Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt once said:
“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”
This quote makes me think about how the choices we make are all based upon our beliefs. I keep coming back to this subject. I’m sure that there is a deeper reason why it keeps popping up but I can’t put my finger on it. When I give seminars and workshops on effective change I really hammer home that we are responsible for our choices in what we believe.
When you are not sure what someone believes just listen to what they are saying and how they are saying it. What and how you say something tells a lot about yourself. What you say (assuming you’re honest) gives insight into what you believe; while how you say it shows what you feel about the subject at that moment.
It is important to understand that feelings are fleeting things, or at least they should be. How you feel about a thing can change from moment to moment. Your beliefs about something tend not to change as quickly. Beliefs linger. For example, I believe that pants are a good thing. I don’t like the pants I wore 10 years ago. I loved them 10 years ago. Just because I don’t like these pants does not mean that I do not believe that pants are good. Feelings are a reflection of our opinions. All of this is transitory. It will not last. Fashion changes, opinions change. Pants will always have 2 legs. If it had only one leg then we’d call it a skirt.
The best way to take ultimate responsibility is to accept that all of your choices have led you to this moment. Challenge your beliefs. Experience freedom by embracing the power of choice. Currently most people around us blindly accept the beliefs they were taught or given as children. At some point most of us question those concepts and we challenge their authority. If we discover new and more powerful beliefs then we might feel comfortable enough to let go of what we believed as children. The things our parents taught us to believe in.
Eventually there comes another decision to make as we grow older. The beliefs and ways of our parents surface again and we are forced to consider their validity. Often we see the value of the things we were taught and we return to the ways of our forefathers. It may even seem that we have given up what we have learned to return to what we know as comfortable. The moment you say that you do not want to be like your parents then you have already become them. I’m almost certain that your parents said the same things as you did. People with children understand this fact very well.
There are some of us (often childless or very determined) who continue to hold on tightly to what we have learned ourselves. It is our duty to review our beliefs regularly. When we don’t question what we already know or believe we leave ourselves vulnerable. We can become stuck in our ways, unchanging, inflexible and old. We have a responsibility to everyone we know and love to allow for change. Love with an open hand.
Should we choose not to look at our beliefs anew then we are no longer being responsible for what we truly believe. That can lead to laziness. It’s like having a beautiful piece silver and never polishing it. After a while it becomes dark and murky. The engravings become hard to read or interpret. If it’s an heirloom it will find it’s way into a hidden spot, hardly ever seen, looked at or referred to again. It is our duty to polish our beliefs like silver. They should shine and be able to stand up against critics and attacks, and with stand the other tests of time.
When your beliefs leave you feeling angry and unhappy, being inflexible and stubborn, or just plain miserable, it is a sign that what you believe is on shaky ground. Truth does not stumble, crumble or fall. It is. It just is. What you believe is true for you and that can help or hinder you.