This is the going to be the last post on this topic and then I'm going to leave it alone for a while because I am honestly sick of it. I was talking to my sister last week and told her that I noticed a pattern-- mainly whenever I started writing or talking about a specific topic or had to give someone a certain message I would also have to live through whatever I was talking about. That said, in the past couple of weeks I have seen very clearly and not in a particularly comfortable way all the places that I continue to blame people and situations for things in my life instead of taking responsibility. It is not an easy lesson to put into practice and I feel like it probably takes a significant amount of time to continually root out things and then reshape them. I'm ready for a break from this particular set of lessons, so I'm going to keep this final part short and am only including it because I said I would and I am trying to get better at following through on things.
The topic for this post is:
Responsibility and Beliefs
When I talk about beliefs in this case I am referring to set religious beliefs but also personal beliefs about how things work, what has authority in a person's life, and what someone values. One of the things I learned that shifted my perspective and has helped me a great deal in the last few years is that I actually have control over my belief system. I used to think that there was some objective measure of "good" and "bad" or "right" or "wrong" and that if I could just figure out what that measurement was and understand it I would be able to be "good." Every time I tried to figure out what this system was and how it worked I found myself tangled up in contradictions and finally I became frustrated with the whole thing and admitted that I just didn't know.
I didn't know what was real. I didn't know what was right. I didn't know who to trust. All of it got twisted around because from one person's perspective one thing was right and from another person's perspective a different thing was right and I never seemed to know which side I should be on. However, realizing that I really didn't know what was real or right allowed me to look at perspectives that I had written off in the past saying they were: stupid or crazy or baseless or dangerous. When I actually listened to what people who believed in some different types of things had to say and didn't evaluate everything based on the system of reason and western philosophy that I had grown used to, I started to find that a lot of the things people said made sense to me. At first it scared me because I thought that believing in something different would make me crazy or thoughtless, but I kept wanting to understand more.
I'm not going to spend a lot of time here advocating for one belief system over another, I just want to say that what I found was that even if I still didn't know what was real or how to prove one thing or another I could change the framework of evaluation if I chose. Instead of worrying about what was "real" or "right" I started asking what was "helpful" in this particular moment and allowed myself to change my mind as often as I liked. The belief that I could choose beliefs based on the level of helpfulness rather than rightness and that I could change that belief whenever a new situation made it less helpful was a huge shift in my belief system. Prior to realizing that I thought that a person should figure out what was right and stick to that no matter what.
I'm not saying that this particularly loose sense of belief structure works for everyone, but it did make me aware of the fact that we all multiple beliefs which shape the way we interact with the world and even though we may have inherited those beliefs from our families, cultures, religions, or experiences we are still responsible for looking at them and deciding what parts to keep and what parts to let go of. From this I started to realize that just because people I knew believed that only employed people were worthy of certain items or experiences, for example, did not mean that I had to believe that. In fact I don't believe that. I believe all living creatures are worthy of a full and dignified life to the highest extent possible. Many people will disagree with this belief that I have, but that's okay. I'm not responsible for their belief, only for my own and for choosing to live as though I believe what I say I do or choosing to secretly believe it but never follow it.
There are other personal beliefs that I have now that I used to dismiss because I picked up the impression that they were wrong or dangerous. In fact, sometimes following them too closely can be a little dangerous so I try to mediate that appropriately, but when I looked at them I saw that though I needed to balance my adherence to them I still believed in them and would do my best to live by them as often as I could. (For anyone wondering the one I am thinking of most specifically is that people are basically good and trustworthy and therefore do not need to be feared). Anyway, being able to recognize what I believe and not always taking on other beliefs helps me to assess my own decisions and decide how much of a risk I am willing to take. It made me realize that I don't have to be scared of things just because other people are and that I don't have to live in a certain way just because other people think it is right. I get to decide what I think is right, or helpful or both and then decide how to apply that thought and under which circumstances I wish to apply which value. This has been really empowering for me and a lot of the anxiety I used to feel has started to fade.
That's all for now. The next topic will be a new one.
Thanks for reading,