3 easy but difficult steps to changing your mind

hell went away cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

“Hell Went Away” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

I work a lot with people who are trying to change their minds theologically. The ones I work most intensely with are members of The Lasting Supper. I would say it is a hotbed, a petri dish, an experiment, of theological transitioning. It’s a place where we endeavor to achieve spiritual independence. Join us!

It’s difficult to change our minds. On the other hand, it’s easy. If we just follow these 3 basic steps, it will happen. That’s a promise!

Here are the 3 steps to changing your mind about anything:

  1. Question Its Credulity: Unfortunately, for many people this first step isn’t even allowed and therefore never contemplated. To even question a deeply embedded idea is anathema, rebellious, heretical, and therefore punishable. But this is always the first step. This isn’t the end, but it certainly is the beginning. You have to be able to ask yourself, “Is this really true?” This first step starts the unstoppable process.
  2. Consider Other Possibilities: In other words, what will replace the unhealthy, unnecessary and erroneous belief that was there before? This doesn’t mean that we replace, say, resurrection with reincarnation. Rather, we replace resurrection with questions such as, “What could this have meant?” “Why was this important?” “Does this point to a deeper truth?” “What would it mean to me if I let this belief go?”
  3. Wait for Truth: This is the hardest part. This is exactly where many people either give up to retreat back into comfortable beliefs or leap over into other ones that are just as unhealthy, unnecessary or erroneous. Waiting for truth to come with its attending peace is sometimes a long and arduous test of patience. But I assure you that if you wait long enough, trust in love to reveal itself, that a deep and abiding truth will slip in and overthrow our fears. And the truth is not necessarily another informational fact. Rather, it’s love and peace that transcends intellectual formulations. It does come!

Many things I used to believe have drifted away. On the one hand, intellectually there is a deep and abiding peace. On the other hand, there is, I’ll admit, the emotional residue of fear that I’m wrong and will pay for it. This takes a while to depart. But when I remember that perfect love casts out fear, that residue of fear eventually loses its power.

I hope this helps.

Again, if you want to do this in a supportive community, join The Lasting Supper.

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25 Responses

  1. Sabio Lantz says:

    1 & 2 are great, of course. But number three seems flowery and idealistic with the desire to still seems spiritual.

    Another step that may be helpful is to understand HOW your beliefs have served you (as opposed to if they are right or wrong). Then ask, “Do I still need this service? Is there a better way to accomplish the same?”

  2. Actually it’s not intended to be spiritual. Someone could conclude on a completely atheist position. Intellectually is one thing. To wait for the peace to attend it is another. That’s what I meant.

  3. Its* for 1

    Anyway, I would agree that 3 is extremely difficult to get to because we don’t WANT to contemplate what may be contrary to what we were taught

  4. Syl says:

    The key word with #3 is “wait”, as in being patient – with yourself, with the process. I view “truth” in this context as that which is internally consistent – with time and patience, things fall into place. It may be that internal place is one where ultimate truth is accepted as being unknowable – and with that acceptance is peace and assurance that all is as it should be. It might be that internal place is one where it’s understood that ultimate truth is non-existent – and that is perfectly alright. It might be that ones internal truth includes a certainty that a being we call “God” exists and holds the universe together – and that belief is held with honest assurance.

    When long-held beliefs and assumptions are honestly questioned and alternatives are genuinely examined, it takes time to sort though the ramifications and deal with emotional and intellectual fallout. If you allow yourself that time, the end result is an internal geography which is more consistent, honest, and at peace with itself.

  5. Sabio Lantz says:

    Right, but doing the right thing does not always feel at peace at all.
    It is an idealism.
    It is residual thinking about a god sending us peace as guidance.
    Peace and Truth are spiritual language people are last to let go of.

    Fanatics can feel very at peace with their actions.
    We don’t want subjective feelings to be so center — as if a warm fuzzy feeling is what we need to feel our reason is good.

    Those are my cautions.

  6. Sabio: I disagree. Peace isn’t idealistic. And just because a lunatic feels peace doesn’t mean it’s something we shouldn’t want. Maybe you’re reading into what I’m saying because you assume I’m being religious or spiritual about it. Peace, although one might call it a spiritual quality, is to me essentially a quality of mind. Calm. Serenity. Free of anxiety and fear. This is what I’m trying to say.

