Sunday, February 12, 2012

Who's Faith?

It's Thursday morning about half past ten. My iPhone chimes. The text is from Faith.


I'm in a close to crazy place. The stark contrast between my stated beliefs and the challenging experience is jarring. Lots of thinking... Sometimes I can shift to get alignment; sometimes it's like oil and water. But can it be happy oil and water?

"How perfect", I think as I hasten toward the bathroom at the mere thought of oil and water. My stomach flu is providing me a similar challenge regarding the contrast between belief-in-theory and belief-in-practice.

Kneeling over the toilet, I think, "Thanks, Faith! What a great reminder!"

I stand up feeling a bit better. Walk back into my office, plop down on my chair, close my eyes and rest.

Who's You
There are many ways to answer the question, "Who am I really?" You can answer the question physiologically. You can answer the question philosophically. You can answer the question psychologically.

Even within those domains, you have subdomains defined by medium and temporal frame. You can describe your physiology chemically, visually, electrically, or dimensionally. You can describe it as a snapshot, over time or under various sets of circumstances. You can describe it in part or in whole. An X-ray, a CT-scan, a thermal image, a blood test, a sonogram and an electrocardiogram each provide a different version of who you are physically. None of them is right or wrong. They're just different ways at looking at what makes you, you.

Philosophically, one way to describe you is by the constellation of beliefs you hold. Some beliefs vary significantly over time; some are more stable. Some contrast starkly with others. You have sunny-day beliefs and rainy-day beliefs. You have beliefs you've carefully crafter over time and beliefs you picked up at the checkout counter when you left your folks' house. You have beliefs that surprise you when they pop out given the right set of circumstances and beliefs that are always where you expect them to be. You have beliefs that have stood the test of time and circumstance and beliefs that have never been challenged.

Never Been Challenged
The last category has the greatest capacity for emotional upheaval, specially when the unchallenged belief is strongly held, or better yet, strongly held and broadly proclaimed. The upheaval doesn't come from the strength of belief, but from your attachment to the belief. When it becomes important that your belief is 'true', well, then you've built yourself a great internal roller coaster that's just waiting for you to climb aboard.

What happens when your deeply held, loudly proclaimed, highly-invested belief turns out to be WRONG? The bars come down, the car rolls up the incline and weeeee... you're flying through the loop-de-loop at 100 miles an hour.

Here's the thing, the thing for which I breathed a, "Thanks, Faith". It's just a belief. And a belief is just a decision. And a decision can always be changed. Simple, right?

Well, yeah, but, then why the roller coaster ride?

The roller coaster ride is not due to your belief being WRONG. It's due to your BELIEFS about your belief being right. If you believe strongly that it'll be a beautiful day tomorrow and then wake up to find it raining, no problem. However, if you insist that the corporate picnic will be fine and veto the decision to postpone it, well, that's another thing. It's your attachment to your belief that causes the angst and that attachment is itself based on other beliefs.

Surfing the Tsunami
The cool thing is that, if you're someone who's into better understanding herself by actively exploring what she believes and why, then the oil-and-water scenario becomes better than a happy experience. You're a surfer suddenly coming upon a tsunami or mountain biker cresting a peak and finding a gnarly downhill run. It's awesome. It's what you've been training for.

Beliefs are just decisions waiting for an opportunity to manifest. They're not who you are. They don't define you. They're just a way of describing your state.

In physics, you have potential energy and kinetic energy. So it goes with decisions, you have potential decisions (beliefs) and kinetic decisions (actions). They're still both decisions. The potential decision (belief) converts to kinetic when it causes you to act. Conversely, kinetic decisions lead to a build of potential.

Perhaps most importantly, beliefs don't mean anything. Meaning is simply a side effect of having a belief about a belief.

So, who's Faith? That'd be up to her and she might change it a minute later.

Happy Sunday,
Teflon

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