02 September 2016

I Believe

Your basic energy signature is the sum of all your thoughts and beliefs.  You define your personality, physical attributes, and behavior.  You are the only one who can create or change your thoughts and your beliefs.  And your beliefs create what you experience as life.    -Bruce I. Doyle III
We've been talking in one of our classes about beliefs--how we develop them, why we defend them, what they mean to us. With first-year college students, their beliefs are still very strong because the students are at an age at which they feel that they're right about most things, but they're also very fragile because the students are constantly being exposed to new ideas, concepts, and information. It's fascinating and rewarding to be able to work with people of this age, and even more so when we're able to explore topics such as beliefs, in which they're extremely interested.

One of the things that we discuss is whether or not it's possible to live life without beliefs. Personally, I'm pretty sure that the fewer beliefs that I have, the more smooth and enjoyable my life is. I've found over the years that my beliefs always limit me and never open up my mind or heart. They limit my actions, they limit my reactions, and they cause me to judge and to reject and to accept. They help me to form biases, and they force me to reject new information because it may conflict with what I "believe."

One of the saddest things that I've noticed is that as I've changed my beliefs, I've recognized the things that I've rejected in the past that I would accept now, based on my new beliefs. That's why I want them out of my life--I can't trust them. If my belief causes me to treat another person or group of people in ways that are less than loving and compassionate, then those beliefs are damaging to me, not helpful, for the way that I treat others because of the beliefs is not the way that I want to be treating others.

Can I let go of all my beliefs? It sounds like a daunting task that has little chance of success, when all is said and done. But can it be done? I believe so. But it's going to take a lot of self-examination, day after day, of my motivations for doing things--am I saying this because I really feel it at the moment, or am I saying it as a result of a certain belief? Did I say I don't want to get together with that person because I really can't or don't want to, or because that person challenges a particular belief of mine? And as I examine and identify more beliefs, perhaps one day I'll be able to free myself of them and see the world with unsullied eyes--eyes that accept the world with wonder and passion rather than eyes that judge and categorize based on a belief that may or may not be valid.

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