  7. Sabio Lantz says:

    OK, let’s agree “peace” can be a nice thing. Yes, so can “love” and “patience” and all the other words like that.

    You said, “waiting for truth to come with its attending peace”, and I am saying,
    often actions need to be taken without peace as some inner guidance.

    Sure, being patient with ourselves through changes can also be valuable.

    I am putting up a caution flag that letting some inner voice or some inner feeling be your guide can be problematic too.

    I am allergic to both self-help pablum as well as insipid spiritual jargon. We all crave simple understandings to assure our safety, security and certainty. However, all that is still part of the disease.

    Actually, if we spelled out specific examples, I doubt we’d disagree. This is the problem with debating abstractions. I wasn’t worried about you being spiritual or not.

    I will wait for peace to come so I can see if there is anything of value in what I have said today. 🙂

  8. Sabio: I, like you, do not like self-help pablum or insipid spiritual jargon. I’m wondering if you saw what I wrote above about peace being a quality of mind rather than a ooey-gooey feeling in our hearts.

  9. Sabio Lantz says:

    David: Quality of mind or ooey-gooey feeling, the right choice at a given time may not have the luxury of either. Wouldn’t you agree?

  10. Of course. I’m not sure though that choice is the right word. It’s not as simple as choosing what to believe or know what is true I don’t think. But at some point there is equanimity. Poise. The mind at rest.

  11. BTW Sabio, this discussion is important to me. I am getting ready to write my book on the Z-theory, and I’m trying to organize my thoughts. I’m not just arguing with you, but seeking clarity. Thanks.

  12. Sabio Lantz says:

    We can have equanimity but it is fleeting. Today’s may be gone. Nothing is permanent. Over-idealizing that emotion, can be a mistake – in my humble opinion. As can over-idealizing or over-valorizing any emotion or state of mind. It is all part of that struggle for The ONE – one answer, one word, one community, one opinion, one TRUTH, one of anything. In Tibetan Buddhism it is called the error of Monism.

    Also, even the notion of “right” choice, or “the truth” is mistaken. Often there are many choices, each with their own set of compromises, foibles, pitfalls and such.

    Consulting the I-Ching, or your Horoscope or your inner peace, often offer no assurance no matter how desperately we want it.

    You know the story about the Chinese fellow whose horses are stolen (link here), right? Not in the NT, but it should be ! 😉

    We always seek assurance and control. We seek to know we are right and doing the best. It is how we fight fear and insecurity.
    We seek and seek.
    Part of this is, of course, valuable, but that same thing feeds our neurosis too — we then build philosophies or theologies to justify these neurosis.
    We leave one system and build another.
    That is part of my point.

    Your mind generated a “Z-theory” (the waterfall scene) as a tool for you, where you were at that moment. The moments keep changing. Whether it fits anyone else’s mind is a question. Home-spun lightly held theories can sometimes be very useful.

    As you know me now over the years, I hopefully am not just arguing to argue either. I detest such dialogue. I am glad we quickly escape that temptation.
    I hope the back and forth is helpful. You are a busy dude.

    May the tumult and turmoil of Durga nourish you,
    so that you never take comfort in the right decision,

    Peace out Dude 😉

  13. debbiedarline says:

    Your phrase “love and peace that transcends intellectual formulations” resonates with me. From my early childhood (before I formed any intellectual ideas about “God”) I could sense love and peace in nature. But some people never feel that at all. I’m convinced that our universe is beyond human understanding, so I don’t think that we can ever be “sure” of our beliefs, thoughts, or feelings. However, I don’t think we should dismiss “feelings” just because they can’t be readily analyzed or quantified. It seems to me that humans discern “truth” in so many different ways; intellectual, physical, emotional, etc. that we don’t want to fall into thinking that one way of discerning truth is necessarily “the best and only way”. I am so grateful that even as my mind sorts through all of the “God” information that has come my way through the years – I have a deep sense of inner peace.

  14. Sabio Lantz says:

    @ David,

    (1) I am absolutely sure that the sort of writing you did in this post will speak to many people. As you see with Debbie. It all depends on the audience and the intended impact. Truth is not the issue.

