Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Why do I believe that?

The belief that there is only one truth, and that oneself is in possession of it, is the root of all evil in the world. Max Born
from my iPhone
Fall arrives early in this land at the foot of the Rockies. Golden bursts of colour appear, spreading out like amoebae splitting on a petri dish as days shorten and nights grow cooler.

We don't get the reds of an Eastern autumn here in Alberta. Our Chinooks, those warm blasts of wind that sweep down from the Rockies raising temperatures precipitously in the depths of freezing winter, are too hazardous for maples.

Maples welcome a Chinook wind's warm breezes too eagerly. Their root system is not designed to withstand nature's teasing. They are too easily fooled into believing every warm breath of air is announcing springs arrival. Awoken from winter slumber, when winter descends again with its harsh cold reality, the maple is incapable of withstanding the frigid nature of winter's embrace.

Now, I don't know if that really is why Maples don't grow in Alberta. Somewhere in my brain, that piece of information lodged between neurons and synapses and it is the piece of information I extracted to explain the lack of red hues on autumn leaves in our province.

Like so many pieces of information, it remains unexamined. Unchallenged. Untested.

I wonder where it comes from. How it got there. Did I read it in a school book long ago? Did someone tell me once, when first I moved from Ontario to this province and queried the lack of Maples? Did I make it up?

Like beliefs I have about myself.

Some are fact.

I am 5'3" tall. English is my mother tongue. I am the youngest child of four, one of whom passed away. I have two daughters. I have no false teeth.

The beliefs are trickier. I am capable of anything I set my mind to. I don't 'do' math. I can't read music. Anymore. Used to be able to. Had my Grade 8 theory. Once. So, while the music reading muscle is weak, it actually doesn't mean I 'can't' read music. It means, I'm out of practice.

It's like my belief about my artistic ability. Until my forties, I was firm in my belief -- I have no artistic ability. I'm a writer. I don't draw or paint or do visual arts.

I proved myself wrong when I chose to examine that belief and test its validity.

I love painting. It's one of my passion. In fact, it is the reason I began the art program at the shelter where I work. I know how powerful a healing medium painting is and believed providing people the opportunity to explore their creative souls would benefit them on their journey out of homelessness.

I was right.

And yet, everyday I meet people who don't believe me. They say, 'that's nice for you but I can't paint.' Or, 'I remember my grade 2 teacher telling me I'd never be an artist, or a writer, or anything creative.' And based on the opinions of someone who had no right to tell them who they were or what they could do, they packed up all artistic expression in their life.

Like me with math. Years ago, to prove to myself I could do math and that I was good with money (another belief I hold is that I am not good with money), I became a stockbroker.

I know. Shocking.

For four years I worked in the financial realm, coaching people on how to conserve, preserve and grow their financial well-being.

I sucked.

Oh. I was good at the planning part. Good at the longterm strategies for building wealth, off-setting taxes and all that.

But as a day to day trader? Seriously, I sucked.

Mostly because -- truly, it wasn't my love. It felt so artificial to me. So, false. To tell someone, this stock has great promise as if I could predict the future rise and fall of a market based on the charts and graphs of past performances. I quickly learned the stockmarket is not in what you know, it's in how willing you are to take a risk on what you don't know.

And I am not a good risk-taker when it comes to not knowing. Stock-broking wasn't me.

But I did learn something of value. It isn't that I don't 'do' numbers. It is that I'm not interested in doing them.

They don't have the same appeal as words. For me.

And that is the thing about these beliefs we hold as facts. We often don't really know they're true, or not. We make them true for ourselves and then hold fast to their limitations.

So here's an exercise for you today. See if you can catch how many times you state something as fact without examining the validity of your belief.

Just observe. Don't judge.

See if there are some beliefs lurking in your psyche that are keeping you from experiencing the full colour spectrum of life simply because, somewhere within you is the belief, 'I can't do that.'



Glynn said...

Great minds think...somewhere. Maybe it's something in the air that we would right on similar topics. I had to stretch it to make it fit the Lewis chapterfor this week, but it got in my head and wouldn't let go. And we need to leave the judging to Someone Else.

Anonymous said...


nice piece

nice distraction

you are deflecting, are you not?

from what is really going on in your belly?

from reading this, the only think I know for sure is that you are not returning to stock-brokerage

so, what's up with you?


Maureen said...

Thought-provoking question, a good one.

S. Etole said...

too many to challenge ... hmmm, would that be one?!

David Rupert said...

Honest assessments of our skills are really healthy. So many people are doing things, chasing dreams that they have no business pursuing. Likewise, there are many too afraid to paint, or trade, or run a business.