One of the greatest pitfalls of belief is the fact that anyone rarely lives up to it. The declaration of belief is the not the same thing as setting an example for the system or ideology itself. Whether this is done due to blatant hypocrisy or just a lack of awareness, belief loses meaning if one does not stand by it.
This is how one finds themselves going through the motions of a given practice or ideology without actually living it. For example, it’s easy to go to church, temple or any other gathering on a weekly basis and listen to sermons, speeches or lessons, but how often does one take what they have heard and actively apply it to their actions in the real world?
But how does one know if what they believe is correct to carry out in daily life? What if someone is a little “iffy” on what they believe? How can anyone know if they are contradicting what they believe in their actions?
Once one has determined what their beliefs are (religious, ethical, political or otherwise) or could possibly be, one has to figure out how they can be applied to daily life. If there is doubt as to whether or not a belief works, the quickest way to determine if the belief has validity or meaning is through mind-gut agreement. Mind-gut agreement refers to whether there is a mutual acceptance of something both in terms of mental rationale and feeling (gut reaction).
It is easy enough to rationalize a belief to the point where it sounds like a good idea. However, it isn’t until it gets put to use (tested, if you will) that we figure out where the problems may exist in a concept. If the mind agrees with the idea, but there is a nagging twinge of doubt, chances are there is something wrong with the belief. That doubtful feeling or hesitation on a subconscious level (usually characterized by an anxious twinge around the solar plexus or stomach) is a red flag that something needs to be re-evaluated.
The same thing will happen if one is not living up to their beliefs. Ever had that feeling that you were about to do something you really shouldn’t be doing, but couldn’t really come up with an exact reason why?
Sometimes a conflict in one’s actions and beliefs cannot be seen so clearly on the surface, but the subconscious is very well aware that the two are not lining up. This is usually the time to take a step back and clearly look at the situation from all angles. Have all possible consequences been considered in the action? How could this action go against a prescribed ethic or belief? What would be a better course of action to appease the two?
Out with the old
Interestingly enough, the mind-gut agreement will not match when it is time to re-evaluate what one believes. Since the mind is particularly fond of patterns, it is not uncommon that one will stick with a given way of dealing with issues out of habit. Yet one day, when one goes about doing what they have always been doing, that nagging gut reaction begins to argue. It’s usually the first sign that something has changed, that the experiences gathered to this point no longer support what was believed prior.
The best way to figure this one out is if this internal conflict takes place on a somewhat regular basis regarding a specific core value. If the core value is that one should always speak up and say what is known to be true, but the person has been experiencing some level of anxiety over carrying it out, then it is time to assess why the conflict has there. Usually, there is a negative experience behind it. The experience has to be evaluated as to whether or not it is valid or invalid. After all, it’s not uncommon to pay a price for doing what was thought to be right. However, some experiences (as bad as they may be) are flukes, not the way things normally operate and cannot be relied upon as a good measuring ground for whether or not a belief should be questioned. Other times, they could be very important for making such a determination.
Some clear thinking and honesty needs to be employed to determine if the belief itself is the problem, the situation was faulty or that maybe the core value just needs to be modified. One of the patterns that people frequently fall into is the idea of binary opposition, that things are either in one category or another … all or nothing. This tendency causes us to disregard or be very uncomfortable with gray areas. Telling the truth and lying are very black and white concepts for most people. However, there is a gray area between the two that is often overlooked, and that would be the option not to do either. And since life is well known for giving us “gray” situations every day, it is easy to see how such definitive categorizing of such concepts can lead to problems.
Regardless of the situation, the mind-gut agreement is a good guideline to use when coming to terms with beliefs, why the beliefs exist and how to put those beliefs into practice. A great source of unhappiness for the majority is that life seems to be one big lie. There is a general conflict between how one lives and how they feel they should live. A way to achieve a sense of inner balance is to reconcile the two by listening to both the conscious and subconscious mind and doing some analysis. In this way, one can put to an end the feeling of being at odds with oneself.