THE ORIGIN OF OUR BELIEFS
PART I: DERIVATIVES FROM EVOLUTION
UNDERSTANDING THESE WILL REDUCE THE STRESS IN YOUR LIFE AND HAVE YOU BE HAPPIER
ALOT OF IT IS MADE UP - AND NOT CORRECT
In life, we humans "make up stuff" to explain things and/or to work in accordance with some reality. The only problem is that the stuff we make up is not always true and/or accurate.
This discussion takes off from there to explain how our cultural beliefs and lores come about. Part of this exploration is to determine how we can apply this understanding to our lives - in order to reduce and/or eliminate:
1. Many fears and
2. Much wasted time conforming to beliefs that do not serve us
THE STORY OF HOW THESE WERE CREATED
Anyway, cooperating with others and being safe with others was a cause for us "feeling good". So, we derived ways to stimulate those chemicals that had us feel good. Some of the ways we derived were not based entirely on fact, but because we believed that they would feel good whenever we did them we would generate those good feelings.
We even started to have pets become like part of the family, almost as surrogate children. Although our survival certainly did not depend on their survival - at least not with regard to cats, though in ancient times there could have been some protective effect of dogs - we received some of the same good feelings - and when they died we often would feel very, very bad - out of some feeling of connection and because of how important they were to ourselves and out of the felt loss of being able to get those good feelings in interacting with them.
We even made it up that our dogs and/or cats "loved" us. That wasn't actually true at a higher level of love, as they were simply dependent and loved to get the food and affection that made them feel good.
THEN WE MADE UP SOME SOCIAL LORE...
Because it was so meaningful to our surviving by having a tribe of loyal members, we developed a system that worked in the context of the ancient days. By being in a tribe, we were protected from wild animals and attackers of the human kind.
We even got benefits of more procreation partners and tribal "respect" by being at the higher level of what is called "social status". As monkeys, our predecessors, we even today suffer when we are of lower status - and we get a dose of chemicals that make us feel bad that cause us to try to resolve the situation. As we get past the "mid-level" of status, we get more positive chemicals for each gain or benefit we get from being at the higher status. (See Solving The Social Status Problem - Another "Enough" Problem.) We even have chemicals that come from our primitive brain's recognition that there are certain body shapes that are better for successful procreation and raising of children (so that our genes are passed on through the generations. We are "attracted" to them. We make up today that we are "in love" and that love makes it all ok, even if the potential partner is a real rascal or even a "bad boy". (We mistake the "bad boys" for being more powerful, which was, indeed, a good trait for survival in ancient days but is much less important today - yet it persists in "folk lore" or "cultural beliefs" passed down through the generations.) See The Biochemistry Of Love - Seeking To Perpetuate The Species.
So... to continue on...
We also believe that if we do certain things we will feel better or less bad. And that is true to some extent, because if we believe it will make us feel better it often feels better simply because we equate it to something that feels better. If I get approval from someone, it does feel good - it's automatic, built-in to our biology. If I help someone (such as doing a random act of kindness), I will feel good, both from a simple biological impulse or instinct and by thinking, consciously or not, "well, I am a good person because I am doing this and therefore the other members of the tribe will approve of me, believing I am good for the tribe and can be counted on, so now I have a better chance of survival". (Sounds ridiculous, but look at the level of emotion we feel about certain things that don't actually threaten our survival but to which we react highly - which is only a level of response that is related to our survival being threatened. See Why We Do What We Do And How To Remove The negative Part Of That.)
Those are all "good-feeling" - and we often label those actions as "being good actions" or good behavior, but...
BUT WE'VE GONE TOO FAR...
That's all fine, but... we have carried it too far and failed to discriminate relative to what actually benefits us substantially and what has virtually no benefit and should be replaced with something of more value. We have also carried this to "extremus" by making the lack of getting approval or whatever indicator that promises better survival into a source of fear.
Yes, one of the things we fear as humans is the loss of something we think is important to survival. But, putting it in today's context, how much of an impact to our survival will there be to getting the approval of a complete stranger? Should we continue spending our consciousness capital (supply) on being on guard to make sure that as we walk through a restaurant of complete strangers that we look good and that they think something good of us (even though it might be something that is not true of us)?
So, in that case, though relatively teeny, we do spend energy and attention with no real payoff, but we also are spending nervous energy and causing stress, to some degree, on it - as we are trying to make sure that we do not experience a loss - and that way of thinking is a "fear causer". If we magnify and add of this together throughout all of our life, we are in fear of "losing approval" and therefore, in the illogic of the primitive brain, we are impairing our survival prospects - which is certainly something that fear is designed to have us react to and correct.
