The other day I got to thinking about what it must be like to hold onto beliefs. I’d never considered this before because I’m constantly revisiting my beliefs to work out if they still apply to my life given the information at hand. When I imagined what it must be like to have beliefs that stop you from living an awesome life I saw a mind walled off by bricks. It made me want to shout, “NOOOOOO!”
Stuff changes ALL the time and it’s really not worth holding onto ideas that no longer work for you. That’s actually a great recipe for unhappiness. Petula is a character I created to demonstrate what it must be like to live with beliefs that have never been challenged. Petula is certain that she’s right ALL the time, even though the evidence often contradicts what she believes. Gees, she must get tired from constantly having to defend her beliefs. This is what she looks like when something comes up that she doesn’t agree with:
When something goes wrong in Petula’s life she can’t accept that it might be because she’s applying a narrative fallacy, in which she is imagining a logical link where one doesn’t exist. And, she’s doing this because she has false beliefs about the world. Instead, if she looked at what she believed and saw that it wasn’t actually true (based on the information at hand), she could deal with it differently and wouldn’t have to blame her shit on other people:
Here’s some beliefs that I once had, but have changed because I grew as a person.
Hard work trumps everything – I always believed that if I worked really hard at something I’d get there in the end. This isn’t actually true 100% of the time because there are other factors at play that are out of my control. These factors can influence my success. Being in the right place at the right time can often make all the difference and this has nothing to do with how hard a person works. Getting rid of this belief allowed me to stop berating myself for not trying hard enough or telling myself that there was something wrong with me. Sure, I still do everything to the best of my ability, but if I can’t achieve a goal I rework the goal instead of blaming everything on myself, which only results in apathy in the end, and apathy never motivated anyone to do anything.
Everything happens for a reason – I held onto this one for a long time. It was a story I told myself about the way the world works so that I could understand the randomness of existence. The fact is, existence is largely random and there really is no reason behind much of what happens. What we do with the outcomes of situations is what defines the ultimate reason for an event. Getting rid of this belief relieved me of the burden of searching endlessly for meaning.
Stuff in the media is true – I guess I got this from my dad and I also banished this belief because of him. When he died the newspaper wrote a story about him which wasn’t true at all. This was a big shock to me because I’d never once stopped to think that newspapers make shit up. Getting rid of this belief really ignited my critical awareness. It changed the relationship I have with television, radio and the internet. Nowadays I don’t watch TV and don’t listen to any news stories at all. What’s the point of consuming news? It’s only ever negative and now I know that much of it probably isn’t even true.
I can’t run – I believed this for forty years! The fact is, I can actually run and have been doing just that since 2016. It was hard at first, and sometimes it’s still hard, but mostly I love it. Getting rid of this belief opened the door to feeling like I totally own my life; my health, my appearance and my attitude. I’m fitter now than I have ever been and I also look better now than I did when I was 22.
I don’t want to be like Petula. I don’t want to blame my problems on other people. I don’t want to do this:
Saying goodbye to some beliefs is hard. I think I struggled most with the belief that friendships are meant to last forever. That was something that I’d been indoctrinated with since early childhood. Even close friends (like besties) come and go and I’ve learned that just because you’ve been best mates with someone for more than twenty years, doesn’t mean they won’t run a country mile when the chips are down. But, this is a perfect example of how to apply new evidence to a belief and call it into question.
Don’t be like our friend Petula:
Don’t shoot yourself in the foot for the sake of your beliefs