beliefs I have grown out of

Beliefs I’ve grown out of

Continuing the discussion of ideologies that silently grow into our lives and take hold, I will admit to my own.

I was brought up in a culture where education was the centre piece of the altar. I think this is still the case for a lot of people. In theory, education is the answer to a lot of problems, but difficulties come to the fore when you realise that there is big difference between education and formal education. I suppose the difference is analogous to the difference between morality and organised religion. Even when you go to educate yourself, the authority-loving methods learnt during formal education betray us. It took me a long time to start reading books without looking for ready-made answers to life’s problems.

When I got a little older, I went on a major health kick, only to realise that humans did not evolve to be orthorexic with a regular HIIT exercise schedule. I rejoice at articles like this.

In my late twenties, my ideological difficulties centre around the subjects of family and meaningful work. Family has always been a confusing subject for me. I think that families are fascinatingly different. Second wave feminism was going strong as well when I was a child and I am sure it affected me. I was recently reading a memoir of a woman who lived in the Ukraine during the October Revolution. It seemed that nothing really mattered to her so long as she had her family. I also read a lot of essays by secondary school (high school) students and interestingly the film Juno is on the curriculum. Most students conclude that your friends are your real family, not your biological relatives – and not just from Juno, but in their personal essays as well. Is that just a sign of the times?

One thing I learnt is that it’s dangerous to become too focused on just one aspect of life, even if it is the most virtuous thing you can think of.

Anyway, I am more interested in hearing about ideologies that you lived through and debunked.

26 thoughts on “Beliefs I’ve grown out of”

  1. I was raised by a mother who believed that education beyond grade eleven was unnecessary for young women. Her thought was that we would learn secretarial skills, meet our husbands, and dedicate our lives to family and home. I broke tradition by seeking higher education, and failed at marriages, so we still argue the fact.
    Your comment on “Juno” is interesting, as I have noted that many of the current programs aimed at youth, depict adults as fools and peers as the only hope. I find this way of thinking to be detrimental to progress. Interesting post.

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    1. I think that our relationships with our parents are oh so difficult. They project so much of themselves on us and most of us are so dependent on their approval. Those relationships can be quite dysfunctional. Figuring out precise boundaries for this is an ongoing job for me.
      When I was a teenager, there was certainly an attitude to adults as being manipulating, unauthentic and not worthy of trust, so it’s not an entirely new cultural thing

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  2. I’ll be 70 soon and learning to be more authentic has been one big debunking process. Not sure this is an ideology, but currently, I’m coming to terms with the myth that I have to look good to be worth the air I breathe. High time! Don’t get me wrong, I like to look as nice as I can and enjoy primping, but it’s more about self-love now than desperation! My parents were both very image-conscious so I came by it honestly.

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    1. Thanks for saying that – that has to be the most authentic thing I’ve heard in a long time. I used to be friends with a man whose appearance was always perfect. We were close friends and he told me about his parents. Apparently he had barely ever seen his mother without make up and her hair done. He also always fascinated me with how he cared about what others thought of him, I mean he really really cared, to the point of perfectionism. So like you said, it was more about feeling good enough and proving that you’re worthy of attention and hence get a self-esteem boost, a relief from the baseline of desperation.

      I was probably like that for a short period, but my perfectionism centred around career accomplishments. It took a long time for me to understand that I am a completely separate entity to those around me. They are entitled to their opinion and my world is separate to theirs. I respect their right to subjectivity. It comes down to a concept of locus of control:

      Mine oscillated a huge amount from its rightful place. There was the overly internal, neurotic locus of control – “I am responsible for what people think of me” to the overly external, needy locus of control – “My self-esteem is determined by what others think of me”. It takes a lot of self-awareness and authenticity to remember to put it back where it should be.

      Then there was another friend, who was also a very vain type for lack of a better word, and he stopped having any interest in me. It was a really painful experience and one that really hammered it home that I simply cannot control how other people feel about me, nor would I like to live in a world where I could. On that back of that, at the time I wrote a big long spiel about it here

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  3. Can’t agree more re education (formal vs lifelong learning), importance of family and meaningful work, and not focusing on just one thing in life!
    I’ve always enjoyed the idea of variety in life and combination of different work projects/hobbies, but only recently decided to take this step forward and actually start living my dream life. It feels amazing!!
    PS Love your blog 🙂

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  4. I grew up with a father that was hypercritical of anyone that had a point of view that differed from his own belief system (very liberal). Although I would still categorize myself as a liberal, I find that people with different point of views are very interesting, and I often learn a lot from those I disagree with.

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    1. Haha, that’s the most peculiar thing when liberal people are like that. I think that being liberal presupposes being pluralist. Otherwise, it’s just a another brand of closed-mindedness.

      I think it’s my personality, but I actually feel uneasy, like I am missing something when people agree with me on my views. It’s almost as though I am convinced that if there isn’t even a slight bit of disagreement, a person just isn’t relaxed enough to tell me what they really think. But I can’t be that different from most – and there is a really cool (albeit messy experiment) that shows that we LOVE it when people agree with us. I will describe it in detail soon 🙂

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  5. Authenticity is a hot topic now and I relate it to your observations about religion and education. I believe anything that is pure in purpose becomes distorted when we “organize” and formalize it (reading for the sake of it vs assigned reading). The dysfunction inherent in organizations does something to make it less altruistic. While I haven’t seen Juno, I do think the current generation rebukes structure, which is some of what “family” represents—the “worship” of ideologies and institutions that are familiar and consta.