So, it could be somewhat true that this could effect your level of survival in those who are close to you or even with your boss and fellow workers, but it is at the level of being false with those who actually do not at all affect you directly in any way or have a deminimus effect, small enough to pass by without impact.
THE KEY POINT HERE...
The key point I want to make here is that we have "made up" some beliefs about what causes what - and some of those beliefs do not cause the results we want or at least do not cause the level of good results we want. To the extent they are not correct and do not work we should look at them and correct what is important. (We would best aim to do what is necessary to Live Life As A Life Champion - The Vital Skills And Practices To Live A Great Life.)
On the other hand, it is not important, I think, that we correct our feelings toward our pets even if they will not benefit our survival per se and even if we are just making it up. Those are "ok".
What isn't "ok" in life is to have in our lives that which causes bad feelings - such as exaggerated and false fears about losing or incurring certain things that cause undesired results. Some "results" we seek have no true value - such as approval from strangers - so I would suggest that we stop seeking those and recognize them for what they are (or aren't) - and then direct our attention and efforts to what will get something of great worth (value).
NEW BELIEFS WOULD RESULT, SUCH AS...
We are not dependent
We would realize that we are not truly dependent on any one person or relationship.
Yes, they can have benefits to us, but we'll be just fine without them as we have the power to survive in this world. We will still be able to go get food at the grocery store, the roads will still be built, and the "big tribe" will provide what is needed. We need have no fear of loss of a relationship (though, perhaps, some sadness is automatic) and we need have no (or deminimus) fear of someone not approving of us, especially in little incidences that occur where we do not "perform well" or do something "wrong".
We also would not respond in our higher brain to someone outside our close circle thinking less of us or even expressing disapproval - we will know that the disapproval and/or criticism is an expression of their erroneous thinking, since an enlightened person would not disapprove of or be critical of another human being.
(The enlightened person, which will hopefully eventually be you, would "know" this, as a certainty, that there is "no fault", that there is simply a lack of sufficient knowing behind everyone's behaviors - and that would enable him to not blame anyone for their level of skill or knowledge or "doing something bad" - which would mean that he did not need to forgive anyone in life, since no person is blamed by him in the first place! This is a tough concept for some people, because we are often stuck in depending on our old belief systems and may feel threatened (or simply not understand) by something new and/or different from what we believe.)
There is nothing to fear ahead of time
Our constant misinterpretation of what is actual danger leaves us in a constant state of fear and, correspondingly, of stress. (Dr. Sapolsky nails this in his book Why Zebras Do Not Get Ulcers - skip the book and just read Understanding The Stressors Of Your Body - Know This Or Suffer And Die Early (!!!!) - one of the key lines is: "The zebra runs from the tiger. Then it's over. The fear is no longer active. And he grazes calmly..." - contrary to what the human does!)
All mistakes are simply occurrences with no other significant meaning.
We will, of course, make mistakes since we do not know how to do all things to a sufficient level not to make mistakes. In our society, we hear the encouraging words "a mistake is simply an opportunity to learn!" - and that it is a good descriptor of all it is, since, of course, a mistake is simply an indication that we do not yet know some bit of information that would have us perform without error or mistake. Simple. [However, it is realistic to avoid making too many mistakes, since they can be a source of self-judgment and others judging you as not being competent enough to rely on and be safe with. It behooves us to bypass that problem by doing a "build" of knowledge that is sufficient to have us being largely competent at life. If we are not competent enough, there is practically no human being who would be happy with himself as such. (See Must Learn How Things Work To Achieve Competence - Without Life Competence, You Can't Be Happy.) We best not waste any energy on being worried about or regretting making mistakes, but instead we would best be devoting our time to what is under our control and direction - learning how to live and manage our lives - which is, as you probably have gathered already, the purpose of this site (and eventually The Institute).] We would no longer have to be "worthy" or "good enough". We would no longer believe we have to be "good enough", as we would know we are good enough and/or that it is not an issue and that we have "no fault". We would no longer misspend our lives trying to prove ourselves worthy of life (which is a totally fallacious idea anyway!) or worthy of living in others' eyes. It is true that few people will reach this in a pure sense, as we will always have a sense of wanting to prove ourselves worthy of being in the tribe, however we define that. But we will do enough to get ourselves to a high enough competency that being "good enough" is no longer, at all, a question!!! There are many more beliefs to revise and to come to. Those are the subject of the Beliefs section, where specific beliefs to be addressed are listed in the right hand panel, with links and solutions: Contents/Links.