Now, before I begin, let me be crystal clear: This is neither a political statement nor a religious statement, and you won't find my opinion on either in this post (although I do have one). This bumper sticker caught my attention as a challenge. “I can't?" Frustrated by the rules and beliefs we lay down for others, I was reminded of John Mayer's song Belief. (You know the one. . . he says, “We're never gonna beat this if belief is what we're fighting for" - remember?) Issuing a blanket statement about something is merely a belief, and then putting a rule on top of that (like, “You CAN'T be catholic and pro-abortion") is a recipe for disaster. Assuming (as I do), that we live in world where disturbances of life are created by our mind, and some mental “illness" and neurosis are merely disorders of the conscious mind, I am always intrigued to see someone issue a “rule" about life, as if they have the handbook and I don't. I have been known to ask clients on occasion, “Oh? And where is that rule written? Do you have the handbook?" And of course, they look at me as if they were Superman, they'd burn a hole right through me. But then they respectfully answer, “Well, no. " Having an “illness" creates a belief that you have symptoms ABC and you now have permission to behave like XYZ.
Just having that rule that makes everything acceptable creates an excuse to think irrationally, feel dour and act out in inappropriate ways. Change will never occur under these circumstances; you've boxed ourselves in. It's perfectly fine to setup rules and beliefs about your own life. We all do that, don't we? It's the way we categorize our lives and make sense of it. However, difficulty arises when either 1) you issue that rule for other people and 2) are disturbed by your own rule. In either case, you set yourself up for great disappointment. In the case of being catholic and pro-abortion: This is a challenge to me because I want to show how I CAN be Catholic AND (gasp!) pro-abortion. I want to jump in the air, waving my hands proclaiming, “See! See! I'm doing it! I'm being catholic AND pro-abortion! I'm doing it!" Beliefs are so powerful. They alter our lives and lives of others consistently, and at times, with great pain. One person's unstoppable belief can be another person's despair.
Before any of us issue the rule to others and to ourselves, we need to make very clear that this is something that absolutely, 100% will not harm others. Most beliefs as strong as the one on the bumper sticker I saw, can't fit that bill. Here's a snippet of John Mayer's song, Belief: Is there anyone who ever remembers changing their mind from the paint on a sign?, is there anyone who really recalls ever breaking rank at all for something someone yelled real loud one time? oh, everyone believes in how they think it oughta be oh, everyone believes and they're not going easily we're never gonna win the world we're never gonna stop the war we're never gonna beat this if belief is what we're fighting for what puts a hundred thousand children in the sand? belief can, belief can what puts a folded flag inside his mother's hand? belief can, belief can
Jennifer Ryan, M. Ed. , LPC
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