Reexamine all that you have been told in school, or in church or in any book. Dismiss whatever insults your soul. ~Walt Whitman
Dear old Walt has it right. We internalize what we’re told and what we’re taught from childhood on, in school, in church, by our parents, and our peers. We know intellectually that we are a sum of our experiences, but we don’t often stop to question whether what we’ve been told feels right for us.
Taking the time to reexamine some of our beliefs through the filter of whether they “insult our soul,” can provide great insight into the areas of our lives where we feel stuck, frustrated, or discontent. Think about all of the “truths” you believe.
Do they resonate with who you are now? Or do they feel a bit like someone else’s standards?
It may sound a bit like we’re embarking on a New Age journey to enlightenment, but it’s really just learning to think for ourselves, to take ownership of the ideas that are “ours” and to discard the ideas that were pushed into our brains, but really belong to someone else.
Learn to question what you have been told or taught
The most obvious place to look, of course is in our political and religious beliefs, but what about other more subtle messages…
Which careers are “legitimate” and which aren’t
What constitutes a “waste of time”
What a good marriage looks like and what the defined roles are
What makes someone a “good parent
What exemplifies an appropriate work ethic
How money should be managed and how much we need to be making a “good living”
Our standards of organization, cleanliness, health, and beauty
What goals and dreams qualify as appropriate for us and which are foolhardy “pipe dreams”
Self-examination can be scary. We might be afraid of what we’ll find, but the valuable insights into our limitations and obstacles, our successes and failures, all those things that stand in the way of our goals, is well worth a little discomfort. Don’t you think?
Do you have any insights to share?