I wanted to write something about challenging your viewpoint. This has been really important for me in terms of growth.
It wasn’t until I was about 25 that I realized a lot of the beliefs I had at that point weren’t actually my beliefs. They were beliefs given to me by my parents, my peers, or society as a whole. Once I realized this, it was quite refreshing. It meant I could look at my whole belief system and reassess what I actually wanted. Put back in the good bits. And get rid of the bits that were doing me no favours.
It started with little things. Comments people made. I started to question whether I agreed with them or not (I always wonder if I was about five years later than everyone else on this – 25 seems kind of old to be starting to question what you know! Maybe I’m a late bloomer…)
Once I started questioning the silly little things, it was easy enough to question the big things. Things that people hold as “undoubtable”, or “true” 🙂
I wanted to jot down some ideas we are “told” (by the media, government, advertising, teachers, family, whoever), to get you thinking about what you really believe.
A quick exercise
Read the statements below. Think whether you actually agree with them, or if it’s something you’ve been told, or you assumed. If it’s the latter, where did this assumption come from? And is it actually true?
Of course, I am playing devil’s advocate. You can probably see my slant on some of the viewpoints 🙂 Others I’m not even sure what I think. Most of them I have heard people say (or insinuate), and it made me think, “Hey – I call bullshit!”
Despite what I’ve said above, there isn’t a right or wrong answer to any of these. It’s a personal choice. Hooray for freedom of speech, choice, and the wonder of the human brain that allows us to even consider these things!
I just want to get you thinking a bit more. Is there something you have always believed, but never questioned?
Is there anything on this list that you held as undeniably true, but you’re not sure why?
Whatever your answer, can you say why you believe this?
Maybe have a chat about it with your friends – a dinner conversation starter?! (It reminds me of those games you get for evening conversation starters at events – my old company had one recently and it turns out that all the awkward questions about kinky sex etc., went to the most old-fashioned, fustiest, most serious trustees etc… it couldn’t have worked out better if we’d tried!)
A starter list of popular beliefs… do you agree with them?
- Dropping out of high school will ruin your life.
- Media reports are accurate.
- It is worth getting into debt for a university degree.
- Successful people are rich.
- If you don’t have a job, you are a failure.
- If someone cuts you up in the car, you should get angry.
- People should respect you.
- If you’re in on a Friday and Saturday night consecutively, you are boring.
- The more you fit into your day, the more successful you are.
- If you complete a rigorous competition like a marathon, triathlon etc., you have achieved more than other people.
- Rich people are successful.
- Everyone needs a pension.
- If you’re female and you don’t have children by the age of 35, you have left it too late.
- People who don’t drink are boring.
- It’s fine to moan about something just for the sake of it, without doing anything about it.
- Busy people win.
- People who have been in jail are bad people.
- You can’t survive nowadays without a mobile phone.
- You’re odd if you don’t know about the latest Hollywood movies.
- It’s better to be extroverted than introverted.
- It’s a waste to leave a profession you’ve been training in for years.
- Being rich(er) is the main goal.
- Modern movies about people’s lives are factually accurate and researched.
- You can tell everything about a person just by their appearance.
- It’s stupid to quit your job without another job to go to.
- If you haven’t met a partner by the age of 40, it’s unlikely to happen.
- People are generally stupid. Or rude. Or both.
- It’s weird if you don’t watch TV.
- You can visit a country for a day, and pretty much get a feel for what it’s like.
- You can’t change your personality.
- People who read a lot are boring.
- Life is meant to be hard.
- Your partner should understand you all the time.
- Being stressed is a natural consequence of having to get a lot of things done in a short space of time – there’s nothing you can do about it.
- Once you have decided on a viewpoint, you shouldn’t change it – that makes you weak.
- You shouldn’t admit to your failures.
Are there are other widely-held beliefs that we should question more? Let me know and I’ll add them to the list!
What do you disagree with in your head, even though everyone else seems to agree with it?
Be bold in your thinking! There is no penalty in life for changing your mind 🙂