“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
I think this statement relates to our inner selves as well as our external lives. Life doesn’t have to be perfect and nor do we. We are a work in progress and thinking of ourselves in relation to the world and others as fixed or permanent (absolute fact and absolute truth) is very rigid. It leaves us in a weakened position incapable of change whereas we are vastly capable of growth and change, of tempering our opinions of ourselves and seeking and hearing differing perspectives to our own inner ones. Our childhood experiences may have taught us that life is a certain way for us because of our gender, ethnicity, social status, parentage, personality, learning style etc etc. These things have impact for sure, but ultimately they are not absolute facts that stop us progressing as humans.
Further to this, understanding the notion that our inner mind is not always in control of our thoughts and feelings gives us the power to have greater effect on these things. Cognitive agency is a concept I feel should be re-examined and just yesterday I found a book review of: ‘This Idea Must Die’ where this topic is addressed:
According to philosopher Thomas Metzinger, we need to let go of the idea that we always control what we are thinking and feeling.
Most of the time thinking isn’t something you do, but it’s something that just happens to you. Recent research shows a significant portion of our waking hours is spent mind-wandering – ruminating, planning, fantasizing, etc.
If you’ve ever tried meditation then you know firsthand that you aren’t in very much control of what goes on in your mind.
Letting go of the need for complete “cognitive agency” is important, because it teaches you that you don’t need to beat yourself up over every thought or emotion.
This is often the exact opposite of what is taught in a lot of self help circles – where people are told to monitor every single thought and make sure it’s positive and uplifting. And if their minds are negative, then it’s ultimately their fault.’
Sometimes our thoughts and feelings are dark, banishing these thoughts and replacing them with positive uplifting ones seems false and dangerous practice to me. If we are having negative thoughts, ‘why are we having them’ seems a better option. We can take offense at the thoughts of others or own thoughts, or we can examine them. Accepting the fact that sometimes our thoughts and feelings are random and have no true bearing on our present reality is also empowering. When we can explore our thoughts and feelings with honesty we deepen our humanity and understanding of ourselves. Well, at least I like to think so!
image un-credited on the web