An unexamined life – mine

I recently read someone belittling someone else’s beliefs, for fun, and I thought how in the hell can you think that will change anything – do you not know that making someone feel stupid shuts them down to listening to you. And then I realised I was actually doing something similar – not seeing it from their perspective and wanting to make a sarcastic comment to make them feel dumb. So why is it we feel the instant need to show others just how wrong they are?

I think that when someone bumps up against a belief we hold dear we get defensive, but it also depends on our mood at the time. It’s never about the other person’s ‘silly’ beliefs but about us needing to make ourselves feel better by putting them down, or being frustrated because we think if everyone agreed with our view life would be better. If we genuinely disagreed then surely we would want to find the best way to get them to listen rather than just push them further into their view? Everyone thinks what they believe is right because that’s the nature of beliefs to look for what agrees and discount what doesn’t. Just think about something people tell you, eg you are good at something. If you don’t believe you are you will just focus on how you are not no matter how many times you are told you are. We see that all the time. Sometimes people will literally feel uncomfortable with being told what we see is obvious because their world is built around that opposite belief and they fear letting go of it.

Our beliefs are given to us as we grow up either by what we are told or what we experience. We then see the world through those beliefs unless we choose to examine them or out grow them naturally. Most people just accept that what they think is true when it might not be, and unfortunately a lot of beliefs are hidden unless you look. But it’s worth remembering that if you grew up in a different environment you could have different beliefs. (obviously it’s a bit more complicated than that though). So seeing someone as a human being who’s whole life has led them to how they are, and being curious to that will get you a lot further than judging them. (That’s not to say some people shouldn’t be stopped from acting on their beliefs, but stopping people and explaining why is very different from attacking them.

So me getting annoyed was great, getting annoyed shows you a belief that needs examining or that you are feeling a bit grisly and chose that to let it out. And it helped me learn to see things from another perspective, how they can feel right. I did read an idea that we should regularly lunch with people who have opposite views to us and see them as humans, no animosity or trying to prove you are right. What a change that would make in the world, if we could discuss and understand. Even if you are right what is good about making anther human being feel wrong? And of course my favourite thing to remind myself is that if I had lived that person’s life and believed that person’s beliefs I would be no different to them. Helping each other try on different views so we can then choose what is right for us is far better than feeling animosity and frustration too. And usually works a damn site quicker at changing attitudes too. Mine included.

I recently got round to watching the TV series ‘the greatest thinkers’ (brilliant) and I was struck by how many people had such amazing and important ideas but weren’t listened to simply because they shared them in a attacking and disparaging way. If people could just be secure enough to be open to what another believes, and remember we all want the same at the end of the day, a lot of problems would just dissolve and a lot of conflict have been avoided. Not easy though, but gotta start somewhere.

What I also learned from this is that I felt uncomfy with someone thinking it’s OK to do something that will knowingly get other people’s backs up because I would never allow myself to be that honest due to not wanting to appear hypocritical. I have wasted far too much time examining whether my view was OK and in line with what I teach because I judged myself as not good enough if it ever wasn’t. God how stupid that seems now, lol. Plus of course the anxiety of fearing being hypocritical made me more likely to be incongruent anyway! See – that’s what unexamined beliefs do to you! (or as I see in my work – most people end up just trying to run away from their own beliefs/ get out of their own heads). We hold ourselves back so much, and cause ourselves so much unnecessary suffering because we are not taught this. Life can be hard enough without us adding to it. Mind you in style of this – I also get how much easier it is to avoid doing so too – I’ve been avoiding this hypocrisy belief for years, plus it isn’t the popular thing to do. I know that too, lol. So I will get pondering how I can do my bit to change that….

Thanks if you kept reading long enough to read this!!


About katalyst4change

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