Updated: Nov 13, 2021
Changing THEIR mind isn’t the point!
Today our culture is “polarized.” There appears to be two choices. Both sides point at the other in horrified disbelief, asking, “After all that has been demonstrated that supports the Truth (our views), how can they still believe THAT?” This is not a new phenomenon. Our culture was polarized in the 70’s with the hippie culture and the Vietnam War. We were also polarized with race riots, women’s rights, the McCarthy Era, Prohibition, the Civil War, the Salem Witch Trials, and much more. Many of us, sadly, are still fighting the Civil War and hunting out the elitist witches of our day who drink the blood of children. How can we still believe that? There are enormous storms of disruption that run through our culture. We are certain each one is the one that will snuff out humanity’s existence. They rise up, shake us to our core, rearrange how things are, and then subside – or do they? Like the fires that rage in the West now, they do leave a trail of destruction that is deeply disturbing. Even so, changing the “other side’s” minds is not the point. There’s more important work to do.
How We Come To Believe
Changing our minds is easy. Changing our beliefs is excruciatingly difficult. I just completed my certification in Belief Clearing. There are many ways to undo limiting beliefs that block us from our own success. There are practices such as affirmations, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Creative Visualization, forgiveness work such as the H’oponopono Prayer, mindfulness, and many more. Facebook posts, interestingly, is not one of the ways. If anything, social media only serves to calcify our existing beliefs. The louder we explain, the more the opposing belief doubles down. Once we form a belief, we stop considering any alternative. In fact, we begin amassing all the proof that supports our belief, and we ignore or reject anything that does not. This fact alone explains how your insanely brilliant debunking of the other side’s delusions did not go viral and convert millions to your viewpoint overnight. Frankly, they aren’t even able to understand what you are saying. It is as if you were speaking a language they don’t understand – because you are. Beliefs change how we see the world. Many beliefs are formed in early childhood. An experience occurs, and we interpret it, forming a belief about ourselves and how the world operates. At this impressionable time of life, before our little brains are even fully formed, we decide if we are smart, stupid, talented, clumsy, strong, weak, beautiful, ugly, and even what it means to be conservative, liberal, moral, religious, etc. We receive positive and negative messages from those around us. Some we absorb and internalize, while others bounce off of us. These messages become our beliefs, and we cannot differentiate between our beliefs and who we are. When someone then challenges a belief, it feels as though our identity is being challenged.
How We Change A Belief
Beliefs can change. However, we rarely examine a belief until we become unbearably uncomfortable. This is true of individuals. It is also true of entire cultures.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, and expecting a different result. If a belief is a healthy (or neutral) one, our results are generally positive. If, however, it is a negative belief, such as I don’t deserve to feel loved and supported, this will play out in some painful, and often outright dangerous, life choices, such as abusive relationships. These choices reinforce the belief, until the individual reaches a breaking point.
The broken places are where the light gets in. ~ Rumi
Whether we are broken open, or at least curious about the possibility of a fresh reality, we can change our own beliefs any time we are ready. Beliefs change in a handful of ways, which include:
Replacing the harmful belief with a positive belief using affirmations or mantras
Surrounding ourselves with others who believe and act in accordance with a new belief
Practicing acting as if the old, limiting belief was untrue (even before we fully embrace the new belief fully)
Writing and speaking about our new belief with others who are receptive and supportive
Seeking out experiences and information that supports our new belief.
Each of these activities assumes that the individual (or culture) is ready to change a belief. Obviously, not every individual in a culture is ready to change a belief at the same time. Therefore, like our own minds, the cultural belief shifts in stages, with fierce stops and starts. It eventually reaches a tipping point, where more people believe in something new than not. In effect, the culture is “trying it on for size.”
There Is Still More To Heal
Conflict, upheaval, disruption and chaos are clear indications that a culture is changing its beliefs. If you think that’s hard for an individual, multiply that by millions. Not only that – our old, limiting beliefs don’t just disappear. They have left a deep groove in our psyche, and in times of stress we can fall right back into them. For more about how to navigate this, read my recent blog, Our Response-ability In Collective Trauma.
Rather than stuffing or denying an old belief, trying experiencing gratitude for what the belief has taught you. Many beliefs were formed out of self-protection, and, while they are not advantageous today, they certainly served a purpose at one time. Again, gratitude and even self-forgiveness, are powerful ways to remove the magnetic charge on our beliefs.
A sure way to hold a debilitating belief in place is to make harsh criticisms of yourself (or others) for the belief. Your judgment becomes a threat to the identity of the person holding the belief. Beliefs feel like a protective shield when we hold them. If you attack a belief, it feels like you are attacking the person, and they will either use the belief as a shield or a weapon against you – even if it is you arguing with yourself.
So, the point, when we see a belief that has reached its expiration date – either in us, or in our world – is to lean into our new belief. We must speak our new truth. We must surround ourselves with those who also are champions of our new truth. And we must practice living in our new truth in every way possible. When we do this, it is far more compelling than any argument we might make. We become the living example of what is possible.