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▣ How does my jar affect the way I view my life?

posted by admin on May 7th, 2009 at 9:22 AM

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Life is an interesting phenomenon. We all yearn to believe in a God or something that makes life worth living; otherwise, many of us would just jump off a building or attempt some other act of desperation.   Life can be hard! I do believe that we are born with an instinct to survive, so that helps the population to stay afloat; however, along with that instinct to survive, we have a need to validate who/what we are, what we believe in, and how we live. That's where all the problems start. We are born into a family, into a religion, into a neighborhood, into a country, and so on. We are educated/indoctrinated into the family beliefs, then into the religious beliefs, and on and on.    We become a composite of all these beliefs, e.g., our jar.   As we grow older, we formulate a picture of ourselves from all the information we contain in our jars, and we live in the world constantly seeing ourselves through others.

Life is an interesting phenomenon. We all yearn to believe in a God or something that makes life worth living; otherwise, many of us would just jump off a building or attempt some other act of desperation.   Life can be hard! I do believe that we are born with an instinct to survive, so that helps the population to stay afloat; however, along with that instinct to survive, we have a need to validate who/what we are, what we believe in, and how we live. That's where all the problems start. We are born into a family, into a religion, into a neighborhood, into a country, and so on. We are educated/indoctrinated into the family beliefs, then into the religious beliefs, and on and on.    We become a composite of all these beliefs, e.g., our jar.   As we grow older, we formulate a picture of ourselves from all the information we contain in our jars, and we live in the world constantly seeing ourselves through others.

 
It is important to recognize that indoctrination/education is an essential ingredient of childhood and adolescence; it means survival of the species. It is a time in which both positive and negative fundamentals and beliefs are established at the unconscious level.  
And now that you have become an adult and your mental and emotional skills have matured, you have the opportunity to choose your path. Let me use a metaphor. An individual is traveling on a road and he/she comes to a bridge with a toll-booth. He/she stops to pay the toll and asks a question of the attendant, "I'm moving to the town ahead, but I've never been there before. What kind of people will I find there?” The toll-booth attendant in turn inquires, "In the town you just left what kind of people did you know?" The attendant knew that the traveler would find exactly the same kind of people in the next town as in the old town because the traveler carries his/her old fundamentals and beliefs with him/her wherever he/she goes. Hereafter, we will be focused mostly on negative beliefs because these are the ones that most often side track our lives. But keep in mind that there are a number of high quality positive beliefs that you may have been indoctrinated/educated with, such as, kindness, courtesy, generosity, etc.
 
An example of a negative belief is
(1) one in which someone who has grown up in a Catholic family who has been indoctrinated to the belief that if he/she goes to a Jewish Synagogue that he/she will be punished by God. 
OR
(2) on the other side of this, someone who has grown up in a Jewish family who has been indoctrinated to the belief that if he/she goes to a Catholic Church, that he/she will be punished by God.  
In scenario (1) above, the result is that the Catholic person could see reflected from his/her Jewish friend or in scenario (2) above, the Jewish person could see reflected from his Catholic friend a picture of someone in disfavor with God. Thus, subconsciously or consciously this Jewish or Catholic friend and he/she will always have an invisible barrier between them — a kind of threat to their salvation. And as a result, the two will never really be trusted friends.   So what does all this mean? Well, it means that every statement/belief that has been planted within you will consciously or subconsciously affect your entire life.   Unless, you become conscious of it!
 
From the moment of inception, we begin to be indoctrinated.   We hear and see things that at the time would probably not be memorable to us, but the imprint is strong in our subconscious. For example, someone may have yelled at you when you were two years old. Now you are twenty and your girl friend has the same tonal qualities of that person who yelled at you when you were two. Yes, suddenly there is an angst between you and your girl friend, but you do not consciously know why. You may blame it on her shopping habits or the way she's wearing her hair. You may find that you are willing to discard the relationship without ever really getting to know her just because subconsciously you react to the memory of the tonal quality of her voice when she disagrees with you even over minor things.
 
We label people by their color, religion, body weight, nationality, etc., long before we are even introduced to them. Our religions set us one against the other because of religious beliefs; our families can set us one against another family member, neighbor, etc.   We even set our children one against the other because of the schools they may attend, or the neighborhood from which they come. I am not talking about competition like that in a school baseball team playing another school's baseball team. I am talking about the school, e.g., private, religious, public, being judged against the qualities of the other(s).
 
