I want to talk about belief, and the loss of belief, because I think that this can be one of the scariest and most difficult things to endure.
Beliefs, whether secular, religious, New Age or whatever, are the corner stone of our conscious lives. They inform our thoughts, actions, interactions and our choices. They can be uplifting or debilitating, liberating or imprisoning.
Beliefs, and our relationships with them, are complex.
Last year I lost a lot of my beliefs and let me tell you, it was the most disorienting, frightening, grief-stricken experience of my life. But, it has also been the most empowering and liberating.
Most of our beliefs are accumulated from the beliefs of others: your priest, parents, friends or favourite author, for example. As children we are taught certain things and most of us don’t know any different in order to question these teachings. (Sadly, too often we are actively taught not to question anything at all!)
For me this happened not so much in childhood, but rather as I started on my spiritual journey in my late teens. I was curious and excited, but also naive. I found comfort in certain authors and spiritual leaders, and took their word verbatim as the real truth. Without realising it, I wasn’t just being inspired by these people, I was adopting their way and their beliefs as the only way and the only true teachings. Ironic, considering I was severely repulsed by dogmatic religious systems!
Eventually, a few of these beliefs that I had created into the pillars of my life did not stand the test against my real life experiences. My notion of a “life purpose” has been called into question, swiftly followed by a cascade failure of other linked and supporting beliefs. To be honest, I am still reeling from this and struggling with the grief of this loss. The challenge life threw at these beliefs has caused me to question almost everything, but it is in this questioning that I have found empowerment and liberation.
Losing my support structure was unnerving, but I didn’t collapse with it. Yes, I was disoriented, confused and freaking out, but I was still standing. And it was through these forceful blows to my beliefs that I suddenly had enough distance to look at them with clarity and see what no longer supported or served my growth. Because, here’s the thing: we are always growing and evolving. Our life circumstances are always changing. This is a GOOD thing. Nobody wants a stagnant life.
Sometimes we are so immersed in our lives and our beliefs that we can’t see things clearly. We can’t see the forest for the trees, as it were. Our thought and behaviour patterns become so ingrained that we lose perspective on them. And so it can be a shocking and rude awakening when your perspective does suddenly start to shift. But, when you do start to question things, that is when you can start to create your life on your terms.
A couple of weeks ago I was listening to a Lewis Howe’s School of Greatness podcast episode that featured Jonathan Fields. Jonathan made a statement that really drove home to me how OK it was that I had started to lose and question so much of my earlier beliefs:
“The moment you lock into certainty about your beliefs is the moment you stop growing.”
So, although the initial triggers that force you to question or shed your beliefs can be incredibly painful, losing one’s beliefs isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it is important to constantly review your beliefs, and allow them to evolve if they no longer serve you. It is an opportunity for growth and discovery.
Your interaction with the world and the Universe (however you perceive that to be) is a unique and personal one and therefore doesn’t have to be circumscribed or determined by the terms, definitions or beliefs of another person or system.
How you perceive or live your life is up to you.