November 18     

Today's quotation:

They were so strong in their beliefs that there came a time when it hardly mattered what exactly those beliefs were; they all fused into a single stubbornness.

Louise Erdrich

Today's Meditation:

Our beliefs do make us stubborn sometimes, don't they?  If I believe that young people should act in certain ways, I'm going to be pretty stubborn in demanding that they act that way.  If I believe that my idea of God is the one and only version of God, then I'll stubbornly cling to that belief no matter how much evidence may be presented to me to the contrary.  If I believe that certain roles are appropriate for a certain gender, then often, nothing that anyone says to me will make me think differently.

Our stubbornness is so often a result of beliefs that have become deeply engrained in our psyches, and no matter what others do to try to educate us to the contrary, those beliefs keep us thinking in the same ways.  Beliefs, though, shouldn't be ideas and concepts that keep us frozen in certain ways of seeing the world; rather, they should be flexible and dynamic, ready to be changed as soon as we learn something that contradicts them.  When a belief is contradicted in a way that is irrefutable, it's time to change that belief, not hold on to it come hell or high water.

Our beliefs, though, give us a sense of safety.  They make us feel that we have a grasp on this world we're living in, like we've made a bit of sense out of things that don't always make sense to us.  Unfortunately, we tend to keep our beliefs even when evidence tells them they're not accurate, simply because we're afraid to lose something that gives us that feeling of security.  The truth is, though, that we're holding on to a feeling of security, not true security itself-- what we think makes sense really doesn't, and we're simply fooling ourselves into thinking it does.

It's very important, especially when things are going badly, that we re-examine our beliefs and figure out whether they might be the element of our lives that are actually causing problems for us.  We need to make sure that our beliefs aren't old and worn-out and actually damaging-- we don't want to make ourselves miserable simply in order to hold on to thoughts that are no longer relevant in our lives today.  We function much better in life when our behaviors are caused by the situations at hand, and not by our beliefs that change the ways that we see those situations.

Questions to consider:

Where do beliefs come from?  How do they end up controlling us and our behaviors so strongly?

What kinds of beliefs influence your behavior most strongly?

How might you go about examining your beliefs to determine whether they're still relevant in your life?

For further thought:

Whenever you are confused about why you did something, look for a belief.  Beliefs compel you to do what you might otherwise think is stupid.  The belief isn't stupid.  It's just a belief.  Change the belief and you change the behavior.  Most people will have no clue that their behavior comes from their own beliefs.  They will want to blame others--the president, the economy, their family, friends, childhood, and so on.  Blame is easy.  It avoids responsibility.  Recognizing that all behavior is caused by a belief will help you select better beliefs for yourself.  It will also help you understand others.

Joe Vitale
Life's Missing Instruction Manual

more thoughts and ideas on beliefs



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