The ideas that we have, some from childhood and some acquired in later years, actually rule our world.
There are basically two types of ideas, facts and opinions, and there really aren’t many facts. Life is a fact, as are birth, death, the sun, the moon, air, heat and cold. These things are. We all are affected by them. We can manipulate them, like using air conditioning to ease the summer’s heat, but we can’t change them.
Opinions, on the other hand, are countless, for they consist of our ideas about facts. And opinions are very powerful, for they determine how we feel, what we do, how we relate to others, and all the other things in our personal experience. While facts can’t be changed, opinions can.
Dr. Serge King, in his book, Imagineering for Health, says, “What gets many people into trouble is that they tend to confuse opinions with facts. … They treat their opinions as facts of life, rather than ideas about facts.”
Fact: Life is. Opinion: Life is a struggle. Fact: I am. Opinion: I am incompetent and unworthy. Fact: I can do. Opinion: I can do anything I set my mind on.
So, anything added to a fact is an opinion, either positive or negative. It’s easy to see how these opinions we have actually govern how we look at life, what we experience and how we deal with all that happens to us. Maybe we all need to take a long and impartial look at our opinions. Maybe we all need to start changing some of the opinions we have, and to begin choosing our experience.
Incidentally, our beliefs are just opinions. Well, where did they come from? Some of them were obtained as a newborn infant — babies respond very quickly to an adult’s actions, voice and emotional state. As the infant grows, he begins to imitate his parents’ responses to events, he listens to their words and eventually makes decisions on all the information he has gathered. Children born to the same parents tend to grow up with different personalities and opinions, depending to some extent upon what they learn as they mature.
Our lives reflect our opinions, even though society tends to tell us that life is something that “happens” to us; those of us who become successful people are able to accept that we happen to life, not the other way around.
Let’s take a good look at our opinions and see which of them aren’t working. It’s a bit scary to really look into our minds and change some of the less workable opinions, but when we can overcome that fear, we are able to start improving our experience. Dr. King confirms, “There is no way to get around it: If you are living in poverty, you are holding opinions that keep you from getting money; if you have poor health, you are holding opinions that are keeping you from becoming well; if you can’t get along with people, you are holding opinions that keep you from doing so. What is in your life reflects what is in your mind.”
When I read that last quotation, an old memory from childhood came flashing back to me. In a little one-room elementary school in Ontario, I was the only child with a strong English accent that some of the older boys just loved to hear! One day at recess, I was asked, “How much money do you have, Mary?” Our family was fairly new to Canada and was struggling to make ends meet. However, I told my tormentors, “I have forty dollars in the bank and fifty cents at home,” a barefaced lie, in my thick Norfolk accent. Throughout my adult life, I had been unable to save money until that memory came flooding back — I had lied, so therefore did not deserve to have money. Amazing! I changed the opinion and allowed myself a bank account.
Our only limitations are those that we agree to. Time to take a look at which opinions we have that are limiting.
Mary Underhill is a Creston stress therapist and grief counsellor.