We all unconsciously create our own “Individual map of reality” and set of moral values.
Although certain situations and emotional experiences appear very real to us at the time, they are not in fact reality, only the reality that we perceive ourselves and it to be.
Did you know that the brain operates, by providing an environment, where sequences of activity become recognized as patterns?
If the brain were not a pattern making system, we would be unable to read or write. It would take so much time to work out many of the things we automatically do on a daily basis: e.g. which item of clothing to put on first each morning.
The brain records absolutely everything we ever experience, creating patterns very easily in order to recognize them instantaneously each time.
This is how our belief systems and moral values are created.
As Edward de Bono stated:
“A belief is a perceptual framework which leads us to see the world in a way that reinforces that framework.
The circularity is a very natural function of a self-organizing patterning system, so beliefs are very easy to form.
In a sense “belief” is the truth of a perceptual system.
When you burn your finger at a fire only once in a lifetime, you are operating a belief system. Your fear of fire is not built up by induction based on repeated experience.
Your initial trauma creates a belief that prevents you from ever contradicting that belief, so the circularity is established.”
When we are young we create our map of reality to feel safe. Children from every family have to a degree, a lack of safety.
Imagine a child who is in an unhappy family situation from which he cannot escape. In order to feel safe he may decide “If I hide, I’ll be safe and I won’t get into trouble.” At that point in his life this may well be a helpful map of reality to him. However if he continues to use it when he grows up that same map of reality could be extremely debilitating in his life.
There is no doubt about it, our personal beliefs and moral values have an incredible impact on our lives from very early on. Any and every belief, regardless of how true it is or not, guides our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors on a daily basis.
These beliefs reflect our “map of the world.”
And the kind of map we have influences the paths in life that we choose to take. Whether a well chosen path or not, without one, we would meander through life, feeling unfulfilled and rather lost, with no direction or purpose.
It helps to know how our belief systems are formed and the simple fact of the matter is, there are many contributing factors.
Role models, such as celebrities ( whose lives are not all they seem ) can have a real influence on the lives of those who might feel somewhat lost and impressionable for example. As can favourite authors, actors and comedians.
Authority figures from an early age i.e. parents, teachers, doctors etc have a huge influence on our belief systems and in turn moral values, as we spend most of our young life being cared for and nurtured by these people.
Music and TV are constantly brainwashing us and although we as adults grow up to realize this, it never entered our thought patterns as we were growing up.
Just one wonderful memory or one traumatic event can be responsible for conditioning us to have certain beliefs that persist for a lifetime.
The key to ensuring you are following a map of reality that serves you well is to simply become more aware of where your beliefs actually came from. Then accept that beliefs should and must be subject to change.
A negative belief for example that we’ve carried through life since childhood with us requires careful reflection.
In order to make adjustments to your map or reality, you’ll need to make adjustments to those old negative beliefs by replacing them with new positive, feel good beliefs. Meditation and a little time invested in how our thoughts become things would be invaluable at this stage.
Unfortunately, our human minds are prone to human error and it’s inevitable that we’ll come across compelling evidence along the way that will challenge our old and current beliefs and maybe even moral values. At this time, it’s critical that we’re honest with ourselves and acknowledge that we may actually be wrong about something.
Only after this moment of open and honest contemplation can we update and correct our map of reality. It isn’t always the easiest path to be this honest with yourself as it will challenge existing beliefs but believe me when I say, it will reward you in immeasurable ways.
Again mindfulness and meditation are the most natural ways of training our minds to observe how we think about absolutely everything. Both techniques also direct us back to the only place we ought to be… here and now!
As we all have different worlds of reality, our society reflects this in a variety of beliefs.
It’s very important to be aware that your mind prefers truths that serve a function within the context of your life, not another persons. Meaning, while one belief appears to work successfully with one person, it may not work so well for another.
In a nutshell…
If you only determine your beliefs from outside influences, such as parents, institutions, or role models, then you’ll find it is very likely that your “map of reality” won’t suit your interests, goals and moral values. Those beliefs will really only serve those who found them to be useful initially.
At the end of the day, you owe it to yourself to think for yourself and question past authorities. We go through life believing and doing so many things that seem right to us, but in fact they are not right at all, yet we will stick to our own reality come what may because it’s become ingrained in us over the years.
When we realize how we can change and improve our map of reality through meditation, we can improve the quality of our lives, our experiences, our relationships, our well-being and our success.