Most of us have heard that a key to happiness is detaching from our future. We know the dangers of getting too attached to things that aren’t certain…new jobs and new partners and rain-free vacations.
Detaching from the past, however, isn’t nearly as popular of a concept. And yet it might be even more important.
Think about it.
We are all brought up learning lessons and beliefs that are stated as absolute truths. And we assume everyone else believes them, too.
…everyone believes that boys shouldn’t ever show fear….
…everyone believes it’s important to go to a certain church on a certain day…
…everyone feels that wearing designer clothes reflects success…
We learn these lessons from lots of people throughout our lives. Parents and teachers and friends definitively exclaim how things are in the beginning…then new colleagues and the media join in. And many of them mean well.
Before we know it we’ve got a whole bunch of beliefs about life…about the way things should be…that actually might not be true. At least not for us.
Sometimes, when we run up against a belief that no longer works for us, it turns into a terrible mind game. We feel like we’ve done something wrong. Like we’ve failed.
We don’t consider that the problem might be with the belief itself.
Need a few examples? Here are just a few beliefs each should be eyeing careful attention to:
- Everyone should have kids
- Taller is more attractive
- You must vote a certain way
- Failure means you just didn’t try hard enough
- For the ladies, the thinner you are the better you are
- And…true professionals work their butts off, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., every weekday.
Detachment from the past can be done in all kinds of circumstances. Even simple attitudes or judgments about something or someone are up for detachment grabs. We can choose to detach from them, to start fresh.
Of course, not everything is about detachment. There will be core values you have throughout your entire life. There will be hard lessons you want to hold on to. There will be a passionate belief in the soothing power of mint chip ice cream that will persevere from childhood to death.
But there will be other beliefs that will evolve and change over time. There may be some that, frankly, were never right for you in the first place.
The important thing is to recognize when a belief runs up against a different truth inside of you, to catch the mind game before it starts.
To understand that the truth of a lesson learned long ago (or not-so-long-ago) simply might not apply to you. Or, it might not apply to you anymore.
And then? Challenge the belief head-on. Consider where it came from. Consider whether you might want to detach from it.
Remind yourself that life choices are different for different people at different times in their lives. That other people’s beliefs might not always apply.
Go on, delve deeply on the beliefs you’ve acquired over time, and don’t be hesitant to challenge such beliefs. For your growth and well-being, nothing should hinder you, even the long-established and widely-accepted notions and conventions. At the end of the day, you’ll be smiling at the world for the freedom you’ve achieved!…I catch myself saying these words early this morning.