Questioning the merits of living life in a value-bubble has been with me for awhile, even pre-Covid. Essentially, as we get older and accumulate a better sense of our identity, likes and dislikes, we start to remove people and circumstances which don’t fit with our life values. There is a logic and usefulness to this, of course. Life is short and we don’t want to waste time. It doesn’t make sense to engage with situations that don’t align with what we have decided to be beneficial to our evolution. But the counter question is how do we expect to evolve if we surround ourselves with only mirrored templates of ourselves? As a friend once analogised – you never really know if you are a recovered alcoholic if you don’t put yourself in an environment with alcohol and somehow still choose to overcome it.
Such contemplations were recently rejigged when listening to this podcast. It was a discussion about how we often ‘logic bully’ ourselves to stay in our safe certainties and somewhat binary universe – https://podcasts.apple.com/ch/podcast/gwyneth-paltrow-x-adam-grant-think-again/id1352546554?i=1000512206277
I operate substantially emotively, before I do intellectually. And emotionally, most of my life has been about gravitating towards feeling good. I like to be enriched, inspired, and motivated. There is a beauty in the symbiotic relationship when pilates-loving, spiritual-healing, world-traveling, humanitarian-addict and tree-hugging aspirants join forces together in our discourse and activity of similar ilk. It’s like being on an endless detox spa with green juice and quinoa salads as we inspire each other to keep growing in inner peace and self-acceptance, clear on our collective position on faith, BLM, racism, xenophobia, and US foreign policy in the Middle East. But it’s a somewhat solitary form of growth, isn’t it?
Compare this mutual back-patting orgy of enlightenment to one where someone challenges us out of our value-bubble, and we need to reflect, share our perspective in the spirit of learning and not picking a side, and try to both enrol the other while being enrolled ourselves. What type of effect does the latter have in our growth? I think it helps with our humility, our dexterity in conveying our truth without diminishing someone else from their journey of growth, accepting that our identity is not inextricably tied in with our opinions, and respecting people for being human, not for their opinions. It’s possible to have a strong position on what racism looks like, and accept that some may not share the exact same nuanced view as ours. It doesn’t mean we need to eliminate their worth as a person, it just means that people on diverging paths as ours, can still contribute to our development, if nothing else than to help us be even more comfortable with why we have taken the stand we have. But it’s a growth that involves internal disruption, self examination and empathy for others, and not one which is based entirely on dying on the hill of being right.
Having said all this, I’m still at the infancy of this new chapter. It takes more effort and is certainly a lot less pleasurable than hanging out with hardcore les bobos in a yoga retreat for sure, but maybe it’s time to move on and seek higher pastures of self-knowledge and inner confidence.