Most people’s beliefs go completely unquestioned and unexamined
It’s a bold statement I know.
But from the moment we are born, we are fed a lot of information. Right and wrong. Good and bad. Moral and immoral. The list goes on.
There’s no getting away from it. So long as we are around other human beings and engaging in life, we will be exposed to their thoughts, beliefs and opinions. And, we tend to ascribe meaning to everything rather naturally because it happens automatically.
Through our experience, we either confirm or discount what we’ve been shown or taught. Then, we keep reinforcing those beliefs through the stories we tell ourselves.
“See? I am ugly. Nobody likes me.”
This isn’t to negate our experiences. What happened, happened. But how we interpret those events is up to us. We can attach a meaning to it. We can also choose not to assign a meaning to it. But most of the time, we do.
My dad passed away in a motorcycle crash when I was 13. That’s a fact. That’s what happened.
What didn’t happen was all the meaning I and others attached to it. He’s in a better place. It’s not fair. He died too young. You’re the man of the house now.
You can live out those stories your whole life. I spent much of my 20s living out those stories. I worked hard to try to please a father that wasn’t even there.
Would my father be proud of me? I think so. But did I really live?
Our actions inevitably stem from those beliefs. Or, rather, they stem from the stories we’ve reinforced through repetition.
To question and examine our beliefs isn’t to decide whether they are good or bad. To decide whether something is good or bad is to ascribe meaning to it. Again, we can’t not assign a meaning to everything. It just happens.
Does this mean beliefs are fundamentally bad? No.
But we should allow ourselves the space to suspend those beliefs. Until we’ve tried something on for ourselves, we don’t know how it feels. It’s impossible to understand someone else’s beliefs or another way of looking at things unless we can get out of our own way.
It’s easy to say, “your beliefs are wrong!”
But we’re right back to where we started — attaching meaning to something that doesn’t inherently have any meaning. And, in this case, it’s attaching a meaning to something we don’t even understand.
How many of us can truly say we’ve adopted a new or different belief and lived it more than a handful of times?
“Oh yeah, I tried religion once. I didn’t work for me.”
You can’t try anything. You can only be it.
So, unless it’s a way of being, it’s hypothetical.
“It didn’t work for me” is a story. It’s a meaning. You gave it that meaning.
But out of nothing can come a space to create something.
I have a mentor who once said to me struggling is optional.
I now understand what he meant.
Yes, you may feel like you’re struggling. But that’s an interpretation of events. It’s not what happened. It’s how you’ve interpreted what happened.
So, is life meaningless?
I’m not going to answer that. I’m going to let you try it on.
But so long as we keep interpreting events, it gives us reason to become victims and beneficiaries of those events.
What if now was all there was?
In a very real sense, that’s all there is, right?
We don’t live yesterday. We don’t live tomorrow. We live now. We do not live in three distinct time frames.
How do we bring presence to this moment? By interpreting and adding meaning to everything? That keeps the mind chatter going.
You can’t bring your whole self to this moment swimming in a sea of meaning.
Does that sound like freedom to you?
The trouble is that we think everything needs to have a meaning. It doesn’t.
So, what’s the value in questioning and examining our beliefs?
Well, if you suspend those beliefs, as suggested, you create possibilities for yourself.
You realize that your thoughts about yourself and others don’t exist. And, from that space you can begin truly living life.