“Too often we… enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”–John F. Kennedy
What about our darker side? What mental forces constrain and keep us from being the best versions of ourselves? What opinions do we treasure that restrict our thought patterns and enable dependencies, addictions, behaviors, relationships, and how we treat others and ourselves?
It’s sometimes helpful to contemplate my shadow self to try and understand when I have tricked myself or justified saying or doing something regretful. I ask myself, what do I deeply believe that is irrelevant or harmful to myself and to others? When have I caved in to judgment? Have I forgotten what a disservice it is to myself and others when I have let my attachment to views get in the way of living fully?
To break free of the enslavement that rigid opinions and beliefs, requires me to admit the power and impact they have over my attitudes and how I’m living my precious life. Deep within, I understand that breaking free of my attachment to views means that freedom is within my grasp. I ask myself, why am I afraid to free myself of the prison of rigidity and dogmatic opinion?
When I’m unafraid of contemplating my dark side, it manifests as the perfect opportunity to shine the light of objectivity on the negative opinions and beliefs that have barricaded my way for so long. I once again remember that freeing myself of comforting dependency upon easy, reflexive thinking and beliefs does not happen overnight. Simply understanding that my attachment to belief is a hindrance is not enough. It requires a fair amount of action and discipline to break the chains of opinionated thinking. This is possible because I’ve been able to break harmful habits and have discarded flawed patterns of thought in the past.
Pondering my devilish side helps to detect when I’m near to a positive break-through or epiphany. There is a renewed call to reach my highest potential. The contemplation of my dark side can reveal the temptation to halt the process of discovery and cave to procrastination. Being honest with myself that there is a dark side allows more ease in acknowledging my fears. Knowing the nature of my attachments to view allows me to more realistically confront them.
Having an accurate picture of my anxieties and fears enables me to better face them head-on. Being honest about the dark side also helps me to be more aware of the light side. Striving to understand the shadow-self allows for more constructive ways to release them or transform them into constructive patterns. Such soul-searching reveals the need to once again accept who I am and to forgive myself for transgressions against myself. This in turn, brings about the desire to reconcile past wrongs against others.
“People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson
Becoming aware of the temptation to become idolatrous about ideology, beliefs, and doctrine helps us to avoid such traps. We can better understand how fanaticism results from thinking about others and things in dualistic, discriminatory ways.
Ultimately, being aware of one’s preferred, favorite attachments to views makes it easier to practice detachment and objective analysis. Our desires for comforting concepts, stuff, and people are revealed for our further discernment. This doesn’t mean we become cold-hearted and not caring about people. Being more open to insight we become more curious about the world and the people around us. There is more awareness of our connectedness with everything.
The honest awareness and understanding of attachment to views brings about more authentic, open caring and compassion for oneself and others.