I know how difficult it can be, once we’re knocked off the path, to find our direction again. First, we have to figure out if our being knocked off the path served its purpose and we should get back to where we were going, or if we’re meant to change directions altogether. That alone can be a major challenge due to our resistance to change.
I have yet to meet anyone who likes change. It’s so much easier for us to continue on the path we’re used to, and there are so many reasons not to change. Comfort comes first. We like the comfort of familiarity. We like routine, and to make plans based on our history because the outcomes are more predictable, as well as our ancestries because it means we’re following tradition. To do otherwise might also dishonor our parents or ancestors.
I would say, in a “life experience and well read,” rather than a “degreed or certified” way, that the next reason for not changing would be what we believe. Beliefs play a bigger role in our lives than we give them credit for. Some beliefs are so ingrained in us that we carry them in our subconscious, rather than conscious, minds. They’re more like a habit than they are a conscious decision.
Digging up those beliefs can be very difficult. We first have to identify what it is that we believe. Believe it or not (pun intended), there are a lot of people who go their entire lives not really knowing what it is they believe. Psychology tells us that many of our beliefs, based on our perspective of how the world works, are established by the time we’re seven years old. Seven years old!
During my first seven years, my severely mentally ill father controlled my everything. I was, in turn and sometimes combined, sexually abused, raped, beaten, starved, sleep deprived, isolated, drowned, smothered, restrained, tortured in other ways, and brainwashed. Out of it all, the most difficult to recover from was the brainwashing.
Among the ideas that my father planted in my pliable brain those first seven years were that I was fathered by the devil, inherently evil as proven by a birthmark on my forehead he referred to as “the mark of Cain,” useless, worthless, stupid, ugly, and that if I were to ever succeed at anything it would be through trickery and falsehoods, which would be discovered and revealed publicly so that I would be shamed. To top it off, even God had abandoned any hope of my redemption, and would therefore ignore any and all of my prayers and entreaties.
In the light of day and on the other side of therapy, those thoughts can be seen for what they were—either my father’s own fears about himself or symptoms of his sadistic mental illnesses. As a child, and even through my beginning adulthood, they were as if written in stone, running my mind and my life. Much of what I did was a reflection of them, a reaction to them, or rebellion against them in order to prove him wrong. Some became so buried in my subconscious over time that I wasn’t aware they were affecting my actions.
It was only because I faced a personal crisis from being in progressively abusive relationships, with my low self-esteem reaching a suicidal bottom in my early 30’s, that I began to seriously undertake a study of who I was and why I acted as I did. For two years, I saw a therapist at least weekly, trying to identify what my beliefs were, untangle and dig these thoughts up out of my subconscious, and incinerate them with logic and reality so the they couldn’t re-root. It was, I thought at the time, the hardest thing I would ever be called to do.
Some of the negative messages, with their religious overtones, are part of what led me into the study of religion. I wanted to find where they came from—whether from religion itself, my father’s sick mind, or a combination of the two.
Another reason I became immersed in biblical scholarship and archaeology was because, when my belief system was essentially removed, I didn’t know what to believe. And at the top of that list was what to believe about God, and my relationship to God.
What I ended up finding were both of those things, as well as establishing my relationship with God.
And that, my friends, is where we will stop until next time. Have a lovely weekend!
Much Love and Many Blessings,