[Tweet ” ‘There is a wisdom of the head and a wisdom of the heart’ Charles Dickens”]
Beliefs are powerful things. For thousands of years human beings have been prepared to die in defense of their beliefs or kill to impose their beliefs on others.
We all have a belief system.
We create models of reality, the internal reference maps we use to navigate our way around the world. Those maps are constructed from interaction with the environment in which we find our self by accident of birth; primarily by our experience of family, society and culture.
As a psychotherapist and therapeutic coach, my work is often about shifting paradigms. The trouble is, we tend to mistake our ‘beliefs’ for ‘truths’.
A paradigm shift
Sometimes you see, hear or experience something which causes a paradigm shift. You change your world view and all the paperwork in your head has to reshuffle as your perception is challenged.
My favourite example of a paradigm shift is from the book by Steve Covey called ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.’ In the book, he talks about a journey on a New York subway one Sunday morning.
The compartment was quiet with people either reading newspapers or gazing sleepily out of the window. Suddenly, the doors opened and a man entered accompanied by several unruly children who began running up and down the carriageway, bumping into people and knocking into newspapers.
Eyes rolled heavenward as the man, who Covey took to be the father of the children came and sat beside him. After a few minutes, Covey felt obliged to lean over and suggest to the man that he should do something about his children.
The man glanced over at Covey almost as though he was waking from a dream and said, ‘I know I should do something about my children, but I’ve just come from the hospital where their mother died early this morning…. and I don’t know what to do about my children.’
Stories, poetry and wise sayings have the power to change your world view.
I have been harvesting stories now for many years in my professional efforts to have just the right story, for the right client, at the right time. Whilst writing for the Fusion quarterly newsletter recently, I realised I had juxtaposed two insightful pieces from very different sources.
‘Mullah’ or ‘mulla’ refers to a wise man or master. The Mulla Nasrudin tales have been passed down for many centuries. They are, by turn, amusing, wise and philosophical. It is thought that the Mulla Nasrudin character is based on a real man who lived in the 1300s. There are thousands of different Nasrudin stories and one can be found to fit almost any occasion.
Nasrudin grows old and wise
Nasrudin was now an old man looking back on his life. He sat with his friends in the tea shop telling his story.
‘When I was young I was fierce. I wanted to awaken everyone.
I prayed to God to give me the strength to change the world.’
In mid life I awoke one day and realised my life was half over and I had changed no one, so I prayed to God to give me the strength to change those close around me who so much needed it.
Alas, now I am old and my prayer is simpler.
‘God,’ I ask, ‘please give me the strength to at least change myself.’
Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation active in 133 countries. They run hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis.
Mother Teresa’s Prayer
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centred;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway!