Your Core Beliefs Have Disintegrated. What Do You Do?

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You’d always stood firm in your beliefs. You never had reason to question them, never thought you could be persuaded to the contrary. You were a rock, solid and firm amidst the torrential currents of human affairs. Then the unthinkable happened.

Perhaps it started with a question, humble and unassuming at first, but like a trojan horse it slowly and methodically wrapped around the contours of your mind like choking vines. Perhaps someone raised an objection you hadn’t hitherto considered. Perhaps a traumatic experience shook you to your core, forever altering your perceptions. Gradually or abruptly, you found yourself stranded in a dark and lonely place.

You never thought you would end up there. You’re desperately hopelessly lost, alienated from all you knew and held to be true. You have no map, no compass. There are no street signs. There are no lamps to light your way. All there is is darkness.

What do you do?

First, cling to what you know.

Your soul is a treasure trove of knowledge. You possess a lifetime of experience and education. You know things, perhaps imperfectly, perhaps even erroneously, yet it’s from these basic units of thought that you must begin your journey.

Nobody can make sense of the world without first having acquired a baseline level of experience, some fundamental understanding of the universe and how it works. In cases where your knowledge is true, or at least imperfectly true, you find a compass, some internal sense that pulls you in the proper direction. In cases where your knowledge proves mostly or completely false, you nevertheless find, after due deliberation, a compass that operates in reverse, pointing out directions you should avoid so you can find the proper path.

Cling to what you know for dear life. It will be your anchor, your solitary light in a dark and frightening world.

Second, learn what you don’t know.

While it’s imperative that you start with what you know, doing so is futile without the intention to press forward. The one who is not relatively secure in his beliefs has a uniquely grave obligation to search for what’s true.

Read as much as you can. Study history. Study science. Study art. Study philosophy and religion. Study as much as you can in as many disciplines as possible, for even those endeavors that seem wholly unrelated to the object you seek will prove relevant in some way. Everything is connected to everything else, because humanity and its pursuits are an integral whole.

Talk to people. Discover what they believe. Share what you believe. Discuss. Ask questions. Debate. Maintain an open mind, yet be ready to seize upon wisdom when wisdom is recognized. Many perspectives ensure many handholds as you struggle to find your way, slowly piecing together what you should hold to be true.

The more you learn, the broader your knowledge-base becomes, and the more accurately you can test existing beliefs. Education is a star in the sky whose light grows brighter and fuller with every acquired unit of knowledge, revealing more and more of the terrain before you so you can continue on your quest.

Finally, and most importantly, search for The Truth.

There are many “truths”: customs, fads and beliefs that various societies and individuals at various times have endowed with the dubious charism of “common sense.” The Truth, however, is an objective reality, waiting to be discovered. We were created to search for, to know and to ultimately love The Truth. It is the prize we seek from the genesis of our existence; it is our Purpose and our End.

Some of us in this life will only know The Truth imperfectly. Others of us not at all. But I firmly believe that if you honestly and diligently pursue it, you will be rewarded for your heroic efforts, either in this life or in the life to come.  Chase it relentlessly. Don’t be discouraged, and above all don’t lose hope.

The ambiguities, uncertainties and limitations of your finite life should be of no concern to you. The Truth is your beloved, your prize, the pinnacle and the fulfillment of your existence. Go after it with all your might, and one day, you will not only find the light you thought you’d lost, but an even greater one, a searing fire that will consume your heart so that you will never want again.

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3 thoughts on “Your Core Beliefs Have Disintegrated. What Do You Do?”

  1. Oh Lord….today I consider myself lucky because after I read your article which was shared by Chris Milan. I automatically feel in love with your style of writing. You really know how to keep your audiences interested and longing for more. This really happened at a right time because I am going through some life challenges but when I read your inspiring craft. I was empowered and I am now hopeful that things will work out just fine. Thank you very much.

  2. This is a really interesting piece and beautifully explained. I come from a strongly scientific background and so my perspective is a bit different (although I recognise that I am assuming you too are not a scientist and past experience tells me I could easily be wrong). The central thing which I have learned from science, I think, is to keep on testing my ‘truths’ and adjusting to the changes which this activity encourages. Sometimes the changes are small and really just something to remember, but sometimes they shake the core of my being and my sense of self. In those times I recognise the shell-shock you describe when core beliefs are broken. But for the scientist, in those times, you are held safe by the scientific method – test beliefs, adjust to changes, test beliefs, adjust to changes etc. That the changes are enormous and the consequences deeply personal doesn’t changes the process, the method, and somehow it helps.
    I also happen to believe that there are things which are not testable and places where science cannot light the way but the experience of searching for truth through the scientific method still helps a little for me, even here, because it gives me awareness that what I hold to be true and what is actually true may be different and it shows me through experience that I can live through the adjustments to my world view and sense of self which are sometimes needed.

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