In a recent social media exchange, the question of when to accept the status quo and when to uphold one’s beliefs was sparked. I posted, “When faced with an unchangeable situation, take a moment to reconsider your perspective.” I firmly believe that adapting to change is a valuable skill.
However, one person’s response challenged my viewpoint: “Patricia, I usually love your posts, but I disagree with this one. When can you truly say a situation is unchangeable? And when is it right to compromise your beliefs?”
In reply, I expressed my appreciation for the thoughtful question and my enthusiasm for philosophical discussions.
It’s intriguing how wisdom often harbors contradictory notions. Psychologists label those who hold incongruent beliefs as experiencing cognitive dissonance. On the other hand, researchers identify individuals who comfortably tolerate ambiguity as resilient. Let’s explore conflicting beliefs through some examples:
- “Keep commitments” vs. “Jump at opportunity.”
- “Look before you leap” vs. “Take a leap of faith.”
- “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” vs. “Better safe than sorry.”
- “Never give up” vs. “Know when to give up.”
- “Stick to your guns” vs. “Don’t flog a dead horse.”
- “Pick your hill to die on” vs. “It doesn’t really matter.”
Acceptance of the Present
Now, let’s address my social media, friend’s questions: “When can a situation not be changed?” Here are some reflections:
- Generally, you cannot alter other people’s beliefs and behaviors. Influence often results from modeling and inviting change, rather than imposing it.
- Natural disasters, like the Alberta floods, may necessitate accepting property loss, including irreplaceable keepsakes.
- The loss of a loved one is an unchangeable situation.
- Physical attributes like height and bone structure are unchangeable, though some cosmetic alterations are possible.
- Limb loss and quadriplegia remain unalterable, as discussed in W. Mitchell’s book, “It’s Not What Happens To You, It’s What You Do About It.”
My personal example involves accepting and adjusting expectations after discovering that my daughter and two grandchildren have disabilities, a journey we documented in the book Love Her As She Is.
Standing Firm for Your Beliefs
When is it right to stand by your convictions? This question often necessitates wisdom, as exemplified by the Serenity Prayer: “Grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, the courage to change what I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Additionally, the adage “Pick your battles” reminds us that not all causes are worth our time and energy.
Some individuals commit a lifetime to causes they are passionate about, such as Nelson Mandela’s fight against apartheid and Martin Luther King’s battle against racism. Ultimately, each person determines what matters most to them.
This discussion also touches on our values, integrity, and universal virtues, which guide our decisions.
In conclusion, I am grateful for the opportunity to question, wonder, and share. I encourage you to reflect on the contradictory beliefs you’ve encountered in your own life and when you’ve decided to accept and when you decided to stand firm.
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Let’s continue the conversation: What conflicting beliefs have you grappled with? Share your thoughts!