One of the memes that crops up in many New Age lines of thinking is that we get what we look for, and like attracts like. Certainly, you are going to have a hard time seeing something you don’t believe is there. Yesterday I was exploring the way in which negative people are often acting in ways intending to reinforce their own world view. I want to follow on from that today. Not thinking so much about the implications of believing, or not believing in fairies and angels here. More about what we believe of ourselves and the world.
It’s so easy to manufacture the experiences that confirm expectations, without necessarily being conscious off the process. Back in my teens there was a boyfriend who had been through some awful stuff and didn’t really think anyone cared about him, as a logical consequence of this. If anyone got too close, he’d become increasingly demanding, difficult and challenging until he forced them (and in my turn, me) to give up and walk away. Thus he kept confirming his belief about his relationship with the whole of reality. Eventually, I gather he got his head straight enough to give someone a chance. There’s nothing like believing you are unlovable to make it hard for those around you to manifest care.
How many such beliefs are we all lugging around? I’m conscious that I may be viewing the world as more hostile than it inherently is. I don’t see the New Age reality of benevolence and love, I see something that is at best, neutral. As a consequence the odds of me recognising an experience of benevolent angels, for example, are pretty slim. I probably wouldn’t notice them until they bit me on the bottom, by which point they wouldn’t seem quite so benevolent anyway… What else have I got? I don’t know, but I’m looking. I don’t want to be at the mercy of my own unconscious misapprehensions if I can help it.
How much conflict in life comes from the clashing together of stories and beliefs on this personal level? The person who assumes they won’t be believed, and who consequently stays silent. The person who believes they are inherently unacceptable and so has to keep acting out until they find what you can’t tolerate. The person who cannot believe anything good, kind, altruistic or generous really exists so will keep imagining terrible, hidden motives to explain the compassion their reality has no space for. How many people are lugging round a unique reality and bludgeoning other people with it as a consequence?
None of us has a perfect view of self or wider reality. We all have blind spots and illusions, and I suspect that’s just one of those things about being human. We also have differences of opinion such that my functional reality may seem like crazy fantasy to other people. It’s just as dangerous to assume you are right as it is to default to the assumption that you are wrong in this.
We find out where the issues may be when two incompatible realities are banged together. How to tell which is real? Am I the ungrateful, demanding, unreasonable one, or is what I want normal, and is the other person a lazy slacker who does not know what decent behaviour looks like? We won’t ever figure that out by looking just at the two people involved. Wider context tells us a lot about how we fit in elsewhere. I’m wary of taking ‘normal’ as a measure for anything because it’s so flawed. In a room full of killers, the mass murderer is pretty normal, after all. But if only one person finds us wildly unreasonable and nobody else does, that’s certainly indicative.
The more diverse a pool of people we can draw on for this, the better. How does my work self compare to my social self, my parent self, my pagan-gathering self? Am I getting the same kinds of responses across the board? How do I feel about the people I clash with? Do I respect them and want to respond to the clash, or do I think they are idiots? Where do I want to fit? These can be useful measures, although if we are the killer in a room full of killers, metaphorically speaking, conforming to peer standards may be letting us stay in a crappy place and resisting opportunities to grow.
Someone too entrenched in their own sense of self importance will never be able to make a good assessment in this regard. Someone who cares more about seeming right than being right, will never be able to explore to see if their relationship with reality is faulty. If you can ask, and seriously consider whether you’re going the wrong way, there’s every reason to think you can also consider the issue well. Doubt and self questioning are vital tools. Self belief is also necessary to sanity. There’s a balance to strike, but if you aren’t looking for it, you won’t find it.