As soon as you can say what you think, and not what some other person has thought for you, you are on your way to being a remarkable man. – J.M. Barrie
When I can help a client or friend break the pattern of reactive behavior and thought and really express themselves authentically in their actions and behavior I know I have participated in something amazing.
The 1st 20 years of life or so we spend learning. Lessons from the family, community, culture, and faith we are born into are repeated and built upon until, by the time we graduate and enter the adult life we have taken in lessons that shape our world view, our interactions with others, and beliefs about the world at large that form our views of right and wrong, worthy and unworthy. When we enter the work force and find role models or mentors who have the kinds of life we want it is easy to just absorb their views into our own. It becomes much more difficult if we are constantly absorbing messages from the media or closed social circles.
If we are luck, someone along the way taught us to think about what we were learning. If we are really lucky we have had some real world experience that calls us to question our fundamental beliefs, to accept, discard, or form new ways of seeing things.
While “ignorance is bliss” it does not shape the character.
Knowing who you are, what you want, and being clear about what you think can be difficult when arriving at adulthood with so many years of programing. It takes work and a watchful eye on our behavior and thinking, especially when it is judgmental or critical of others.
It doesn’t mean we throw all of that out or need to rebel to become remarkable men and women.
It does mean we need to be clear and honest about our beliefs, especially to ourselves. Being able to separate my own view from the cultural one, claiming my values rather than accepting norms, and then aligning them with my actions with real integrity takes work and sacrifice. Sometimes it creates conflict with people who expect certain things or who knew me in the past when I was swimming in someone else stream.
Thinking is the process of trying to align thought and physical reality – realities about ourselves, our circumstances, our relationships, as well as the world, culture, and political environment we live in.
It is hard work and a challenging prospect if you are trying to do it alone.