Friday, 9 September 2011

Tabula Rasa

It means blank slate. It's how you and I started, before we began accumulating the various baggage and ideas that come with life's journey.
Question for you; what were the strongest influences upon you when you were growing up? A parent? A religion? A particular environment?
How have these things informed you? What marks have they left? Have these marks been good or bad? Are you planning to pass them on or have you had to fight tooth and nail to escape them?
Some things embed real deep, don't they? Perhaps an event, or a series of them? You've never been able to forget and it can always be summoned when required.
As we mature we are drawn to order. We want to have a place for everything and be able to rationalise things. If you doubt this try reading a book that has too many characters and too many plot lines which never come together. Bet it leaves you feeling unsatisfied? I've mentioned before that we're natural pattern seekers, and for good reason. You're here because your ancestors, generally speaking, made the right survival choices. And just as they were informed by their experience you are informed by yours. Only the yellow brick road to clear thinking is littered with many a lonely wanderer who was teased off track by irrationality. But what do I mean by that? And who am I to say what's rational and what's not? Well I'm clearly nobody, but there are some useful pointers I've picked up as I've ploughed my furrow.
The main thing is never to accept any claim that the evidence doesn't support.  If it's important to you, do the hard yards and make sure that what you're being told can be backed up by something measurable. You can apply this principle to all areas of your life, within reason, and if you do I bet you're hoodwinked far less often.
Second, we're each of us a hornets nest of biases and bad ideas. And worse, we hate to admit this to ourselves, let alone to others. Yet if we're brave enough to seek an honest opinion about ourselves then we might learn things we'd otherwise have been blind to. I've learned this on a whole new level over the past couple of weeks. I've had some articles published on one of the worlds biggest websites, and when you achieve this there's a comments section during which your work get's critiqued. Be prepared for the rough and the smooth; you can be sure that somebody out there is going to highlight a weakness or a bit of errant thinking.  Be grateful for alternate viewpoints, yet not to such an extent that you cannot see errors in them, too.
Finally, be open to the new, the unexpected, and don't duck for cover when you're dragged out of your comfort zone. I've always found it kind of tragic when I see people so desperate to insulate themselves against any and all hardship they seek the route of least resistance. If you succumb to cowardice don't be surprised if you don't grow, and if you don't grow then you limit the amount of potential life experience available to you. If you really want to rob yourself then that's your business, and perhaps I'm pushing you too hard. It's just that when I've stepped out, when I've said to myself that there's more to life than this, then every time I've been amazed how true that conviction has shown to be.

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