    (2) BTW, in an above comment you said, “Someone could conclude on a completely atheist position.” Just as a suggestion for your other writings. In our culture, “atheist” is almost always a pejorative word when used by theists or even casual believers (I’ve lots of experience with that). So instead, you could have said,
    “Someone could conclude on a completely naturalistic position.”
    See the difference? (I am sure you do) — Just a suggestion.

  15. Cecilia Davidson says:

    Or nontheistic position.

  16. Tim says:

    ‘Question It’s Credulity: Unfortunately, for many people this first step isn’t even allowed and therefore never contemplated. To even question a deeply embedded idea is anathema, rebellious, heretical, and therefore punishable. But this is always the first step. This isn’t the end, but it certainly is the beginning. You have to be able to ask yourself, “Is this really true?” This first step starts the unstoppable process.’

    David, did you mean “credibility” rather than “credulity”?

    Although both work, I tend to question my own credulity, while questioning the credibility of ideas or people…

  17. Tim says:

    Sabio, some Christians have a strong reaction to the words “atheistic” and “naturalistic”. Perhaps “nontheistic” comes close – I want a word that means “regardless of whether there exist G/g/od/ess/es/s”.

  18. Sabio Lantz says:

    @ Tim,
    Indeed, that is exactly what I wanted “regardless of whether there exist G/g/od/ess/es/s”,
    thus, I opted for “naturalistic” — and hell, it is not only Christians who react to “atheists”, radical Muslims kill them. But I wouldn’t think Christians would react to “naturalistic” — it is natural, after all. 😉
    Thanx for the comment

  19. Steve Snead says:

    I did replace ressurection with reincarnation. I really struggle with bodies knitting back together and magically coming up (are private parts included?) Out of the ground. Not being disrespectful just saying some of what I struggled with in my fundi days.

  20. Teresa Hodek says:

    This is in response to the discussion between Sabio and nakedpastor above about feeling peace about your actions and decisions. On one hand, I agree personally with nakedpastor’s post and feel its truth. However, I also agree with Sabio that peace (and all feelings, which are secondary to our thoughts and beliefs) can come from false, incorrect, and wrong beliefs. My MIL was part of a church split and spoke out very vigorously against homosexuals and that the biblical view was against them as abominations. She said that she came under attack from many at her church for speaking out, and there was much turmoil as the pastor and board left the church in a messy church split. But my MIL expressed how she just centered herself in her beliefs, “God” gave her strength to speak the truth, and she felt peaceful during this time of turmoil. Those of us who don’t believe the bible speaks against homosexuals might question her truth that gave her that feeling of peace. I think the best that any of us can hope for is knowing our own selves enough to know our OWN truth, be constantly in search of truth and as open minded as we can be, and in knowing our own truth, feel peace for bravely living it.

  21. jaybrams says:

    Good thoughts. What if somewhere in there is the step “accept uncertainty” … i agree with what you are saying in number 3 about “love and peace” will come, and that is the “truth” you are trying to point at. Put that aside for a moment though…

    I think it is equally important to accept uncertainty. When we are certain of something we perceive as truth, we hold very tightly to it. And this is what gets many of us into a tough spot anyway. It’s hard to let go of something we hold very tightly even when it goes against our very sensibilities. Even when the disdain of that truth tortures us. So let us know replace one tightly held truth with another. The opposite of that is not “believe nothing” , rather “believe healthily”… When we accept uncertainty, we may land on something new that we perceive as truth, but we’ve learned to hold it more loosely in order to avoid just another version of the damaging cycle we were in before.

  22. jaybrams says:

    reading through again, my step above would fall between 2 and 3… you know if you want a place to put it in your book 😉

  23. Thanks Jay. Actually, uncertainty is a part of #3. Like I said, “the truth is not necessarily another informational fact”. I would need to be clearer about that. Thanks again.

  24. jaybrams says:

    yeah, I assumed so when i read that line. I guess for my own journey it was such an important revelation that it feels like it deserves it’s own place. As always, I love what you do, David!

  25. Hey Jay… a good book written by a Buddhist, Pema Chodron, “Comfortable with Uncertainty”.

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