Tag belief system


“[...] How I would like to take command of my situation, to entertain myself with enlightened thought, to heroically forget pain and fear, to keep control.  Perhaps that kind of heroism exists only in novels.  If there is any enlightenment that I have been awakened to, it is that men’s minds are dominated by their little aches and pains.  We want to think that we are more than that, that we control our lives with our intellect.  But now, without civilization clouding the issue, I wonder to what extent intellect is controlled by instinct and culture is the result of raw gut reactions to life.  I was brought up with the idea that I could do anything, be anything, survive anything.  I want to believe it, try to believe it.”

- Steven Callahan, Adrift


In February of 2010 I wrote an article entitled Victim of Changes where I explored three contrasting perspectives of how one views positive and negative events as they relate to the broader context of their life.

Since then, I’ve recently discovered a trend; those who say that “everything happens for a reason” has experienced some significant pain or trauma.  While I am sure there are exceptions to this claim, I can’t think of a reason why someone would use this phrase if they had not gone through this type of experience.

From my perspective, it’s an interesting contradiction – by causing pain, God has, in some respect, prompted (forced?) these individuals to believe in him (or at least in some higher authority or plan).  This, I think, has always been a struggle for me.

I mention this particular phrase primarily because it resurfaced the other day in a lunch meeting with a past colleague.  Later on, that comment prompted me to think about what has happened and where I am in my life today.

But is this where I am “supposed” to be? “Supposed” assumes there is a predestined path for me (and for others).

For argument’s sake, if there was truly such a path, does emotion still play a role?  For example, if adversity strikes, does it benefit you (or anyone for that matter) to feel sad or angry about it?  If adversity was part of “the plan” it ultimately doesn’t matter what you feel about it – “it just is.”

Think about it. If you truly believe that there is a higher authority and that “everything happens for a reason” then at some level, negative emotion should not exist in your life.  If something bad should happen to you, “that’s life!” and you should quickly (and naturally) move on to the next chapter, next relationship, etc. void of any negative emotion or lingering concerns / doubt.

At some level it’s a utopian existence.  After all, in this frame of mind you’ll feel good all the time!  (“it’s part of the plan!”)  But of course, the emotional disconnect will be there; when unfortunate events occur, your lack of emotion may prompt the question “Do you even care?” to which you’ll naturally reply “Care about what?”

Using the phrase “everything happens for a reason” is a logical response to a nebulous, confusing and sometimes painful life path.  It’s another example of why the human dynamic is so complex; using logic to rationalize the unexplained, but subsequently claiming that “logic” has no place in one’s life – i.e. “life planning is meaningless”, “don’t analyze, just enjoy ..”, etc.

I can, of course, see the partial foolishness in this argument.  One is going to feel certain emotions regardless of their belief in a higher authority or “master plan.”  And, at some level, you almost have to believe that there is a predefined destiny for you.  Not believing this in some capacity can result in emotional and physical stagnation.

As of me, history will dissuade me from using this particular phrase, but my replacement belief is a combination of the following:

  1. Anything is possible.
  2. A belief in oneself is perhaps the most important religion of them all.

Resilience VI – Closing Thoughts

As you have seen, the ABC resilience methodology is useful to map out and truly understand your beliefs and whether those same beliefs are working for or against you in your daily life.  The example that I shared about my dog was based around a belief that was clearly flawed, and thus a deeper investigation through the Q&A approach allowed me to ultimately understand and change this belief.  It also allowed me to uncover what the authors call “hidden icebergs” that can steer one’s thought processes and behavior in unique ways.  My concern about being able to achieve an effective work-life balance in the future was one such iceberg.

The first and third examples, while triggered by different adversities, both ended up in the same place; my feelings of frustration / sadness was tied directly to the role in which I was operating, and the subsequent lack of control that I needed to “survive” – or so I believed.

While these feelings are perhaps “natural”, my challenge was to alter my belief structure so that the resulting consequences (negative emotions) could be cast aside – leaving greater “room” for positive change.

But these changes need to be based in reality as well – simply changing my perspective to “this job is great, what am I thinking!” is an inappropriate response.  A more suitable belief system is “this role is not exactly what I am looking for, but it is bringing in income and I can start to look at other opportunities that make the most effective use of my skills” or some derivation thereof.

Of course, while the solution is clear on paper, it’s not as easy to correct – but mapping out this thought process in concrete form allows one to obtain a grasp on the situation that enables more constructive thought processes to develop.

And to be clear, this methodology is not always required in an explicit sense.  In many circumstances, a quick glance at the standard B-C connections will allow you to see why you feel a certain way and whether the underlying beliefs are appropriate in a given situation.

The key is to understand what beliefs are working in your life and which are not.

Resilience III – Core Belief System

“Life can be all too brief, so we must reach out for opportunities when they present themselves.  To do this, you need to better understand the kind of person you are and take control of the forces that, even now, are shaping the future “you.”  Armed with the knowledge of who you are and who you want to be, you can create meaning in your life.  You can do this by using the resilience skills to develop more intimacy with those you love, to fill your life with purpose and meaning via your work or involvement in the community.  You can also use the skills to take on new challenges.”

While the origins of Incubator were based upon loss, it ultimately allowed me to begin understanding who I am and what I want out of my life.  While not yet completely true, the process of documenting my experiences and thought patterns has allowed me to remove many of the negative emotions that comes with loss.  It was this removal that ultimately enabled the end of Incubator and the beginning of Territories.

While the process of healing can, and does, ultimately end, self-exploration does not.  It is created as one experiences new things throughout his or her life.  Coincidentally, self-exploration is an essential part of being resilient.

With the creation of The Visual Journey and the initiation of Immersion, I have a clear understanding of who I am and the experiences that got me here.  But what’s missing is an in-depth analysis of my core belief system.

Thus, one of the areas that I will be focusing on in the weeks and months to come is understanding, and challenging my core beliefs.  Some of my beliefs may fit naturally while others (i.e. those that are not making my life better) require replacement.

Furthermore, some beliefs are centralized to my professional life, while others span both work and play.  Also, some beliefs will be easy to uncover while others may require further analysis.

Future experiences aside, I believe this next step will enable me to truly understand my identity, my role in the world, and will ultimately increase my resilience.