Some people will travel through their life journey and never have to question any of their personal beliefs. They may be insulated by where they live, the people that surround them or are just never exposed to anything different. They live and die with a set of beliefs that seem to be set in concrete.
For the rest of us it seems that much of the turmoil in our lives, the stress, the unhappiness, the numbness or dullness of our thinking comes from a conflict going on, in our day to day living. A conflict between our belief system and what seems to be challenging it.
Your belief system becomes part of your "brain tape loop" for lack of any better words. It begins at childhood and those who are bigger than you, tell you in one way or another how it is, how the "group" reacts, how you deal with "it" and what to say, how to act and sadly sometimes how to be.
As we grow older we challenge some of these beliefs. We test them as teens, we dismiss them as young adults, we collect new ones that seem to fit better and so forth.
Unfortunately, just dismissing a long held belief, doesn't take it out of the loop. Belief systems are well entrenched. They might be momentarily shaded or blocked by a new belief but unless you take some creative measures they will resurface. And, this might come at an unexpected time with strange results.
In the book The Spirit Catches You, you would learn that Western medicine is effective and rigorous, that it has a fix the complaint mentality not necessarily the problem. But, it is also a BELIEF SYSTEM. If you are Hmong, as little Lia in the book, you would believe that her epilepsy is a sign of a wandering spirit, and THAT IS NO LESS VALID.
Most of us don't have time to take all the things that we have BELIEVED, that we have taken as proven, right and unquestionable, in our lives and examine them. I'm beginning to think that maybe that examination, is far more important than we realize.
From the BIG BELIEFS to the everyday, little ones, they all have an effect on our choices, decisions, answers, conduct and so forth. And, when those choices, decisions, answers and conduct cause us conflict, problems, stress, emotions and unexpected actions, it's time for us to stop and take the time to really write down our long held, cherished beliefs.
When I say BIG BELIEFS people always say, of course, I understand, my spiritual beliefs, my code of conduct, my moral compass and so forth. Then then stumble because they don't really understand the little beliefs and what they are.
The little beliefs, the ones that our families, transmitted to us, through their language, their attitudes towards other people, their fears, their loves and hatreds. Sometimes it wasn't words that we received but examples of how certain situations were handled.
How family treated one another was our first lessons in our belief system. How we spoke to one another, treated one another, handled issues and our emotions.
I grew up with the words SHUT UP. It was used freely. When I became a teenager I realized that saying that to another person was demeaning. It was telling that person that they had nothing of value to say, that they were of no importance to the conversation or issue. I think that was probably the first little belief system that I looked at long and hard and by doing so, listed my own reasons why it was an unacceptable one to hold on to. While raising my own children it was a Belief System that I passed on to them, in how we treat people in conversations. And, it was explained to them. They understood it. I've never heard the expression used around my grandchildren or by them to one another.
When a nutrition counselor or weight counselor would suggest to people that they LOOK at what is causing them to wander around the kitchen, grazing or ASK themselves why they think they need that piece of candy, it's not really helping. And, frankly people overweight know they don't need to be in the kitchen grazing and they know quite well they don't need that piece of candy. We aren't stupid, we are just fat.
And, most of us aren't fat because we eat the wrong things or we eat bigger portions or fast food or don't exercise. The next time I hear that from someone I want to grab four, 25 pound bags of salt, for the water softener and load them up in their arms and then tell them to go about their day and the next and the next and don't put those bags down. Every day, those of us overweight are lugging around those bags.
But, that's not my point. My point is despite our wanting to dismiss the deep introspection, bypass the "therapy" we really do need to stop, go get our journals, find a quiet space and write down WHAT WE THINK was going through our heads, when we wanted that chocolate.
Really? Are you sure that's what you were feeling? Thinking? Take a minute and write down the BELIEF SYSTEM behind that thought. Write it out like a commandant.
Thou shall not..................
Stunning isn't it? Didn't know that was lurking there did you?
Thought you got rid of that old thought ages ago. Heck, you haven't even thought of that situation, event, or scenario for years and years.
But, that original event, that original situation or phrase is what is in the loop. It's what is really causing this imbalance. It's why you are out here in the kitchen, staring at something that you don't really need to eat, aren't really hungry for and causing you a problem.
Whatever happened that stirred an emotion in you, like a magnet attracted that old belief back up almost to the surface of your mind. I say almost because it's lurking right there behind what you THINK is the "real reason" you are upset.
Don't have to BELIEVE me, just try it out. Write in your journal when you find yourself unhappy with a situation. What did you EXPECT to happen and didn't.
What emotion are you feeling? What's the second emotion?
Got a third one hidden under those two?
Be honest with yourself. You aren't doing this for your therapist. You aren't doing it to win point with anybody.
You are trying to SAVE YOUR LIFE.
Don't think this is important. Fine. Like I said, there are many that go through life with nothing upsetting the apple cart. Things pass through them like a sieve, nothing ruffles them. They do what they do and never in excess. How nice for them.
For your own well being I suggest that you make your BELIEF LIST. That you list on one side of the paper what you discover and on the other side whether it's a keeper or write a new one.
I'm not making this stuff up. I'm sure you can find some sort of professional name for this exercise or experiment by someone that has "papers". For me, it seems to be common sense but something that I didn't come to discover until a little later in life.
Be kind to yourself. You only have to reinvent yourself if what you now believe is causing you harm and unhappiness.
This is how you become authentic.