of the Belief Overview
I will assess the following questions (this section is more detailed in the Belief Experiment #1 write-up):
(1) What perceptual points will best take me back to this belief? (2) What do I take this belief to mean?
To clarify, the first question asks, How can I recreate the perception this belief gives me? I could also state it as, What stands out when I hold this belief?
There are two parts to 2: (a) Where/how this belief logically fits into my current belief system (if it does so), and (b) If and how the belief is important to me: what I have learned from it, how it has led me to behave differently, etc.
I’ll start with (2a), then address (1), and finally (if needed), (2b).
What is the Context for this Belief?
Context for the Belief: The core of who I am is indestructible. If I want to create or experience something, it is ultimately my responsibility to do so (e.g. if I want to be happy, only I can make myself happy).
The Belief: I do not need anything from other people.
What is the Experience of this Belief?
The implementation of this belief did not have quite as noticeable effects as the last two beliefs did. I don’t feel that I did my best with this. For the other two beliefs I read supporting material (i.e. articles, books which support the belief) fairly extensively: for this one I did not read at all. I also did not take any notes regarding my experience. But, I won’t let that keep me from talking about it.
This is certainly a nice belief to have, to put it simply. At no point in the last two days have I felt socially deprived. If I do for an instant I remind myself of this new truth (the belief), and my thoughts and actions change accordingly.
In part, this has meant giving myself more credit for, well, existing. If I wish that someone would do something with me (and it isn’t viable at the time) I think, “Hey—I have myself. That in itself is quite a lot.” It may sound like a cop-out, but I also might say to myself, “Well, this person isn’t around, but I can at least think about them (depending on the situation/what I want, this might do the same for me).”
If I want to have intelligent conversation but it doesn’t seem like the right place to have it, I can be content to think these thoughts to myself and still have fun with the people around me at the same time. If I want a hug but there’s no one around, I can hug myself. I don’t think I need to elaborate from there. ;)
Basically, I’ve been more comfortable with being myself. If I go somewhere looking to socialize (such as a track meet, as I did yesterday) but it turns out that everyone there hates me (which was not the case yesterday), that’s fine. That won’t keep me from finding some way to enjoy myself. If I’m “stuck” at the place I can just take a walk (and come back) or stick my nose in a book. I’ll be fine, brother.
I likewise have felt a minimum of social incompetence (awkwardness, if you like), which is certainly different than usual. Perhaps it’s just that I’ve felt comfortable with the people I’ve seen, but surely I can take some credit for it, too? :P When I do experience discomfort or problems with communicating, I don’t beat myself up about it. This has been a nice departure from the norm as well.
I wouldn’t call myself a social diva, but I have felt a bit better-received by people than usual. This means that people seem to greet me happily, respond to me fairly positively, and at least mildly enjoy being around me. Unless I am just deluding myself, this would make sense (I’ll explain further in the next section).
A common thread I’ve found throughout these experiments so far is that trying to adopt a new belief makes my resistance to the belief more noticeable. These belief-defying thoughts were present in me before, but they weren’t as noticeable because I wasn’t consciously challenging them much. As a result, they operated mostly below the level of awareness, as many thoughts do.
So with this belief, I’ve generally become more conscious of my thoughts, feelings, and actions in social situations, as well as how I’m presenting myself (how might I appear to other people right now?). But this is just the start: I suspect that heightened social awareness will prove to be quite an interesting ability. J
There are a few repeat-thoughts (which turn into actions/how I approach the situation) I have which this belief challenges. They are: “I need to impress this person”; “I hope this person likes me”; “Please don’t think I’m lame”; “I’m a burden on/annoyance to these people”; and “I need (person; e.g. closer friends) in order to (feel or achieve something; e.g. like myself more).
I wouldn’t say they run my life, but they are substantial. I’m not too worried about them. Reducing these attitudes and their related actions won’t be effortless but I think it’s well within my abilities to do so.
What does this Belief Mean to Me?
This belief isn’t meant to be a cop-out from socializing, so that I can avoid people and feel okay with it. In fact, it is meant to do the opposite.
In particular, I suspect that my context for reality (as I wrote out in Belief Experimentation) has enabled this belief to be an aid to my social life, rather than leading me to withdraw from society and/or become a sociopath. :)
You see, neediness is generally not an attractive quality (really?!). It would make sense, then, that apparently not needing much, if anything from other people will contribute to me being pleasant to be around (though it won’t make me pleasant per se).
Being needless, however, does not mean that I go into social situations as an apathetic robot. Instead, it means that I can connect with people out of a genuine desire to do so. Maybe I want to make them laugh, tell them stories about myself (not to a self-indulgent extent), or listen to a problem they’re having: in short, I want to help them feel good.
This is comparable to different approaches to life. You can go about life through the lens of survival, spending most of your time meeting your needs and then resting in idle indifference until you must meet those needs once again (provided you have this time to rest).
Or, you can live from a genuine desire to be alive, because for you aliveness is joy. You spend most of your time doing things you feel compelled to do, perhaps based on a purpose you have established for your life, and only a small part trying to meet your needs (unless meeting your needs equates to aliveness for you, such as if you live “off the land”). Higher motivations and meanings than need are always to be found (and created).
This doesn’t mean that I never go to other people in need of help or desiring a bit of affection and attention. That would be like assuming that I can dedicate no time or effort to meeting my needs, which would be silly (I think so… I could be wrong on this one). But, in turn, I don’t have to fall to pieces if I don’t get my needs met, whether they be physical or emotional. There usually is more than one way of going about these things, and if I’m deprived for a few days or more (depending on what is needed) then so be it. Even in the face of scarcity I am responsible for how I approach life.
This belief certainly goes hand in hand with Belief Experiment #1, and its attitude is comparable to that of Belief Experiment #2 (both are expressed in the last paragraph). It's nice to build a comprehensive context for my life which is both accurate and empowering. I'm really enjoying these experiments.
Overall, I trust that my social life will become more enjoyable from here on out. This is even if the people in my social circle(s) don’t change at all. If my social life were to remain as it is for the rest of my life, that would be okay. I could still have a lot of fun and go about my business of growing just as I need to. There would still be plenty of life to be lived.
Perhaps more importantly, this isn’t a new trend for me, though I expect that I will continue to like myself more and more as time goes on. I really have become more appreciative of the blend of qualities I possess, and I genuinely like who I am becoming. It’s quite nice: a couple years ago I didn’t know it was possible to feel this way. But now I do! Yay! J
I cheated a little bit, and I decided to start experiment #4 today, because it seemed fairly urgent. I will still end as scheduled, so this belief will be focused on for a total of three days (of course, I’m probably going to retain it afterward anyway, just like the other three).
Here is the next belief: My body knows what it needs, and I can listen to it in order to meet these needs. My body is intelligent.
Time to get fit... I hope. :)