Why you should pick your own beliefs
How I freed myself of religious doctrine
“It’s not our leaders we have to change; its our minds. …It’s about becoming conscious of just how deeply we have been programmed, how far we have strayed from our humanity and how disconnected we have become from our own divinity, our living planet, and the phenomenal power of our minds.“ Olga Sheehan
Your beliefs may be the most important factor in determining your success and happiness in life. And yet these beliefs are often hidden in your subconscious and rarely investigated.
In this article I describe the powerful impact of my childhood religious beliefs and show how I surfaced, questioned and replaced them. In my next article I describe a brand-new set of beliefs-my personal philosophy on life.
About seven years ago, as part of my journey of waking up, I read a powerful book called, “A Course in Miracles.” It introduced a whole new philosophy and contained many of my emerging thoughts about who we are as humans and why we are here on this planet. For me, it was a refreshing look at the teachings of Jesus and a possible replacement for the Bible, that I had rejected as a teen.
One day I decided to compare my childhood Catholic teachings to the teachings in “A Course in Miracles.” Here are the religious teachings I most remember:
· We humans are all born flawed and sinners.
· Suffering on earth is necessary to get to heaven.
· We can’t access God directly (we need priests).
· God is a man in the sky who decides if we go to heaven or hell when we die.
· The Bible is the only truth – the only word of God.
· We are not equal. There is a hierarchy (e.g., men then women, and animals)
· Jesus will save us one day.
For many years I had no idea how these beliefs impacted my life. Frankly I did not know I had subconscious beliefs. I guess I always thought that my brain and my thinking were completely under my control. I honestly felt I could reject any ideas and shift my beliefs at any time. I was wrong.
I had absolutely no idea how certain beliefs had become embedded in my psyche and in my cells and were impacting me day-in and day-out without my awareness. The following is an example of some of my beliefs, which have proven to be exceptionally difficult to re-program.
1. Bad and guilty. For all my life I felt I was a sinner and a bad person, just for being born. I felt I needed to change myself in order to be perfect in God’s eyes or I would go to hell. I felt enormous guilt and shame for even the smallest mistake or inappropriate action. I never felt I was loved for who I was, never felt forgiven and never felt I was perfect as I am.
2. Constant fear. I spent most of my life frightened of being judged or making a mistake. I worked 24/7 to be a “good girl” so I might be loved. I went to confession weekly to be reminded of how weak I was, to repent and to accept a punishment so I could purify my soul. I also grew to think that all humans were dangerous and not to be trusted.
3. Not good enough. The feeling that I was not good enough become my single most powerful core belief. It still exists today. It came with a massive cost to my self-esteem and drove me to compulsively achieve. I thought that resting was a sign of laziness and self-care was selfishness.
4. No love for God. To me, God was both a judge and obviously completely separate from me. He was above me and I was inferior. I worshipped him. Thus, my main relationship with God involved prayers, usually for help from my wickedness. Although I was told that God loved me, I had no love for him. Why would I love him?
5. No respect for women. I was taught that women are inferior to men and I was to be obedient and subservient to all men – especially my father and husband. As a female I was not allowed to be an alter boy, a priest or pope. I observed that women are only valued as virgins or mothers. The story of Adam and Eve was imprinted on me (see my article: “The Harm of the Myth of Adam and Eve”) so I believed that women caused the downfall of humanity.
6. Body shame. I was taught that my flesh is weak and dirty. And so is sex. Thus, I did not like my body or feminine sensuality. And I feared men’s sexuality. I was ashamed of my natural desires and all sex (which was a sin out of wedlock). With few women role models in the bible, I saw Mary Magdalene as a whore – although I recently learned that she was the wife of Jesus! I thought that “women like her” deserved to be shamed for all time.
7. No trust in self. I was taught to be suspicious of my intuition and deepest knowing since it might be the voice of the devil. I was told that the only truth was written in the bible. It was the word of God and it could only come through priests. I did not trust my own body, my bodily rhythms, or the seasons of nature. I did not trust that small inner voice inside of me (that is my soul). I did not know it existed.
As you can see, the beliefs that I was taught had a profound impact on me and took years to re-program. To this day, they still impact my sense of self and my views of the world. It makes me sad to know that because of this indoctrination I lived a small and fearful life. Author Olga Sheehan discovered that these teachings are not only destructive and invisible but extend to the way we see the whole world:
“This destructive programming has become so deeply embedded in the psyche that most people are completely unaware of it running - often ruining - their lives. … Our self-reject, self-destruct programming is now so deeply engrained, its reach so pervasive, and its impact so catastrophic, that we fail to see the bigger picture. We think disease is normal; political corruption is inevitable; and environmental destruction is necessary for global advancement.”
Most importantly my example shows the importance of questioning all that we are told and adopting beliefs that support us each as ever-evolving, beautiful, loving and powerful human beings.
Your beliefs are vital to who you are and how you live your life. They should never be taken lightly. They essentially create your reality. So always pick you own beliefs. As David Hawkins (“Letting Go”) says:
“Once we have looked deep within ourselves and found that innate inner innocence, we will stop hating ourselves and stop buying into the condemnation of others and their subtle attempts to invalidate our worth as human beings. It’s time to re-own our power and stop giving it way to every passing scammer who joggles our fears…or enslaves us to their cause.“
In my next entries I talk about:
My new philosophy on life – Five critical beliefs to live by
Is there a God? and other important questions
Thank you for joining me.
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