Shattering Belief Systems

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Today, there are opportunities to investigate our patterns of sabotage, our thinking and our mindset. We can deeply explore our relationships — to ourselves, to others, to the universe and to prosperity. We can observe how and why we create drama and chaos in our lives and why it’s necessary to release certain people and situations to find peace.

But how often do we take time to examine our beliefs — how and why we’ve brought them into our lives and why it’s necessary to release them, as well?

For years, I suspended my disbelief regarding things I had been told. It seemed like the easiest thing to do to maintain the approval of my parents, my peers and the entire world around me. As a child, I held on to the idea of Santa Claus longer than even I thought was reasonable, because I wanted to believe so badly that he existed. I grasped onto the idea of hope until I finally realized that what I really needed was to take action. And once I chucked Santa and hope out the door, it was open season to take the Belief Systems (BS) meter to everything I had ever taken at face value.

One of the things I pondered was why all of my running coaches told me and my teammates to eat bananas to avoid muscle cramps. Why? Because bananas are high in potassium, which aids in muscle contraction and balancing electrolytes. My coaches believed what most people believe: that bananas are extremely high in potassium. If we didn’t like them, we were told to eat them anyway.

When I took nutrition in college, I found out that bananas are high in potassium, but so are most fruits and vegetables. In fact, you can get more potassium in a serving of celery, baked potato, sweet potato, kiwi, pumpkin, dates, beets, bok choy, bamboo shoots, parsnips and pomegranate than you do in a banana. You get twice as much potassium in avocados, lima beans and winter squash.

I felt a bit duped to learn this fact and later researched the internet to figure out the possible reason why the majority of people believe it is the food highest in potassium. I discovered that in the 1990s, a Chiquita Banana commercial claimed the fruit is “rich in potassium.” From there, I supposed that people simply exaggerated its potassium levels. It was a stellar marketing maneuver, regardless if they knew what the effects would be.

Tearing down such a simple concept held by most people makes everything fair game. And at the same time, it opens up millions of possibilities. Recently, a friend of mine told me there were freshwater whales in Lake Superior and there are also whale watching tours. While information diverges on this topic, I choose to withhold my agreement that there are, yet keep the possibility open that there might be.

It certainly seems that life would be easier if we entertained the idea of “myths,” rather than take everything literally and hold tight to them as “beliefs” from which we navigate our lives.

Realize that people can tell you whatever they want to, and most of what they say is less than accurate because people are focused on the past or the future — or information is based upon their own perceptions, which slightly alter the truth. The information they give you is skewed by their memories and their ideals and beliefs. Realize, as well, that we hear what people say with our own interpretation. As time passes, these interpretations and memories change. Like the potassium levels in bananas, things get exaggerated.

How do you know what to believe?

It is up to us to filter all of the information we take in on a daily basis and figure out what we want to accept and what we choose to deny. What are we simply agreeing with to be agreeable? What are we buying into as fact and why? How are we suspending our beliefs by upholding rhetoric and dogma? Why are we arguing for or against beliefs that we have no opportunity to prove or disprove? Is it simply to agree? To buy into something? To argue?

What other beliefs do you hold — or hold yourself to? How have you trapped your mind or your character into a box? Do you fear the dark? Spiders? Speaking in public? Being in the woods alone for a week? Do you hate the rain and cold weather? Do you believe that Mondays are “bad” and Fridays are “good?” That the grass is always greener somewhere else? That certain things are hard to accomplish because others have told you that? That you’ll die at seventy or eighty years old because most people do? Do you strive to meet the body image ideals the fashion industry has airbrushed into reality? How have you locked yourself into the gender role society gave you? How have you bought into the time constraint of your mind? How have you bought into the media’s fear tactics? How have you bought into your “reality” or your existence?

Think about all the things you do on a daily basis. Why do you do them? Is it because you’ve carefully chosen to do those things or because it’s what you’ve been taught to do? Are you aware of the words you speak? Do you carefully censor the thoughts you think? Do you pick out the things you love and the things you fear — or did you willingly or unwittingly pick them up from your culture?

Realize that in accepting or denying a belief, you expend energy. You use energy to buy into a belief, to uphold a belief, to suspend your disbelief and to argue for or against a belief. And it requires energy to carry those beliefs with you each and every day. If these beliefs aren’t even something you’ve consciously considered to be true for you, that’s an awful lot of wasted energy that you didn’t even choose to waste.

But imagine the idea of pondering legends and myths and the powerful lessons that come with them. The idea of Santa Claus and fairy godmothers can always be entertained, as long as we don’t attach to them as beliefs.

Go beyond the precepts of your culture. Break the mold of what society expects of you. Examine your beliefs and shatter those that you no longer choose to uphold.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Although I have never heard of this author, I really appreciate Miss Reiter’s perspective on personal change and expelling drama from relationships. Reiter delves deep into the human psyche, challenging our expectations and offering a philosophy that inspires the sojourner to rise above the pettiness of pessimism to live life to the fullest. In addition to adding her own thought provoking and original insights, Reiter demonstrates an authoritative voice, inspiring presence, strength of heart, and clear command of the literature of transformation.

  2. This is an interesting and pragmatic discussion of knowledge versus speculation. Two major influences on Western culture, Christianity and science, both heavily emphasize knowledge (absolute faith in the case of religion, approximation of truth through experimentation in the case of science). But much of our everyday world is filled with loosely held notions. I laugh at certain people who don’t use microwaves because they believe they are somehow bad for our health. I, on the other hand, just as spuriously think Mercuries are superior to Toyotas. And that’s okay, as long was we realize that much of these ‘facts’ are more like hunches. And many habits, like coffee drinking, are neither true nor false but simply inherited from our culture. And that’s okay too, as long as they don’t inprison us within certain ways of acting and thinking.

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