“Am I really searching to gain and expand the notion that I am open-minded? Or am I only gathering evidence to support existing beliefs that I am open-minded? I am actually only conforming to the non-conforming.
I have always thought of myself as an open-minded person with open-minded views. I have always tried to welcome new ideas as well as other points of view. I thought I was an “out-of-the-box” type person. I tried to oppose the norm and the status quo of things, always searching for something new and different in my approach to handling my personal problems or other issues that affected me.
When I first started exploring what I believe in and the impact these beliefs have on my life and others, it was really amazing to see that what I perceived as open-minded and out-of-the-box were really just inside another box. The difference was that this box was called non-conformity, and it didn’t fit into the majority’s viewpoint. Or does it? How many times have you said, “I am an open-minded person”?
As I pointed out in an earlier blog post, there is in every life an occurrence, and this “what happened moment” makes you question what happened and why. Then we create a story and a belief about ourselves that answers and supports this question of why and what happened (i.e. good, bad, right, or wrong). This is where we begin to gather evidence to support our new belief, which then becomes the foundation of our lives that later comes into play as the reality of our present life. The good and bad times are somewhat the bipolarity of our existence and are based solely on what is now this new belief. I look at this belief as if it were a computer that first started as a simple binary code program of 01 001 110 and then upgraded to DOS, to 46 years later becoming a more complex program of Jorgen 47.6.
The layering of these beliefs begins as we search throughout our lives to gather support and validation of our newly found identity and perceptions that we call our beliefs. The continuation of this blog is not about these core beliefs that seem to make our lives so filled with drama and excitement. Instead, it is an inquiry into the subtle beliefs or little innuendos that are a bit harder to catch that really drive the everyday experience. They are more of a practice in being mindful to what is around us, as well as the noise that happens between our ears and the study of self (which is more of a Buddhist-based practice).
There are beliefs that are very easy to flush out and some that are not so easy. For example, what if I asked you what your view (aka ‘belief’) is on God. I would quickly discover your viewpoint, understanding, and what you think will likely happen to us after death. If I were to ask what makes you happy, you could tell me without hesitation about a certain person or act, perhaps an expectation of a gift from another or from yourself. What creates this happiness is our relation to our beliefs. I am not suggesting that these things really do or do not make you happy… I am merely suggesting that you are attached to this idea of happiness through your beliefs that make-up part of your identity. However, it might be possible that these very same subtle beliefs are somewhat responsible not only for your happiness, but also for your discontent.
I should also add that it is not likely to change these beliefs solely through discussion because “we” or “I” am very attached to these beliefs. For me, it takes questioning and actually making an attempt to shake them out (the “belief shake-down”). Most beliefs that run our days and nights are a little more difficult to expose because they are disguised in our everyday language. It is also the very dialogue and unspoken understanding of the language. When someone gives us a compliment and we shy away or when we have a nervous tone when we try to stand up for ourselves, this would be an example of a subtle belief.
One of the largest components to this is the complaints we have. I want to look at this for a moment since some of these complaints are directed inward and some are directed outward. Complaints can be about others hurting us physically or emotionally, both intentionally or unintentionally. They can be about work, a coworker, going to the gym, traffic, or just getting out of bed when you're still tired. That moment when you do something and ask yourself why, you can often think, “Why did I do that? How can I be so stupid?” Then the dialogue for the interpretation of what happened and why, are based on your beliefs. “What did I do wrong? Why does this keep happening to me?” Sometimes these complaints are so general we don’t even understand what they are… “Life is so unfair!” Whatever your complaint is about yourself, others, your life, or the world, they are the makeup of your beliefs, judgments, and opinions. What about life is unfair? What was it that you did that was stupid? It’s not so much about answering the question at this point. It is simply a way to sit with these little sarcasms, innuendos, and jabs at yourself or others. If at all possible, look at the inner dialogue instead of taking it outward. I know this because I didn't have appreciation, respect, or love for myself. I also didn't treat others very well, or at least not as well as I would want to expect from myself.
Exposing your judgments and beliefs will sometimes take you to a place where you feel entitled or want to make excuses to defend your position. This is where we don’t want to let go of judgments and beliefs. After this process, you will find your identity, or what some call the ego. If I’m wrong about this or that, what happens? This is who I am, and if I don’t know who I am and I challenge this, I have a crisis on my hands of identity. My identity does not want to die! At the very least, exposing these judgments, opinions, and beliefs can help me see where I am being held back.
Notice you the small-talk with your self-complaints about others, unfair situations, and the difficulties in your life. I personally notice that I constantly complain about many different things. However, I now notice them and can see that they are complaints. This then turns into something I can challenge. The question is, are you in control of your thoughts, beliefs, judgments, and opinions? Or are you just along for the ride?