How many times have you shared what you believed and realized you have no idea why you believe it to be true? Did someone teach you? Tell you? Did you ever think to question the information before you bought into it?
Sometimes we are asked what we believe about something. I generally preface every response to such a question with the fact that this is what appears to be true for me, from my perspective. I realized recently that there have been a few times in my life where what I believed about myself, the world, the nature of the universe and other humans had to all be tossed out.
I realized that I believed what I had been told from someone else’s perspective, experience and knowledge about what is true—without really knowing why I believed any of it. These truths did not resonate with me as I started my second decade here as a human, so I decided I needed to figure out what among all of this information I was told as my truth really was my truth.
We each have very limited exposures to experiences, people, cultures, ethnicity, religions, etc., and often we do not even realize other things exist. This is the nature of being human and being here for only one lifetime (as who we are this time, perhaps)!
When you toss away everything that you once believed about your reality and do an overhaul, it is a bit scary. We hold on to beliefs like security blankets, whether or not they serve us or they feel true to us, so it is no surprise that I felt like I took a leap off of a very tall building during this time.
Perhaps what I really did during this time was to surrender to that inner voice to guide me the rest of the way. This was more of a leap of faith than you might suspect because I then explored the major beliefs I had carried around, challenged them with some research and became more open to beliefs outside of the myopic ones.
I explored until I found a few things that felt more like my truths than the previous ones. They seemed to resonate in a way that none of the other information had up to this point. I grabbed a hold of the new ones and went on with most another decade of my life!
These new beliefs I had adopted or adapted in my early twenties served me fairly well, but as I experienced more through college, jobs, marriage, love, therapy (ha), and certainly loss, they no longer fit with the woman who was evolving and growing.
By 28, it was time to re-evaluate. At 20, so not many even noticed that I went through this process. Here in my later 20’s, I had to look at my beliefs about the roles I had agreed to play in my life. My beliefs about my wife role were undergoing challenges. I thought my husband and I were in general agreement on this topic, but after four years, it seemed that we really were not.
His beliefs about the wife’s role were very much influenced by his parents’ beliefs and their church’s interpretation of a few scriptures on the matter. I tried to accept this as the truth too, but even my husband was not sure that was truth for him.
During this same time, I was successfully completing my master’s degree in clinical psychology and was feeling more of a sense of self-efficacy and security than ever in my life up to that point. I was no longer worried about doing what others thought was right for me, so that they could tell me I was ok. I really believed I was ok, so my beliefs about my competencies and myself shifted greatly during this time.
Even after this seemingly major shift in my beliefs about myself, others, the world, and spirituality, there were more to come as I moved to FL in my early thirties. Within my first year here, I became ill. As you may or may not have experienced, when there is a major health crisis, it often requires another look at what you believe to be true about the nature of the universe.
Initially during the crisis, I tried to revert to the original religious beliefs I had adopted from others. These beliefs were pretty rigid and concrete in terms of punishment for deeds. Having always been hard on myself, these particular beliefs seemed to fuel my misguided perfectionistic tendencies, and I had, in the previous decade, come to a new understanding.
During the initial phases of this crisis, however, I searched for what I had done so horribly wrong to be punished by being unable to walk. I had a few theories, but could not help but notice that others who had also committed such wrongs were still walking!
Rather than continue to move backwards in growing my beliefs and my truth through this crisis, I somehow made a decision to move forward and challenge most of it all over again. I had people telling me that if I had enough faith or prayed harder that I would be healed. I had others telling me that certain vitamin mixes or foods would heal me.
I had doctors telling me to “get used to it” and other mental health professionals telling me to accept it all and I would be ok. I let folks anoint me with oil and perform quite a few of their rituals early in the illness. I felt very much like a child in that sponge-like stage who was just listening and doing whatever anyone told me might work.
really, what did I believe was going to help me to best get through this crisis? I really had no idea for most of the first couple of years. I still had no real diagnosis through the first year and a half, so I was not really sure what I was expected to be doing for it. Even physical and occupational therapists were afraid to work with me because depending on the diagnosis, some exercises may have been contraindicated.
What felt most true for me was that no one person could possibly know what was true for me. No one organization, doctor, preacher or whomever could possibly tell me this either. I had to figure this out the same way I had to figure out how to adjust my abilities to a supposedly accessible environment. No one accessible environment fits all people with disabilities. Not all people can believe all of the same things and call them their own truths.
What became my truth was the current situation—the present and what was happening at that moment in time. I could be certain of nothing else and ran out of energy trying to figure out anything other than that.
Just about everything in my life was different than it had ever been at this point, so everything was new and I resigned myself to figuring out whatever challenge presented itself that day. Some days, that was simply how to take a shower and others it was how to distract myself from pain and discomfort. Each challenge was taken as it came, in the moment, and I worked with it until I could actually figure it out.
Several years later, I was a bit more able to understand how this decision to go with the moment served me. I think you might be familiar with the numerous books suggesting that there is great power in the now! 😉
Each challenge on whatever day gave me a bit more confidence in my ability to cope with new challenges. I was able to think more outside the box and get a better idea of what I was able to do. I had accepted that I would work within my limits on any given day, which allowed me to stretch those limits on days that I could. I was not attached to outcomes, expectations or prognoses when I was in the moment, either.
I was able to be a bit more gentle and loving with myself when I was not able to complete a task and afforded myself a bit more latitude. I knew there were other options to help to manage the pain and became open to and asked for the other treatment options. Every decision I made was about improving my quality of life in the moment. If it only amounted to a few moments of quality, I was all for it.
I do not know if I would have arrived at the magic of being in the present moment without having such a crisis. What I believe is that by being able to be in the moments, we have a better chance of getting through a crisis with a higher quality of life than if we do not. Being present even in the absence of a crisis has certainly proven to be life enhancing as well!