Rose Colored Glasses or Long Overdue Possibility?
We live in a much more complicated world today than our ancestors ever could have imagined, even just a hundred years ago. Bombarded daily by an onslaught of information from news sources, social media, and even the local terrains of work, school and community that directly affect our everyday lives, beliefs, and behaviors. Simplicity of living in peaceful contentment with a comfortable understanding of our environment and our place in it – or who we are in our world – no longer exists.
Our world is chaotic and in order to make some sense out of the chaos, our minds grasp onto things to which we can relate. To bring order, our minds create hundreds of categories, or buckets, and fill them with people, ideas, groups, companies, religions, etc. Then we sort out the buckets into rows of right, wrong, agree or disagree in order to create a stronghold of identity, connection and a sense of security. By doing this, whether realizing it or not, we designate who to trust, who stands with us, and who to support or listen to in the future.
We perform this compartmentalization and absorb it into our personality not on our own but through other series’ of connections with people such as parents, teachers and friends who have influenced us in the past, made their mark engraining their biases on our younger minds.
Our sense of self finds comfort within these learned and chosen identities. Once these associated identies are imprinted we will defend them if threatened, questioned or ridiculed by others. We are angered and stand up against insults against our spouse, sports team, music, state, religion or political affiliation, etc. because we take it personally when connections to our personality are put in jeopardy. We have attached who we are to our affiliation with these things and no matter how correct and well delivered the argument given by the opposer, we are unlikely to listen with a clear and unbiased mind. We go deaf to rational and logical debate and psychologically slip into a fight, flight or freeze state derived from evolutionary instincts. We defend, attack or shut down from what goes against us. Even when a shadow of truth in an opponents argument cannot be denied, it will not be easily accepted and may, in fact, cause an more intense reaction of denial from us. This is called cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance is the inability to hold two conflicting ideas. Mental discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs, values, or attitudes. It can trigger a ferocious over the top reaction, as you may have witnessed or experienced this phenomenon for yourself, at some time.
When proven wrong about an idea or ‘team’ we associate with our identity, it makes us feel weak, less intelligent, waters down our righteousness and squashes our ego. Most of the time, we cannot admit we are wrong for even the smallest or silliest of things, like forgetting to run the dishwasher or why a baseball game was lost. We go on defense, attacking back, drilling opponents with our own opinions and insults about their beliefs or chosen teams. It becomes a ‘war to be right’, primarily conducted on social media platforms, living rooms, or backyard BBQs. Places where our voices can truly be heard and make a difference, right? All this does is cause internal anxiety and external strife.
I think most of us want peace and good vibes. But how do we get it when everyone is driving us nuts with their wrongness?
Easy. First we cut the connection between our identity and the things in the external world we allow to define it. This means dropping the labels we and others have attached to us. These things should not blindly own and control us without question. It’s just not intelligent. Who we are should be determined through critical thinking, integrity, curiosity, accountability, skills, creativity, talents, empathy, emotional control and, most importantly, a general ability to weigh right against wrong with a clear head no matter the issue discussed or the presenter of information.
But how can we ever get to this ‘advanced’ state of being? We must decide this way of being is the most effective, intelligent and beneficial way for us to live and interact with others in our world for a healthy and happier life of internal growth.
This is not an easy thing to accomplish because change is not easy. Change is even more difficult when all around us remain the same. So, what is the point if we continue to be surrounded by others who are still fighting in the ‘war to be right’?
Peace. The kind of peace that starts from within, an internal transformation of thoughtful intellect. In time, this inner phenomenon will reveal itself outwardly as you refuse to react to news reports, social media posts and other arguments. This peace will expand, like a bubble of thoughtful silence in the beginning. Initially pushing others to a comfortable distance and giving us an opportunity for observation and personal deliberation. Once we turn down the part of ourself that wants to fight and defend, we can begin to listen.
Why would we care to listen to other points of view if we want to be more in touch with our true self?
Because listening is learning and learning inspires growth of our authentic self. No person is all right or all wrong in nearly any situation, subject, belief or ideological allegiance. Even proven science cannot be expected to be wholly complete. We make new discoveries all the time. This is why we must become open to more than one perspective. Become seekers, sharers and comparers of knowledge, instead of aggressive naysayers. Research, admit new evidence and allow free discussion. We must share knowledge to make our lives and the world the best for everyone.
If we choose this path of self improvement, people around us may be surprised by our refusal run into battle and fight to be right. They begin to notice the calm, thoughtful bubble around you and stop pressing issues to it. Over time, they start to flutter around the bubble, curious but uncertain about your new demeanor. They tentatively put forth something they heard or thought about, asking “What do you think?”
Here, a door opens, an awakening takes place, and minds can come together for sensible discussion, comparisons of idea and principles, and analysis of truths, values, morals and fairness can be explored.
I imagine the process of leaving the ‘war to be right’ is similar to our ability to sink into a book and allow ourselves to accept what we read as viable. We must suspend our disbelief, in order to open our mind to other possibilities and other perspectives.
If every one of us decided to quit the information war and separate from the the buckets we tend, we could all experience inner peace, expand it into the physical world, share it, listen, learn and transform.
So, tell me. Is this plausible? Or do I have my rosey glasses on today? Leave a comment. I’m listening….