The Power of Hidden Beliefs

by Jul 2, 2024

The Power of Hidden Beliefs

Hidden beliefs are the deep-seated ideas we have about ourselves, others and the world. Understanding them helps us become more authentic and fulfilled in our careers.


The role of repeated stories in establishing our hidden beliefs and the commitments we make, usually unconsciously is critical. These stories can come from our parents, families, churches, schools, media, and wider cultures They play a significant role in shaping our perceptions, values, and world views and behaviours, which in turn impact all our relationships and everything we do. This can be on a wider cultural level, in our relationships with our romantic partners, and in the workplace. Hidden beliefs and commitments can influence everything we do.

Personal beliefs

The stories we hear about ourselves contribute to our identity and self-belief. Personal narratives about our experiences, abilities, and worth shape our understanding around who we are and what we can achieve. Our roles in the family as the “leader,” “troublemaker,” “funny one,” “peacemaker,” and “good student/athlete” are legacies we take with us and become part of the fabric of our personal narratives.

When we repeat these stories we engage emotionally with them, which reinforces their impact, making them more memorable and influential. These stories and the associated beliefs become embedded in our psyches and become who we are. The child “fixer” becomes the person who gets things done in the workplace. The peacemaker becomes the office diplomat or the conciliator in personal relationships. The girl who believes she has to be perfect to be valued, becomes a micro-manager and /or overachiever.

In the workplace

Our hidden beliefs are a powerful influence on our actions, attitudes, and achievements.  These subconscious thoughts and assumptions guide our behaviour, expectations and interactions, shaping who we are at work. Understanding these hidden beliefs can help us become more authentic and fulfilled in our careers.


hidden beliefs


The Impact of Hidden Beliefs

Hidden beliefs and our commitment to them underpin many of the things we do and the role we assume in relationships. This can become our key drivers and impact some, or all, of the following:

  1. Self-Perception and Confidence:  Hidden beliefs about our abilities can either help or hinder us. If someone believes, even subconsciously, that they aren’t as good as their peers, they might avoid challenging tasks and miss growth opportunities. On the other hand, someone who believes in their own worth might tackle tasks confidently and take on leadership roles.
  2. Interactions with Colleagues: Our hidden beliefs about others affect how we interact with them especially if we link them to unconscious biases or stereotypes. This can lead us down a rabbit hole of misperceptions; irrational decisions, lost opportunities, misunderstandings, and even conflict. But if we believe in the value of diversity and inclusivity, we can create a more collaborative and supportive work environment.
  3. Response to Feedback: How we take feedback is also influenced by hidden beliefs. Someone who thinks they need to be perfect might react defensively to criticism. But someone who believes in continuous improvement will see feedback as a chance to grow.
  4. Career Aspirations and Choices: Hidden beliefs shape our career paths. Our ideas about what success means, what work is meaningful, and what roles we deserve to influence our career decisions, from the industries we enter to the positions we seek.


Uncovering and Addressing Hidden Beliefs

To understand and address hidden beliefs, we need to become aware of them. Here are some ways to do that:

  1. Reflective Practice: Regular self-reflection, like journaling or meditation, can help uncover hidden beliefs. Asking questions like “Why did I react that way?” or “What assumption am I making?” can provide insights. What hidden belief is behind that pattern of behaviour?
  2. Seek Feedback: Talking with trusted colleagues, mentors, or coaches can give us outside perspectives on our behavior and attitudes, revealing hidden beliefs we might not see ourselves.
  3. Challenge Assumptions: Once we identify hidden beliefs, it’s important to question their validity. Are they based on facts or outdated ideas? Changing these beliefs and making other commitments can lead to healthier thought patterns.
  4. Embrace Continuous Learning: From diverse perspectives, ongoing education can help us challenge and reshape hidden beliefs. This could be through formal training, reading, or conversations with people from different backgrounds.

Positive and negative

Because hidden beliefs influence how we see ourselves, relate to others, and navigate our careers they can be both positive and negative. By identifying and actively shaping these beliefs, we can become more authentic and empowered at work and operate with greater insight and agility.

If you would like a free worksheet to help you identify your hidden beliefs and commitments – send an email to

Create an inclusive workplace for all, with 3Plus’ Unconscious Bias Training Workshop.

Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
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