“Humans are like computers, and our beliefs are the software with which we are programmed. Often our believes are programmed into us without our knowledge by our culture, community, religion, and family. Even though we don’t choose those subconscious programs, they run our lives. They control our decisions, perspectives, feelings, and interactions, so they determine our destiny. What we believe, we become.”
– Glennon Doyle, Untamed
It’s quotes like these that stop me in my tracks. So often, we move through life without ever taking a moment of self-reflection to observe our own inputs and outputs. The mechanical analogy is always easiest for me to both understand and explain how complex, yet simple we really are. While the majority of us come equipped in this life with similar hardware (two eyes, two ears, a brain, a heart, and some limbs), we each have our own unique software. That software controls so many of our micro-decisions in any given situation. How much of our subconscious belief system and decision-making was programmed into us at a young age either by our parents, the culture we were surrounded by, or the environments we were exposed to?
Distrust is human nature. From an evolutionary standpoint, we naturally had to be protective of our own. Mainly this defense was for safeguarding our children, our food source, our own bodies, and ensuring the tribe was kept safe at all cost. However, we now fail to recognize that this software is still built within us. Because we no longer have predatory animals to worry about, we have re-programmed that ancestral software to fit into our modern lives. That distrust and protectiveness have evolved from predators to people who don’t speak our language, people with different skin colors, different ethnicities religion, sexual orientation, etc. We need something to distrust, so we seek threats. Because our modern lives are now so comfortable with air conditioning, Uber Eats, microwave dinners and streaming television, the only real “threats” our software is able to recognize are people or things that are different than what we are comfortable with.
Recognizing this helps start self-reflection. You are your thoughts, yes. But in order to control your thoughts, you must first understand the beliefs that you did not develop on your own. Take notice of your first instincts, and later ask why you thought that. And would you feel differently if the shoe was on the other foot?
We are all operating on a different set of unwritten boundaries, set in our own heads. You get frustrated internally when someone breaks one of those unwritten rules. For example, I can’t stand when two people are walking towards me on a sidewalk and one of those people doesn’t move out of the way to allow room for me. At that moment, I automatically assume that person is an asshole (and they may very well be). But that same person may have their own unwritten rule that the person walking towards two people should step aside and wait for the couple to pass before moving on.
Neither of us is right. We’re all living in our own realities. There is no law written about sidewalk etiquette. But this is a micro-example of one of those simple misunderstandings that, at a macro level, causes hate.
What we believe, we become.
What do you believe?