Welcome! Today I’m enjoying the third straight day of sun and warmth in the normally-cool Seattle spring. I am grateful today for the opportunity to share this blog with you. Thank you for reading it.
Today’s post is inspired by the Prompt from the Daily Post, What’s your reason to believe?
OK. Let me start by saying there is a book in this one question. There may be even a few volumes. I’m going to just be writing one blog article on it. This post I present here will hopefully inspire myself and others to question, consider, and change the beliefs that cause us pain.
I like this definition of Belief from the Wikipedia.
Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a conjecture or premise to be true.
Belief for me is one of the defining elements of my existence. As I consider my place in the world, universe, and cosmos beliefs bring context to everything I perceive. It is more than a set of rules I use to interpret everything that is happening, it is a set of rules I use to define and redefine what has happened, and it forms the basis of my expectations of what will happen.
Every morning now, I walk about a half of a mile to our office from the exit of the bus tunnel here in downtown Seattle. This walk takes me across Pioneer Square, an old part of downtown Seattle. Nearby are several shelters and other services for our city’s homeless. This means that the homeless tend to gather in the public spaces for mutual support, camping, and meetups of other kinds. I am walking through their living rooms everyday.
As I walk I am bombarded by judgements. I remember being homeless. I feel my guilt and shame about how much I have. I am confronted with my beliefs about personal power and the reasons for poverty. I am comforted by seeing these people smiling and laughing in spite of the negatives of their situations. As I walk, I catalog my reactions and judgements. In a flood of mental images, memories, stories, and opinions, I perceive my place in the world. I can see my interpretation of myself, my family, my work, my city, my country, my world, my universe, my cosmos reflecting off the cobblestone surfaces of the park and the faces of the people who live there. This, I know, is my perception of reality after interpretation by my beliefs.
The reason I believe is like the reason I breathe. I cannot live without beliefs. They are part of what defines me, and thus drive my decisions, and therefore determine my actions. My beliefs form the basis of my consciousness.
The problem is that when my beliefs drive attitudes and actions that aren’t good for me, they result in consequences I either didn’t intend or that don’t serve my highest and best. I’m confronted by the reality of the world being different from what I believe should be true about it. In these cases, things they need a changin’.
Here are some of the things I no longer believe that resulted in consequences that didn’t make me happy or joyful when I did believe them:
You earn love.
You establish your place by determining a pecking order.
It’s not what you know, its who you know.
Other people must understand my intentions.
I am responsible for what other people think about me.
I am incapable of developing some skills.
I must impress people for them to like me.
I must exert control to be safe.
The world hates incompetence.
I must work to convince others that they need me.
I am safer when people need me.
God will only let me into heaven if I am clean of all sin.
The poor are there by accident and happenstance.
I will be safe if I have enough wealth.
As I write these old beliefs here, I realize that this list could be titled, “things I learned from experience” or “beliefs that changed as I gained wisdom.”
Since my beliefs define my reality, questioning them is vital to my evolution toward living a happy life and feeling good. Getting outside my own box of thinking to look upon my world from new perspective is critical to gaining wisdom, connecting to others, and living fulfilled in this mortal experience.
It is my right and duty to use my current beliefs to determine my attitudes and actions, but they are not reality and they are not always helpful in being happy and joyful. I will strive to set aside my ego and seek clarity and understanding instead of judging everything as proof that I have it right. Through humility, gratitude, and patience, I will find new beliefs that are in greater alignment with my highest and best. By being present and open to the teachers, guides, and wayshowers in the world, I can unlearn the beliefs that no longer serve me.
I hope that today you have all green lights. Be well my friends. I’m on your posse.