Why do we defend our beliefs so strongly even when they don’t serve us?
If we look through history, we can see that many, many people defended their viewpoint – even to their death. Why do we do this? Because we want to be right about our beliefs, so we can justify our experience and feel that we are in control. Even when we have evidence that proves there is another perspective to be considered. If we stopped for a moment and considered new information, we might feel wrong, stupid, or uninformed, so we cling tightly to what we know.
Challenging our beliefs may bring up negative feelings we have long suppressed, and our ego is not going to want us to feel those feelings. Our ego’s job is (and always has been) to protect us from pain that it doesn’t think we can handle.
I once had a belief that I wasn’t good enough in relationships. My ego created this belief by internalizing my mom’s fears and accusations of me when I was young. A couple of years back, a dear friend of mine showed up as my ‘proof,’ accusing me of letting her down during a very trying time in her life. Her accusations and anger justified my belief that I wasn’t a good friend.
I deeply desire to be “good enough” in relationships, and as a result, I felt a great deal of pain from my friend’s accusations. This pain (feelings of anger, hurt, or fear) was an internal messenger telling me that my desire and my beliefs were not in alignment. What I wanted and what I believed were out of sync with each other. This was my moment to stop and challenge my belief. Instead of getting caught in the drama of my friend’s pain that matched up with my old limiting belief, I stopped and asked myself “’ is it true that you were a bad friend? Is it really true?” As I looked at the facts, I realized that it wasn’t true. I was being my most honest authentic and loving self, honoring my feelings and giving of myself to my best ability in that relationship.
This realization brought up some old stored anger and hurt towards my friend and my mother. I had accepted their beliefs about me as true up until that moment. I felt sad at not being ‘seen’ for who I am, and disappointed in myself for buying into a belief that just wasn’t true for me as an adult.
Once those feelings moved through, I had a chance to let go of my old beliefs that I am not “good enough” in relationships. I don’t have to be right or justify my actions anymore to protect myself from the unconscious feelings of hurt and anger within me. I can see they are my feelings and that I generate them based on the way I think about myself and others.
Now I know that I am more than good enough in relationships. And, as I pay attention to and honor my relationship with ME, I am even more loving and honoring of all the relationships with others.
What beliefs are you willing to challenge today?