.

When we think of our preferences they seem to be really superficial, like preferring vanilla to chocolate or sleeping in a cold room vs a warm room, which doesn’t seem to impact our lives that much...

But when we dive in a bit deeper you’ll see that your preferences are much more integrated in everything we do.

We have preferences for everything: The way we like to do things, the way we like to feel, the way we like to receive feedback, the way we like to make decisions… I could go on forever.

What’s underlying each of these preferences is it leans us toward a certain way of thinking and a certain way of acting. So what might seem like an arbitrary preference actually guides the direction of our lives.

Let me give a personal example that shows you just how far it ripples: I have a preference to feel productive with my time over not being productive.

This preference acts as an unconscious filter in everything I do. In many settings it is helpful to keep me on task, but in other settings it has consequences.

It leads to more disorganization because I don’t always invest the time in putting things away. It influences me to be less present in conversations when I’m running over time because I value being on schedule. And more fundamentally, it impacts my feelings of self-worth as I reflect on the quality of my day, potentially discrediting how good it was because I see all the things I didn’t get done.

This is happening constantly, unconsciously, and in everything we do. And this is just one example of how a preference influences everything else!

It’s harmless until it’s not because it steers your life completely off course.

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