Personal Convictions – Know Them. Own Them. Live Them.
As we enter a new year, the internet and social media is flooded with quotes and memes encouraging us to pursue dreams, proclaim resolutions, lose weight, change careers, believe in ourselves, love freely, etc. (I’m guilty, I posted one today as well.) And while things are perfectly wonderful and a part of every New Year celebration, I would like to propose a slightly different approach on something to carry over into 2018 – Your Personal Convictions.
It is my opinion that we live in a world that often asks us to question our convictions. We are accused of being closed-minded, out-of-date, insensitive or stubborn if we do not choose to adopt the cause/idea/thought of the day/time/movement. It is my goal, today, as the calendar rolls over into a brand new year, to encourage you, my Hopefuls, to stand firm in your values and in your core beliefs.
Now, before we go any further, let me say, that I am not talking about rejecting anything new or progressive. Life, love and the world are constantly evolving, and it benefits us tremendously to embrace a spirit of open-mindedness. By this, I mean it is great to be curious, to consider to the ideas of others, to talk and exchange views. Listening is a great tool (and one we could all utilize more). When we hear (listen to) the opinions of others, it should be to gain knowledge and not always to argue or offer opposition. We may learn a new side to an issue or discover facts that might alter or enhance our own outlook. It is a good and positive thing to accept that our convictions and beliefs can evolve over time; with thought and consideration. My concern, however, is for those who blindly follow the masses with what is known as “Herd Mentality”.
If asked individually, most would issue a strong denial, however, many of us fall into the category of being persuaded by our culture, friends or even social media to conform to certain beliefs. Few people actually relish the idea of standing alone. It is even a scientific fact that our brains fight against this very thing. When we take a differing stance from those around us, there is a portion of our brain (the anterior cingulate cortex) which actually sends out an ‘opps’ or ‘error’ signal that makes us question ourselves to be sure of our position. Here is an example.
There was an experiment carried out with ten people. They were each shown three lines together on a board; A in the middle and B and C on either side. They were to decide, in a specific order, and out loud, which line (B or C) was closer to the middle line A. One by one they all said Line B. When it came time for the last woman to give her choice, she also said Line B. At the end of experiment, it was revealed that the first nine people were in on it and were all told to say Line B, even though Line C was indeed the correct answer. By the time her turn came around, the woman (who thought C was correct) was too intimidated and lacked enough self confidence to go with what she really thought was the right answer; so she followed the herd. When asked about it, she admitted that she didn’t want to stand out or look stupid. She would rather be wrong with the crowd than risk being right all by herself. (How many of us have done something similar?)
There was another study where a group of people where put in a room and told to walk around randomly without speaking to anyone. Two of the people were secretly told to walk in specific patterns with a bold stride. Before long, everyone else in the room was blindly following one of those two individuals. The point of the experiment was to show that being confident is often all it takes for some to follow. But confidence in one’s beliefs does not always mean they are right.
My mother was a simple, but extremely wise woman. Whenever I would struggle with belief systems or become persuaded with flowering speech, she always encouraged me to trust my instincts and know who I was and what I stood for. One of her favorite expressions was, “Someone can be sincere and still be sincerely wrong.” There are many passionate people in the world who will fight to defend their position. And for them, they truly believe and embrace that position. I am not here to pass judgement on another’s right to their opinions; I just want to encourage everyone reading these words, to hold on to theirs!
Did you know that former Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn gave one piece of advice to all new members of Congress? His famous quote was, “If you want to get along, you have to go along.” (Seems to me that might be why our political system is a little awry.) I would strongly encourage you to do the opposite. Do not ‘go along, just to get along’. Know what you believe, and why. Determine your own path. Practice self-discipline (and not just with a diet and health plan). Take pride in your integrity and have the courage to defend and stand up for what you believe to be right. I would never ask anyone to be a bully or obnoxious. We do not need to adopt the mantra; “I Shall Not Be Moved.” Be gracious. Show understanding and compassion. Walk peacefully, but walk with a purpose; your purpose. Do not be deterred or shy away from the beliefs and core values that you have adopted for your life.
My Hopefuls, as this new year dawns, my wish is that each of you view the coming days with awe and a sense of adventure. I truly hope that this can be your best life now! I am so very thankful for your part in my journey and excited to find out what lies ahead for all of us. Believe in yourself and your worth.
Be open to ideas, but hold tightly to ideals; and please know the difference.
And always, always, always.
HOPE WITH ABANDON!