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    1. “Dysfunction inherent in organisations” – love that. In fact, I would say that trying to organise and structure everything is a bad idea. People love organising things. My instagram is full of beautifully organised make up, folders, living rooms, looks… ultimately, the process of organising something takes something away (while often adding something else). I’ve never considered the idea that organising may be harmful (even if it is net beneficial). Thanks for the thought 🎀

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  6. Oops…finishing that thought…

    Familiar and constant. My family’s altar is hard work. I have learned to step back and observe whether I am falling into that ingrained behavior of working harder=noble=success.

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  7. I would like to share a bit of writing that reflects a bit about how I have processed the creation of identify through the weaving of one’s family of origin’s guiding principles, principles, and morals

    The personal story is a narrative of our unique sense of identity. We create our identities through the stories we weave onto a tapestry that is formed against the background of our family mythologies. We pull threads from of an assemblage of recalled details from our pasts and weaved them into images that cast us in whatever role corresponds with our current situations, feelings, thoughts, or actions. The colored threads of this tapestry are often re-embroidered to reflect the creative and dynamic process of our perspectives as we shift in, out, and between various roles, feeling states, and cognitions. As we reflect on our self-created images we are in turn affected by them; therefore, there is an unconscious re-weaving of our tapestries.

    Our self-stories as well as our family mythologies create and maintain our identities and thus influence how we anticipate experiences, act, and subsequently interpret our situation. Becoming aware of the tapestry and images we are creating frees us to review patterned behaviors, reframe our story through different colored concepts, and to release rigid interpretations.

    cited: “A Meditative Journey with Saldage”

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  8. Ideologies imposed and rejected… All of them?
    I’m fairly certain that by age 20 I’d pretty much rejected everything my parents and culture thought to impose on my psyche as expectations of behavior or thought.

    • I hated school, but enjoy learning.
    • I despise authority, but understand and value hierarchy regarding big tasks.
    • I detested all religions, still do, but understand that for billions of weak-minded it serves as comfort and solace when the universe becomes overtly oppressive.
    • I realized early on that science was a process not a result, but often felt compelled to point to scientific evidence as “proof” of something or other, and still do at times.
    • I accepted, regardless of all the pressures to the opposite, that life is futile and the universe, is indeed, absurd (a recent phrase, yes, but the theme is backlogged to my formative years). Yet, as long as I could distract myself, and there are myriad distractions in the world, that even though my core tenet was “nothing really matters” and “heat death of the universe”, I could avoid infecting those around me with that ideology. And this was important as I knew that I had no right to taint other’s minds to such a nihilistic viewpoint. And in fact, I rather envy those who find and pursue purpose (even though I know none exists).

    Maybe being a young Caucasian male in the 60’s/70’s afforded me the luxury of rejecting every ideology around me with few repercussions or ramifications?

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    1. That’s an interesting journey. Is there not a lot of comfort and solace in nihilism though? I think there is! “There’s no point”, so there’s no need to get upset when something doesn’t go your way. There’s no need to try harder. There’s no point in hoping or fearing because nothing matters, hence there is no disappointment of unmet expectations.

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      1. Such a philosophy is rather a curse and a blessing don’t you think? Some days I’d like to wish it away. On others the perspective is liberating (not really comforting I think.)
        Have you heard of Titus Lucretius?

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    2. Anony, I can count myself one of the members who distain school but love learning, as well as those who detest “Religion”; a worthless set of rules that does nothing but hinder goodness or expressing love. I was rather encouraged that you accepted the end of the road; rejecting an absolute and accepting it’s antithesis, though I am disheartened at the thought that you simply try to “forget” it. As of late I’ve come to think that Truth, in order to be fully believed must be taken to both the mind and heart. I’m not saying you don’t actually believe in Nihilism, though with the above definition you believe it only to a certain extent. But perhaps I’m wrong. What are your thoughts?

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      1. We’ve discussed Nihilism here before. My personal interpretation is that there are no real nihilists — as as soon as one fully accepts the utter futility of existence the only possible next step is suicide. And, as I’m still writing thi

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    1. There was a Ted Talk I watched with an economist speaking about how with the number of choices that can be made it tends to shut us down from making one at all. Though, it was only one video. I haven’t looked into it much after that.

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    2. Was it Poggio who “re-found” Lucretius’s manuscript, The Nature of Things? Anyway, it’s a real pain to read, but there’s some pretty insightful stuff in it. Talk of death and religion and even — the Atom! But there’s easier ways to consume it — like a quote service:
      “To fear death, then, is foolish, since death is the final and complete annihilation of personal identity, the ultimate release from anxiety and pain.”

      He and Epicurus had it down!



  9. I’ve had a strange journey through the course of my life thus far; being raised a Christian, rejecting it, accepting it, doubting once more, cycling through until I accept Christianity, and finding myself rejecting the religion of my parents. It’s altered in various ways, bringing my point of view closer with them at some points and others drastically farther away.

    Personally, I’ve interested in your fundamental Ideological shift, though I realize the mess you could be in if you do; aligning yourself with one of the many “parties” and shunned by all others as a fool. It’s unfortunate that we hold them closer than persons of our own species; our own flesh and blood.


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