Our world views evolve over time. Bit by bit they are forged from our experiences and will result in a growing list of things to repeat and others to avoid. We’ve built a library of words and phrases that combine to form our life stories, frequently recalled and woven together to define our personality, behaviour and ultimately our identity.
Our world views affect how we look at things and therefore, what we “see”. And if seeing is believing then our truth is created by our world view. So how do we avoid potential cognitive dissonance that living with a new truth can bring?
What happens when our world view changes?
This really depends on the impact of the change itself. It might be a totally private influence that nobody notices through to a major life shift that affects everyone in your sphere of influence and even beyond to the wider community, county, or country. There can be a mass response such as has occurred with the current pandemic, where everyone has been affected.
The responses to COVID-19 are many and varied. Because this was a new human virus, people wanted to be able to do something. In the vacuum of facts, a wide range of conspiracy theories were born with some ending with the death of believers.
How does an altered world view affect the truth, or does it just change “your truth”?
For example, if I became convinced that the Earth is flat, that would then become my truth, but this new perception of mine doesn’t change the shape of the Earth.
If the change only affects my truth then what’s the difference between truth, facts and beliefs?
Facts are undeniable statements of actual existence or occurrence. Facts can be proven and are generally repeatable in the future. They do not change along with your perspective.
Fact: Rivers flow downhill on Earth.
Fact: Oxygen is essential for combustion to occur.
All facts are true but not all that is true can be supported with facts. This how we get confused between facts and truth because the meaning of the word “true” has a continuum from the factual through to holding true to our beliefs.
Beliefs are personal perspectives or opinions, even habits of mind that are believed to be true. They can be shared with others and are often strongly held with a high degree of trust or confidence. These common beliefs may be the founding principles of groups or even bigger communities, but this does not make them factual.
How does our new truth impact our relationship with those around us, our friends, family, or fellow members of our community?
There will be a continuum from a wonderfully positive impact and relationship strengthening to a permanent relationship breakdown and painful loss.
The challenge today is that information sharing and spreading is so rapid and pervasive that there is no when “stop” or “undo” button. The rewards for sharing can be significant and process so easy, a click or touch, and even habituated, a click or touch, that they bypass offline measures such as asking: “Why?” or “Is that for real?”, and next step processes like: let me think about or I’ll dig a little deeper. If this interests you, you might like the book “Contagious” by Jonah Berger.
When our world view changes, how do we keep ourselves and those we care for safe?
With suppression of filtering or critical thinking, the risk of negative outcomes from major change increases. And when surrounded by a group that supports the new perspective our self perception can be as false as the anorexic’s body dysmorphia.
Accepting our fundamental need and desire for human connection, our relationships are critical for happiness. Therefore, it’s important to consider how much you value each of the major relationships in your life and consider the needs and wants of those close to us before committing 100% to any new set of beliefs.
This assumes of course that you are aware of your changing perception. That it is conscious and not an insidious unobservable sequence of shifts which some people believe is happening through and because of our addicition to social media platforms.
Understanding our human behaviour is at the heart of keeping ourselves and those we love and care for safe.
It’s overly simplistic to believe our behaviour is driven primarily by punishment or reward. Although they can be effective motivators, they are both extrinsic, which is why the following statement from Edward L Deci and Richard Ryan might describe why it’s inevitable our world view continually evolves. It is fundamental to living.
“Perhaps no single phenomenon reflects the positive potential of human nature as much as intrinsic motivation, the inherent tendency to seek out novelty and challenges, to extend and exercise one’s capacities, to explore, and to learn.”
Years ago I drank the Amway cool-aide and ignored or rationalised away doubts and disharmonies I felt from belonging to this network marketing organisation. These thoughts were overrun by deep-seated social norms and personal desires.
I had a young family and was approached by an old school friend who also had a young family similar in age to mine.
I was blind to the indoctrination because of abundant proof from all over the world that the group business principles promoted were genuinely good for all. The community support, friendliness, excitement and seduction of the “promised land” led to our family unwittingly buying into early success as we “tested” out the product line.
It was only after inviting a close friend to experience a large group meeting that the virtual “smack-on-the-head” arrived. A welcome jolt to re-align with my core values.
Another old friend had a more destabilising experience from seductive externally powered influence. Her husband and father of their two young children, although a leader in his chosen profession, became disenchanted as life challenges landed on their doorstep. A religious cult ensnared him with false promises and demands for investment of time and money that diverted his attention and ultimately his mind and heart away from his family. The marriage dissolved and communication between father and children is infrequent 16 years later.
If we’re hard-wired to search, explore, stretch and grow then it is inevitable our world view will constantly change. And to ensure we navigate all change safely, consider: being aware the change is happening, asking “what is there to lose?” just as often as “what is there to gain?” and taking time to discuss the potential impact on the important relationships in our lives with people we’ve known and trusted for at least 10 years will help keep us connected to those we love.
Have you had a world view change that appeared out of the blue?
Are you aware of a specific event or new piece of knowledge that triggered a change in your behaviour?
Have you experienced a belated correction that’d you’d like to share?
Please add your comments or feedback below.
Forty one years ago I’d reached a level of independence after leaving my parents home and city of birth to begin my second year at university. The degrees of freedom were almost boundless and despite the responsibility of studying for my Zoology major there was plenty of opportunity to satisfy my boundless youthful curiosity.
This included my first foray into meditation and began with an introductory Transcendental Meditation course that lasted several months. During particularly stressful times, despite years without any meditation, I found that returning to my TM practice, even for brief periods, helped restore some balance.
Despite this periodic relief I never fully understood how or why it might be good for me.
I’d read research convincing me that meditation was valuable but somehow it never really clicked for me in relation to TM and I used TM more like a treatment than a preventative lifestyle choice.
I had unanswered questions, mainly due to there being an excess of mysticism and fuzzy answers during my brief training, to what I thought were legitimate questions:
Three years ago I read a book called Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris. There was so much resonance in the title alone because that is how I often described myself, deeply spiritual or more accurately, deeply connected with nature but no interest in religion. This came from attending an Anglican high school, where chapel services, church organs and hymn singing were compulsory along with school on Saturday mornings, yet the relevance to my life obscured.
Roll forward to today and I’ve just passed the first subscription anniversary for Sam Harris’ Meditation App that I have found both highly interesting, giving answers to many of my old questions, and hugely practical. It has been simultaneously mentally expanding and calming.
I consider myself to be a novice meditator. Many readers will be much more experienced and may not like a guided meditation practice. However, with an open mind, and because even very experienced people can benefit from experienced guidance, then maybe what follows is worth exploring.
But why take my word for it when you can click here to try it out for yourself for a month for free. This offer is freely available for everyone to share from within the App. I strongly recommend this because it simply make sense when considering mental hygiene, Sam asks: “Would you consider not brushing your teeth every day?” If not then why not give your mind the same support.
If you’ve already used Sam’s App please comment below.