May 10     

Today's quotation:

We are incredibly heedless in the formation of our beliefs, but find ourselves with an illicit passion for them when anyone proposes to rob us of their companionship.  It is obviously not the ideas themselves that are dear to us, but our self-esteem that is threatened.

James Harvey

Today's Meditation:

These days, one of my first questions to myself whenever I start to feel judgmental is whether or not what I'm feeling is the result of knowledge or of a belief.  I've been on this planet for quite a long time, and I've formed quite a lot of beliefs in that time.  One of the seeming common traits of human beings, though, is that we tend to defend our beliefs come hell or high water, because we think that they help to define who we are.  The truth is, though, that beliefs are simply beliefs, and many of them are rather dangerous because they help to form our lives in negative ways.

If I believe in Santa Claus, that's a rather harmless belief.  If I believe, though, that other people should share my belief because I know I'm right, then I become a threat to other people's peace and I set myself up for lots of frustration.  If I believe that I'm not lovable (a typical trait of an Adult Child of an Alcoholic), or that I'm doomed to live my life in poverty, then those beliefs help to shape my behaviors, and thus my life.  And I can't depend upon other people to help to change my beliefs, because the ways I act are going to help keep other people away.

So I regularly ask myself if what I feel is a belief or knowledge.  Do I assign homework because research shows that it helps my students, or because I believe it's for the best?  Do I try to convince someone else of something because I know for sure that it's true, or because I believe that it's true?  And I have to be careful, because when I try to figure out if what I think is a belief or knowledge, it's very easy for me to seek out only evidence that supports my belief, and ignore or reject any evidence that may indicate that my belief is unfounded.

We need to be able to look at our beliefs objectively so that we can decide whether or not they're hurting us or helping us, to decide to get rid of them, change them, or keep them.  If I believe that most human beings are liars, then I'm going to see a lot of lying in my life, and it would be much better for me to change that belief.  If I believe that most human beings are good at heart, then I'm going to see a lot of goodness, and that's a belief that I think I'll hold on to.

Questions to consider:

How do we form our beliefs?  Do we always do so consciously?

How many of our beliefs are positive and helpful to us?

What does it take to change or reject a certain belief?

For further thought:

Our beliefs are so powerful that they color our entire world.  We literally see what we believe, but we can--and most of us do--fail to take responsibility for what we see, especially what we see within.

Hugh Prather

more on beliefs



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