We all have these opinions that go unprocessed and, quite often, unnoticed.
They arrive unbidden.
What on earth is she wearing? Urgh, an emoji response: that’s so weird and rude. The opinions trail us wherever we go, the minor acts of terrorism, keeping our minds occupied with the trivial and mundane. Eventually, we are bewildered as to how our lives ended up so small and mean. And why we feel so isolated.
Unprocessed opinions are activated at the slightest of provocations. Disquieted, rumbled from their hiding places. Out come the anger and self-righteousness, judgment and blame.
Sometimes, we get a false sense of progress; of taking a stand for our values. But the only thing we took a stand for is self violence, and an atmosphere that is oppressive to the one of compassion and acceptance that we all so deeply crave.
Generally, a higher number of opinions equates to higher fear.
Frequency of opinions is the hallmark of a chronic overthinker. Unprocessed opinions are the chief affliction of rational, left-brain thinking, Western brains. Investigative, suspicious minds form opinions at unprecedented rates. The absence of humility makes self-awareness impossible.
We operate on the understandable assumption that our myriad identifications, our unconscious ways of reducing existential uncertainty, serve us. But they only show us how terrified we really are.
We pay the price for these opinions. They prevent us from elevating thought. We can never act in the face of our fears without doing that. And sane living requires a facing off of fears, more than occasionally.
They’re effect is to leave us fundamentally unprepared for life and reality. We have a suitcase full of suits, but no underwear.
We cannot become opinion-less. But we can process our opinions by becoming curious about them.
Opinions, processed, offer us unparalleled opportunities for self-seeing. George Orwell said it is hard to see what is underneath our nose. Having unprocessed opinions is easier.
Processed opinions show us Shadow material, repressed desires and emotions. They tell us who we are in the process of showing us who we are not. They are an unexploited revenue stream, the evidence of ego. We need to meet them with inquiry.
Regularly occurring opinions, protected from examination and nurtured over time, form unconscious beliefs. That long car journey in stony silence was awful becomes I don’t like long car journeys. He’s a dickhead becomes I hate Republicans.
Nobody tapped the belief on the shoulder to double check it was legit. Whether it held up. Nobody Judge Judy’d it. Our perspectives narrow to accommodate only what we can accommodate, feeding back to us more of the same.
Unexamined beliefs appear aside from our opinions. I’m no good at maths. I’m hopeless at dealing with people. Such beliefs spring from the self-construct, which itself was formed in response to other people’s beliefs! It is a delicious web of deceit. Such is the power of the words directed to us from others. But what about the words we tell ourselves? Who gave them any less sway?
Unfortunately, like food, beliefs are necessary; we cannot go on a diet of beliefs. Beliefs are what lure us out of bed in the morning, and get us to bed at a decent time.
But they need to be noticed, their origin questioned. And afterwards, held loosely. Grasping to beliefs is the root of all our discord and disharmony. The silent formulation of a belief hierarchy a weapon of mass separation.
A conviction is a belief that has stood the test of time.
If, in belief anatomy, opinion is the skin, and belief is the tissue, maybe conviction is the heart.
Believe a belief enough, and it becomes a conviction. Conviction gets constructed by belief on repeat.
Funnily, we are a breed of few convictions. Many opinions, many beliefs, but few convictions. We got it the wrong way around.
Conviction is the most conscious of the rigid thought forms. I have a conviction that writing and yoga support the person I want to be, more than using Instagram 24/7 and having copious promiscuous sex (or vice versa, as the case happens to be). Where the beliefs and opinions keep us trapped, the convictions give us the boundaries in which to be free. When we are convicted, we are firm but flexible, resilient but adaptable. We are an under-ripe banana.
The outcome of fewer opinions and beliefs, and a few carefully chosen convictions, is alleviation in our existential angst. It is clarity and purpose and lightness of being.
But not before an initiation, a period of narcissistic self reflection as we unburden ourselves of the opinions and beliefs we never knowingly selected. When we have all done it (and only then), perhaps we can meet in the field that the poet, Rumi, spoke about ‘out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing’.
I’ll meet you there.