Someone in my community emailed me last week and asked me to share my views on ingrained beliefs and conditioning. She wanted to know if they serve us (if so, which ones?) and should we work at changing them.
I love getting questions (seriously if there’s something you’re curious about, just ask!) so here’s how it looks to me.
Ingrained beliefs and conditioning are something every human being has. While the content of the beliefs and the specifics of the conditioning vary between cultures, religions, languages, upbringings and more, there’s no one that escapes meaning-making about the world they grew up in.
The beautiful, really hopeful thing about this understanding is that it points us away from the content of our thinking. Away from our beliefs, away from our opinions, away from our ideas and judgements and conditioning and towards one thing: what is universal.
Universally, we all have ingrained beliefs and we all have the in-built capacity for those beliefs to shift, change and disappear all on their own.
We see this all the time. People you knew from school that are totally different as adults are just one example.
Human beings are always changing. Sometimes in small, subtle ways. Sometimes in huge, holy-moly-who-is-this-person ways.
Change is built-in to the human system.
Fresh thinking is built-in to the human system.
Beliefs falling away is built-in to the human system.
So no, I would never, ever recommend to someone that they should work on changing them.
Mostly because it’s completely exhausting (and we all have better things to do with our time) but also because we don’t need to take on a job that’s already being done for us.
Your beliefs will change, if you let them. Your conditioning will have less importance on your life, if you allow it to.
Your ideas, preferences, opinions, judgements, affiliations, and concepts that seem so solid and real only look that way because we don’t see them for what they are…
In a million different forms, looking a million different ways, telling a million different stories.
Don’t some of our ingrained beliefs serve us?
I suppose it’s possible that some may… but overall no. Any concrete belief can’t hold a candle to the beautiful responsive intelligence we’re all made of.
It’s a bit like asking ‘do the files on my computer serve me and guide me to live my best life?’
While I suppose it’s technically possible that you got gifted some exceptionally brilliant files, it’s just never going to be as good as having access to the internet.
Wisdom is designed to live us, it’s the very thing breathing our lungs and beating our hearts as we read this.
It’s so much more helpful to look away from beliefs, away from the content of anything that goes on in our heads, and towards the fact that we are constantly connected to the psychological equivalent of the internet.
New thinking, solutions, possibilities, potential, perspective, insight, epiphanies… they’re all much better at serving us than our ingrained beliefs are.
The internet is inherently more helpful than a database, no matter how good a database might seem.
Perhaps most importantly, trying to sort, analyze, compare or ‘get to the bottom’ of our beliefs is a huge waste of time and energy. Ironically it often has the opposite effect of getting us more entrenched and confused.
I wasted too many years of my life trying to wrestle with thoughts and it’s always a lose-lose outcome.
Rather than trying to be aware of what you believe and try to judge if it’s helpful or not (please don’t attempt this) it’s far more helpful to see that everyone has beliefs, everyone has conditioning, it can all be there floating through our minds in various forms but we don’t need to take any of it seriously, agree with it or use it to guide our lives.
Like I said, it’s all simply energy. It’s in the process of changing by the time you notice it.
You don’t have to take anything you think seriously. Said another way, you don’t have to believe anything you think.
Let it all be there, let it all come and go, and know that the wisdom that’s living you will guide you effortlessly to what you need when you need it. It’s already taken care of, we can just relax and enjoy the ride!
With love and gratitude,