A few years ago a friend asked me a Rabbit Hole Question, What do you believe in? I hesitated. Because saying, offering, committing to a belief is a big deal. It may attach me to something. It may define or limit me. What if something in me changes tonight to alter that belief?
She became upset when I had to think about it. She wanted to know that we shared beliefs, that I could be trusted as an ally and friend. I finally blabbered something like I believe in the power of love. She really wanted to know how I felt about God. That’s a Rabbit Warren.
Now in the time of Covid and protests, we have entered a warren of conflicting, confusing, and questionable beliefs. This is creating more anxiety and rifts in relationships than we can afford right now. So I created some principles to help me navigate.
* A belief is a guiding perspective we hope contains truth.
* We operate on our beliefs every hour, every day.
* A belief may hold a partial truth contradictory to another belief and partial truth.
* Living a conscious and healthy life requires we observe and calibrate our beliefs.
It’s fairly easy to accept that we choose and change our perspectives. So seeing a belief as a perspective is a helpful transition to seeing that we choose and can change our beliefs.
I say hope because a perspective/belief can be ill-informed or immature. Just look to human history for plenty of examples. Beliefs can be upgraded.
The second principle is easy to get. Since we use our beliefs continuously to guide our actions, work toward the upgrades. Be conscious and careful about where we source information. Be selective about friendships, and for heaven’s sake cut off negative and abusive conversations.
The notion of partial truth is a helpful tool from Integral Theory, easiest to see in human development. As a child, my truth is that parents exist to take care of me. As a teenager, truth may shift: my parents exist so I can rebel. As an adult, truth shifts again and again as we all age. All perspectives contain a partial truth; the whole truth about why parents exist is complex. The beauty here is that no one is ‘wrong.’
Beliefs and truths shift, and that is normal and necessary. You see why I hesitate to say what I believe? Tomorrow may bring circumstances or information to change everything.
This is all a buttress to the fourth principle, which you see me writing about all the time. My invitation is to observe our beliefs a little more carefully. And notice how attached we are to them, because that is what will obstruct the necessary upgrades, the recalibration.
In the meantime, let’s believe in the power of anything that brings you hope, joy, and peace. We need it.