There’s a concept in mathematics and the sciences called an “axiom” or a “postulate” — it’s a technical term meaning a statement that is taken to be true. That statement then provides the logical foundation for a system of thinking. For example, the laws of thermodynamics are well-known axioms. That every action is met with an equal and opposite reaction is an axiom based on observation—so there is reason to believe that it is true—and it provides a foundation for modern science.
Axioms aren’t relegated solely to the realms of science and mathematics. We have axioms in our own lives as well, though we might not think of them that way. We might call our own personal axioms “limiting beliefs” or our “worldview”. These are statements about ourselves, other people, and society at large that we take to be true. They’re often based on observation and lived experience, but tainted by each of our subjective dispositions. Depending on the stories of our own lives—where and how we grew up, our wealth or lack thereof, our race, our religion, our sexual orientation, our education—each of us will have a different set of personal axioms. On the scale of objectivity, our minds fall near the opposite end of peer-reviewed and time-tested scientific theories (whether these are truly objective is a different discussion). Point is, our own personal axioms are not inherent laws of the universe, but laws conceived of and imposed by our own minds.
For example, somebody might live under the axiom that “the world is a dangerous place.” That person’s behaviour, attitude, outlook, and disposition will all fall in line with this statement. They’ll be unlikely to trust other people, they might own a firearm for self-defence, and may prefer not to travel abroad. Conversely, if another person follows the axiom that “people are inherently good,” they might be more likely to trust strangers, travel, or ask a stranger to watch their backpack at a cafe while they go to the bathroom.
These axioms also deeply affect the way we see ourselves. Many creative projects are stifled by axioms that undermine our confidence in our own ability. A writer might struggle to even finish a first draft if they believe…