Your Religion Is Not Your Identity

One trap many people fall into is identifying with their beliefs. A belief is a lens, a perspective, a way of viewing reality from a certain angle. A belief is a thought pattern, and thought patterns change.

You are not a Christian or a Buddhist or anything so limited. You are more than that. Don’t stuff your identity into a mindset box someone else taught you to adopt.

You may find a thought pattern empowering or limiting, perhaps experiencing both aspects in different ways. But I wouldn’t recommend identifying with a constructed thought pattern, especially an inconsistent collection of beliefs like a religion, since that will only choke off your experience of the variety and expansiveness of life.

Use beliefs more rationally instead. Use them as tools for exploring and experiencing reality in different ways. Pick them up and put them down. Change them up now and then. Don’t limit yourself to a singular perspective because that will limit the range of problems you can solve and the experiences you can access, which will chain your self-development like a bear caught in a bear trap.

Identifying with a belief grants a false, irrational sense of clarity. I understand that it can be comforting, but fool’s clarity isn’t genuine.

You can interact with reality through the lens of a religion if you’d like, but don’t try to become the lens, especially when others prod you to comply (usually for their personal benefit, not yours). You’ll surely fail in doing so.

Notice instead that while you may appreciate some aspects of the lens, you find better balance by not using it all the time. Sometimes you may even do the opposite of what that lens requires. Enjoy and appreciate that balance because it broadens your perspective. And restore rationality by admitting to yourself that you are not that lens all the time. It’s just one of many ways of viewing reality.

Get curious about the lenses beyond your current favorites. Explore some new lenses deliberately, and you’ll discover that no lens is truth. Lenses can only reveal different aspects of truth. You’ll discover more truth by exploring different lenses than you will by trying to become a one-lens wonder.

You are not your lenses. You’re not your beliefs. You’re not your religion. If you want to wrap yourself in the childish snuggle blanket of religion (or any other belief system) now and then, feel free, but also explore the world beyond. Learn to deftly use a variety of lenses to explore life. It may seem scary at first, but like any maturation process, you’ll find it rewarding once you get used to it.

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Read Your Religion Is Not Your Identity by Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina is an American self-help author, motivational speaker and entrepreneur. He is the author of the web site and the book Personal Development for Smart People.

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