We hear people talking about it everywhere we go. “The world has gone mad,” “People are going crazy,” “What’s happening to our society?” Violence is out of control. People refrain from discussing their beliefs out of fear. Relationships fall apart because of polarizing opinions. Is all of this normal?
Well, yes and no. All of the things that are happening are clear signs of a paradigm shift. A paradigm shift is defined as a “fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions.” In other words, it is a change in the beliefs that determine how we view reality. A paradigm shift can occur on a large scale (like within an entire nation) or on a small scale (like within your own mind).
The violence, lack of tolerance, and even hatred that we are constantly seeing on the news displays phases 2 and 3 of a paradigm shift: ridicule and violent opposition. So, what will come next? Will this chaos continue forever? Most likely not. The final phase of a paradigm shift will come eventually: acceptance.
The Four Phases of a Paradigm Shift
Phase 1: Ignorance
This is the phase where people with opposing beliefs are simply disregarded and called “crazy“. The majority of people have a particular set of beliefs in common. This provides a sense of comfort and security, we feel comfortable discussing our opinions because we know that we won’t be judged or ridiculed.
However, there is a seed that begins to sprout. For some, it has already grown, for others, it is just beginning. It is a seed of change, a change of belief. We begin to slightly question the ways that we have been doing things. We wonder if we are truly “right” in our assumptions about the world. For some, this creates a tremendous amount of fear. For others, it creates excitement and curiosity.
In this phase of ignorance, we begin to feel the slight shift, but it is not spoken about or acknowledged in any significant way.
Phase 2: Ridicule
This is the phase where people begin talking. Different “sides” begin to form. One side embraces the change and the other side rejects it completely. People begin to cling even tighter to their beliefs, whether it be the old beliefs or the new ones. In either scenario, this clinging will soon become very dangerous.
You will notice, that during a paradigm shift in your own mind, your mind splits into two different parts. Conflict and tension fill up your subconscious mind because of the internal battle you are experiencing. Your beliefs are beginning to change, but you still fear releasing the beliefs you held onto for so long.
Phase 3: Violent Opposition
The polarization on either side of the battle becomes even more extreme. People who disagree with us are perceived as threats. We begin to take things to another level by resorting to physical or verbal violence toward the opposing side. Our fear of change becomes so overwhelming that our morals become small in comparison. This is what we are currently seeing a lot in our nation today. Even if it’s not physical violence, we see people dehumanizing other people simply because they hold a different view of the world.
Phase 4: Acceptance
Just when the violence and resistance reach a climax, things seem to settle down. Exhausted from the constant conflict, we start to take a step back and question why we are even doing what we’re doing. All of a sudden, the beliefs that we were trying so hard to defend don’t seem all that important anymore.
Acceptance gradually comes. Our mind accepts the loss of our old ways of viewing the world. We move on and adapt to the new perspective that we have.
Why Is There So Much Resistance?
You may notice that during a paradigm shift, there seems to be a gradual increase in resistance, then a decrease. But, why do we resort to such extreme measures simply to defend our opinions? Why is it that we feel such hatred for “the other side” during periods of change?
Our beliefs determine our reality. The reason why one event can be perceived so many different ways by different people is because of the various beliefs each of them have. There are some common beliefs that we all share (i.e.: murder is bad), but all the other beliefs we have are determined by our upbringing and environment.
It’s very difficult for us to change our views of the world, especially the ones we have had for a long time. This is because of the cycle of validation that our beliefs go through. First, our beliefs are created by our parents (or other authority figures), then we use those beliefs as a filter that we see the world through. Because we see the world through this filter, everything that happens to us will continue to reinforce this belief.
For example, you are walking home alone when a stranger asks if you need a ride home. If you had the belief that “strangers are dangerous”, you would decline the invitation and walk home by yourself. On the other hand, if you believed that “strangers are kind and want to help me”, then you would gratefully accept the offer. No response is right or wrong, they each just show the different ways someone could respond based on their belief systems.
What Happens When Our Beliefs are Threatened?
When we feel like our beliefs are being threatened by someone else or even a group of people, we can respond in different ways. If we are unhealthily attached to our beliefs, we will defend them passionately and possibly aggressively. However, we could also maintain our views while respecting somebody else’s. This is a much healthier relationship to our belief systems. When we are in a fear-based mentality, we interpret someone else’s views as a direct attack on our own. This is a paranoid and anxious way to live your life.
The thing is, many of us live this way and we don’t even realize it. Maybe we don’t attack other people’s opinions, but we do shut down and refuse to have conversations about our own opinions. This is just another form of defensiveness. We are still afraid of our beliefs being proven wrong. We are afraid of questioning ourselves.
The Beauty of Openness
What if I told you that questioning yourself is the key to an abundant and happy life? Occasionally questioning the beliefs that you have allows you to choose your view of life from a conscious place. Most people are completely unconscious and not in control of their beliefs. They simply absorb the beliefs of other people around them. We all do this as children, but that does not mean we should live this way our whole lives.
Be open to being wrong. You don’t need to let go of all your beliefs. All you need to do is open yourself up slightly…
Consider that maybe your truth isn’t the only truth. This will open your mind in ways you couldn’t imagine.