On being yourself

The art of guarding your comfort zone

[ 4 min read ]

People are funny creatures.
When they believe in a certain version of reality, in other words, when they see the world in a certain way, they usually don’t want to hear that the world might be different than they imagine (see) it.

Believers prefer to believe that their attachment to a certain religion is authentic and is not the result of them not wanting to hurt the feelings of their family members (ancestors), or not wanting to stand out when the vast majority of people follows a certain religion in their country (and, quite obviously, many people look with suspicion at those who don’t). Hence, without any hesitation or forethought, they will say that it’s bullshit that many people follow certain religions because that’s what their parents (everyone in their close family) did, or because they didn’t want to stand out and answer troubling questions all the time, or explain to members of their families or friends or neighbors why they don’t believe.

People who believe certain things to be true don’t want to hear that these things might not be true. The conviction that certain people must be always good (can’t be bad — because that’s the way it is, because that’s what they always believed), that certain institutions and thus also people in those institutions are pure (can’t do nothing wrong), that certain events happened and not others and that they meant certain things and not others (certain version of history), is responsible for their feeling of insecurity and uneasiness when they’ve been offered a different take on the matters which they regard and always regarded a certain way (because they’ve been taught / instructed to view them that way). This is often the case in legal disputes. Two parties meet in a court of law and both are perplexed and outraged how the reality they know might have been presented in such a distorted way by the other party. In short, that’s the crux of all court battles. Of course, there are also cases (and they’re quite common) when the parties lie on purpose, which they do in order to put the other party out of balance or achieve other strategic objective.

People who believe that certain methods are the best (because they have been doing something that way all their lives), have no interest in new methods. They don’t want to change this method that they’ve been using all those years. Parenting is a very good example. People who have deep rooted beliefs about parenting methods (who, more often than not, copy what their parents did) are sure their methods work and that there is no need to think about it.

There is a certain movie that runs in Polish cinemas right now which certain people would love to ban. That’s how they fear that someone (they in particular) might be offered a different take on something (in this case the clergy). The HBO series The Young Pope has a similar theme.

People forget that a different opinion / vision of lifereality doesn’t mean the reality has been automatically changed. It only means that someone views things differently, and that’s all. A movie or a book about the clergy (or some other institution / person) which shows people a certain image of that institution / person doesn’t become the new truth. Same with certain scientific or philosophical theories — when someone offered a new theory and he or she ridiculed the old theory it doesn’t mean that everything in this new book is suddenly the truth and that old theories are crap.

But many people (perhaps even most) get tricked that way. They are perplexed and outraged when they see, read or hear something that contradicts everything they believe in. Why are they perplexed and outraged? Because they worry that something that is in the book or movie could be taken for the truth by the general public and they feel that their job is to protect the old truth.

They don’t view it as an ongoing discussion on a certain topic. They don’t want to (they prefer not to) admit that some of it might also be true and that the reality might be different than they think. They got so accustomed to their version of reality that they don’t want it changed / altered in any, even the slightest, way. Thus they view all different opinions as a threat, because this new book or movie or article might undermine their belief and force them (and others) to adopt an altered version of reality. As long as there are no books or movies that offer a different take on certain matters, or as long as nobody confronted them with a different point of view or version of events they can feel comfortable (safe) that nothing will change. There is no chance. They can stay in their comfort zones.