Isn’t it strange how time changes perceptions, beliefs and actions. Today in some states you may be arrested if you sell candy cigarettes to children, leave dog droppings on your front lawn, or allow your child to point fingers like a handgun in a public place. When I was growing up we would have been shocked to imagine this as we loved “smoking” candy cigarettes, had our dogs and cats run wild, and played “shoot ’em up” games all the time-each of us taking turns dropping dead from the shots!!!!
I am not suggesting that any of these ideas are worth re-creating but what it does bring to mind is that many ideas or activities that we accept without question may end up being useless, harmful or ridiculous when looked at with a different mindset or viewpoint. I find myself reacting when a strong belief I have taken for granted is challenged or questioned and yet when I step back and listen to another perspective I either realize I no longer feel as strongly about the topic as I once did or I acknowledge that I still want to hold onto an old belief in spite of mainstream change (for example I still like a hard copy newspaper even though they are outdated and waste resources!)
Laws, beliefs, and cultural norms are open to change with new information, experiences, or research and thus it is important for our own growth and peacefulness that we have a way of “rolling with change” and remaining flexible without sacrificing our personal values. How do we do this? Here is a process to consider when faced with a conflict regarding a long held belief or behavior:
1. Listen without judgement to another viewpoint or perspective without being ready to defend your position immediately. Try to see another’s position and consider looking at the idea through their eyes. Do not react, just listen to the thoughts and words without forming an opinion.
2. Feel the feelings that you have when you consider the idea. Ask yourself what you notice in your body: fear, shame, disappointment, anger, sadness, exhilaration, guilt—-what is coming out for you. This may give an indication of how important this idea is to you.
3. Consider where you learned this idea, who shared it with you the first time, how long have you believed this, what would you lose by changing or keeping this perspective? Would someone else be affected if you changed your perspective?
4. What values does this idea or belief hold for you? Have your values changed from the time you adopted this idea? If you have changed, then consider how your old perspective is serving you or holding you back.
5. Decide how you will integrate a new way of being, new thinking, or if it is just fine to hold onto your previous beliefs.
Not every change is a good idea. But change is inevitable and many things we take for granted today (like health approaches) will continue to evolve. Becoming more conscious of what we believe, do and value is important. Also staying aware of what old behavior could get you arrested is critical!!!!!