Saturday, May 31, 2008

topic from a meeting

picture by Ryan Sawhill

This evening I was reminded of one of my old beliefs, one that I had nurtured and stroked most of my life. I say old with a sense of hope...because I have found beliefs that I thought I had discarded somehow back in my mind and actions without ever seeing it return.

The belief is: that I cannot learn from others; their mistakes, experience, advice, etc...That I have to make the mistakes myself. This had always been my m.o., from the earliest time I can remember. Of course, as children there is a phase where we do this simply to form our own identity, to separate ourselves from our parents, and I definitely did that. Rebelliousness fit like a tailored suit, and the admonitions from others always came couched with an off-handed praise in my early years.

"Now you're very smart, but _______ is going to cause you problems if you keep it up."

A hundred different variations of that warning were hurled my way, starting in my elementary school days, and I rarely remember taking a single one seriously. I was constantly falling down, constantly running into walls. Repeatedly, as I look back now, exactly what others predicted would happen did-and I just continued right on with my attitude of disregard. This attitude was enforced by a firm sense of entitlement, a belief that the world owed me something, and so I found a thousand scapegoats for my actions and failures without ever fully recognizing the prophetic warnings that were constantly leveled at me.

By the time I was aware enough to see my behavior with some sort of honest (I use that term VERY loosely) self-appraisal. I came up with the above stated belief to explain it. I just couldn't learn from others. It was how I had always been. Just the way it was. Just the way I was. I even tried to justify it by saying that I was "questioning truths" and not just taking everything that was told me without finding out for myself. My mind was playing tricks on itself.

I gave so much credence to that belief, as I said I coddled it and nursed it, reinforced as it was by so many other people around me who said the same thing about themselves, that I was a little surprsied when one day it was challenged. Someone just said "Bull___. Quit using that as an excuse for your behavior and laziness."

Ouch. But he continued, pointing out countless instances in my life that showed me grasping a concept that I only vaguely had experienced for myself, based upon what other people had told me. "Do you know what that is called?" he asked me, hesitating as I screwed up my face and honestly tried to think of the answer. I couldn't, and he told me. "Maturity."

There is so much that could be said along this topic...but I am just postulating the idea, the mere possibility, that an idea such as "I have to experience it myself to learn/understand/believe it" is extremely self-limiting. And I found for myself that it was an extremely easy (because they don't always go quietly!) belief to discard.

I DO learn from others mistakes. I listen to what those who appear to have gone before me share. I try to limit my use of the expression "I know"---because I don't know. But today I am open to the possibility that somebody does know, and I like to look for that experience when facing my life.

1 comment:

ryran said...

Well said, well said.
That's really awesome that it was so easyish for you to discard that belief.

PS: Just now catching up wit yo blog.