Dudley Moore once said, “I never learned anything from anyone that totally agreed with me all the time. . .”
I learned about this quote the other day while studying different motivational interviewing skills. I started thinking about my path and whether I was open or closed minded. Well, this is what I came up with
We are all taught creatures. We are creatures of habit and when something new comes up or when an opposing view is brought to our attention, we immediately think it’s wrong because it goes against our belief system. It has to be wrong, and of course it’s wrong. It’s wrong because it goes against the way we were taught.
My good friend Todd and I talk about this all the time. We talk about a theory, which I call The Born Again Theory.
Take for example a conversation with those who have been Born Again in the eyes of God. Consider how in some cases, if a view opposes them or their belief system, they immediately counteract, and in some cases their counteraction is loud and sometimes, it’s also aggressive. It took me a while to learn this but yelling about your beliefs or opinion until someone believes them too is not passion.
Could it be?
No, I don’t believe it is . . .
Passion is a strong compelling emotion, I agree. I know what passion is because I am passionate about my beliefs as well. And there are times when I feel the need to defend my passion as strongly as I would defend my flag or my family. However, this is not what I’m talking about. Passion is good; however, there is a confusion around this term, which is often mistaken with the wrong definition.
Then please, allow me to explain.
I live my life a certain way. This lifestyle is my choice and it works for me. In the beginning of my path towards abstinence and at the start of my choices to live my life a certain way; I believed there was only one way to do this.
I believed it because I was told to believe it. I was told in no unspoken terms, “This is the only way.”
And it had to be this way. And if anyone opposed my methods or called them unnecessary, I would argue and attack their points quickly and aggressively. I would shout and quote parts of a book as if it were scripture. One could say I responded like this because I was passionate about the way I lived. But this wasn’t in my case.
Since I believe the road to bettering my life is based on self-awareness and honest self-assessment, it would be dishonest of me to say that my behavior was based on passion, —because it wasn’t based on passion at all.
Instead, my reaction was based on resentment. And I know this sounds strange; however, strange or not, the truth is I was angry and resentful about the choices I had to make. I was doubtful about them all. I didn’t believe what I was told but I was told I had no choice but to believe.
So in truth, I wasn’t arguing because I believed so deeply. No, I argued to fight back against my doubtfulness. In truth, I was arguing with me and not the opposition . . .
Why was I so angry? Why did I feel the absolute need to debate an opposing view?
If I knew I was right, would I argue?
If someone told me the sky was bright green when I knew it was blue, would I be offended? Would I be threatened? No, of course not. I would accept that my truth is much different from their truth because I know the sky isn’t bright green.
So why did I argue back when someone opposed me views as if I were defending my flag or my family?
Was it passion?
No, it was doubt.
I argued back because I was taught a certain way, and since I was taught a certain method, it couldn’t be possible that another method would work. Or worse, it couldn’t be possible that another way was easier and more efficient
The way I was taught is, “This is how it works.” and there couldn’t be any other way because all other ways never work (or so I was told).
I was told, “If you want it to work for you then you do it this way. Otherwise, it will never work and you’ll fail.”
I was told there was only one way to stop addiction. I was told there was only one way to stop depression. I was told there was only one way to stop my struggles with social anxiety and feelings of discomfort and awkwardness.
What do I call this lifestyle?
I call this fear-based living
When I argued about my lifestyle with those who believed differently, I argued about my beliefs because I was taught how to believe. I was taught how to be. And this doesn’t mean I believed what I was taught. It only means I was told “This is how to live,” and whether I liked it or not, this is what I had to do.
We do this to each other. We try to brainwash each other. And in our moments of disbelief, we repeat ourselves so often until we defeat our doubt or until we at least bury down beneath years and even decades of inaccurate programming.
Perhaps I didn’t want to live that way I did %100 and all the time. But like a torch passed from one hand to another, the teachings that were passed to me are rigid in a sense that there can be no opposing view. And there can’t be an opposing view because an opposing view would mean there might be a different path towards the same goal, —it could mean that I didn’t have to suffer through and that I could have been “Saved,” in a different way.
Opposition disturbs us.
We argue. And we rant.
The reason I argued isn’t because I believed so deeply and passionately about the way I lived. I argued because I didn’t fully believe. I argued because my arguments reflected my own lack of faith; hence, this is why my good friend Todd and I call this the Born Again theory because it is based on faith
(Trust me, no Born Agains were charged, offended, or harmed during my study)
I did not wholeheartedly believe in my lifestyle but since this is what I was told to do; and since I was told this is what I have to do, and since I did this even when I didn’t want to, an opposing view threatens my pride because somewhere deep inside me is an angry kid, afraid to feel foolish, and like a kid throwing a tantrum, the reason I reacted as I did towards opposition is I wanted to scream, “THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO DO IT BECAUSE THIS IS THE WAY I HAD TO DO IT.” And I didn’t want to do it that way. I wanted an easier, softer way. But no one showed me one at the time.
I compare this to a shopping for an item—like say, maybe a shirt or a suit. And we find that shirt or suit. We pay for it, have it delivered, and we wear it proudly. Next, we see someone wearing the same shirt and suit.
We compare notes; however upon comparison, we learn they bought the same shirt and suit for much less and in a much easier way.
Suddenly, we feel the need to defend our purchase. Suddenly, we wear that shirt and suit as a mission statement. But deep down, we feel foolish. A piece of us resents our purchase but a bigger piece of us resents the person who told us, “Oh, you could have saved yourself a lot of time, money, and heartache if you just did it this way.”
In the beginning, I wasn’t happy about my changes. Not at first.
In fact, I’m not sure I was happy about the process of change for a long time. First, I was angry that I had to change.
In a sense, I went through a divorce of some kind. It was a split. It was a life that I had to split from. I had to part from the old me and mourn the loss of my comfortable routines and old behaviors. This was painful for me.
The beginning process was painful and because I went through this and because I didn’t like it, I wanted you to do the same thing as me. Why should I have to suffer alone?
I defended my way of life because I didn’t want to be the only one that had to suffer. This way my belief system wouldn’t be opposed by yours and my childish pride wouldn’t be mad that I could have done this an entirely different way.
The world is not a black and white place. When we were young, as kids, we took what our parents told us as fact. This was gospel. And of course it was because if mom or dad say this is so —well, then it is obviously so and no other opinion could possibly be right.
There are different paths in life. There are different ways to be “Saved” so to speak. There are different ways to be “Born Again,” and just because something works or looks a certain way to me; this doesn’t mean it does or has to look that way to anyone else.
Instead of taking everything I believe and keeping myself closed in a black and white world, I have opened myself to education. I am open to different pathways now because the truth is, there are countless pathways to a better life.
Who am I to judge what works?
Truth is I only know what works for me. And for me to cripple anyone else’s growth simply because their way goes against my way is not only closed-minded and wrong; it’s actually cruel.
I don’t want to be cruel.
I just want to see change . . .
Maybe if we all decided to open our minds instead living so black or white. —maybe change would be an easier thing to do