We label our children's playmates by color, family, religion, beauty, or nationality. We pit our children one against the other scholastically.   We measure our successes by the size of our homes or the maker of our automobile. We judge each other by our own beliefs as they are reflected to us from each other through the filters of our jars.
 
Some examples of limiting beliefs include…
  • If someone is overweight, then that is bad because our belief system says that if you eat all your vegetables and stay away from fat and sugar, you will be slender and healthy. Well, you know what that may be true some of the time; however, not all the time. The body needs some degree of sugar and fat to be healthy. And, that person who is fat may be fat for reasons other than not eating their vegetables. However, we are eager to label this overweight person as bad and even avoid him/her because he/she represents failure to us; i.e., a failure to eat the way we perceive is the healthy way to eat.
  • The person who is Catholic/Protestant/Jewish/Muslim… is bad because we are of another faith and it is bad to associate with someone of the wrong faith so we cannot be seen associating with him/her.
  • There is an African-American boy over there on the corner, so you had better hold onto your wallet because surely he will rob you because he must come from a bad neighborhood.
  • Go to church and hear the sermon that God loves you, but will put you into hell for eternity if you forget to pray or if you do not ask for His forgiveness for forgetting to pray. Many of my relatives died thinking they would go to hell if they ate meat on a Friday.
  • Etc., etc., etc.
 
THE WORLD AS A MIRROR
So the world and everyone in it acts like a mirror for you. Then why do you only see bad things being reflected?   Well, for starters, the negative reflects our fears.   If we see bad, then we are immediately reminded of punishment...a burning hell, rejection from family or someone we love, or accountability to someone or something, and on and on.    Fear can be a crippling emotion. It can lead you down some pretty confusing roads. It can take an innocent remark or mistake, or circumstance and turn it into a terrible misunderstanding or even disaster. Fear comes with many faces.
  • One face could be the protector… I will protect you from this horrible person or circumstance.   
  • One face could be the savior… I will save myself/you from damnation or from...   
  • One face could be the righteous one… I am right and will defend myself to the death.  
  • One face could be the defenseless one... I must always be prepared to defend myself.  
  • These are only a few of the faces. I am sure you could add many more.
 
SO, if I eliminate the person who is reflecting all that uncomfortable stuff back to me, then I won't feel so bad about who I am?   I guess if all the Protestants kill all the Catholics, then that would make all the Catholics okay and validate all their beliefs? And if all the Muslims kill all the Baptists, then that would validate their beliefs asMuslims? But the fact is that the Muslims would have to kill all the Catholics or vice versa; then whoever is the victor would have to kill all the Buddhists; then … I think you get the picture. 
 
The other thing that negativity reflects to us is our weakness(es). Weakness is not something that society accepts very well.    We all dream about being strong and successful and smart, but we do not all have the same opportunities, the same education, the same physical body, or even the same level of intelligence. Some bodies no matter how hard you exercise them will still stay weaker than others. Some people no matter how much education they receive will still not be as smart as some others. Some people no matter how hard society tries to treat them equally will never achieve their full potential.   We judge ourselves and others harshly by the weaknesses we perceive about ourselves.   The face of weakness takes a large toll on us.
 
So if everyone is reflecting me to me, why do I get so angry at the person and not myself?
Transferring anger from me onto the other person is a way of protecting who I am. I may not like myself, but if that person didn't reflect all that bad stuff about me to me then I wouldn't have to look at it and I would be just fine with who I am.  
 
The very act of seeing your reflection through this mirror is the first step to forgiving yourself and recognizing that these were behaviors based on old beliefs and fundamentals indoctrinated into you during your youth and adolescence. The next step is to accept that you have matured and can change your actions/reactions; that by changing your actions/reactions, you will, in turn, change your beliefs. For example, as a Catholic you may have met an individual who is Jewish and your automatic (indoctrinated) response is to think, "He is tight with money and will not be much fun." So now you have a choice to make. You could listen to your jar or you can stop yourself and do something simple, that is, you can recognize that you have had an automatic or fundamentally triggered response and so you take time to talk to the individual. It may turn out that he/she is good with budgeting his/her money, and that he/she could be lots of fun. The only way you find out is by changing your behavior.
 
So in summary, "Act as if you have the new belief." Then try it out for 10 days. 
Three important parts of this process are
            (1) to forgive yourself for slipping into your old thought patterns and behavior,
and
            (2) to forgive yourself for any past hurts you may have inflicted on someone else,
and
            (3) to recognize if you need to forgive someone else and then do so.   
 
 

last edited on June 7th, 2009 at 7:10 PM

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