The Importance of Being Wrong.
Mark Twain once said, “”It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so,” and Ram Tzu (Wayne Liquorman) also nailed the sentiment with, “Bring me your dearest held beliefs and with any luck you will leave without them.”
During my life, on many occasions, I’ve been absolutely sure of something, and more often than not, after some time, it was proved to be, at best, flawed, or at worst, a load of rubbish. I would always pride myself on having an open mind, but sometimes I’ve been stuck on something for years that looking back, didn’t really serve me at all.
Now, on one level everything is one, “we are that” and all is unfolding as it should, so there is never anything that doesn’t serve us, but when dealing with healing the body, sometimes we have to “come down” a level or two. Back in 1996/7 when I wrote the first edition of Pure Activity, I really thought I knew it all. I had been a hippy, I’d been a yogi, and now I was a personal trainer into diet, exercise and bodybuilding. Surely I must have had all bases covered? Well, there are a few beliefs from back then that have only been tweaked slightly, but from my experiences since, I am open to them being totally blown out of the water – I just haven’t found anything to replace them yet. Some beliefs I held dear though, like vegetarianism for example, I have since seen to be very damaging… at least to me.
Sometimes I have had to be slapped hard by life to get rid of these beliefs. Although at the time I got really ill in 2010 I was eating a bit of chicken now and again, in my heart I still believed that vegetarianism was the best way to go, and I actually felt a pang of guilt every time I ate it. Back in the days when I was in tremendous pain with my joints, I still clung onto that notion and went full-on vegan and then raw vegan, and experimented with that for a year or so. Still in pain, but having lost a lot of muscle while retaining the fat, I finally twigged something was amiss, and came to the idea of Paleo eating… the details of which are a story for another time. This shift in my thinking was perhaps the most dramatic step towards health on my journey. It’s not a cure – for that you have to go and squash some far deeper and subtler brainwashing, but it was a start.
Since then I’ve been known as somebody who bangs on about Paleo a lot, and understandably. I live in Skelmersdale, a community in the north of England where there are a lot of TM meditators, many of whom are still caught up in vegetarianism. Now, it’s a personal choice of course, and we all have the path we are supposed to take in life with all its consequences, but it always broke my heart when somebody was ill, asked me how I had improved my health and then when I told them, replied with, “Eew, I could never eat meat, and I do love bread!” Vegetarianism in spiritual communities is a classic meme, coming from old Hindu ideals, and in my opinion, utterly outdated for modern day realities. I guess nothing had actually hurt enough yet to make them let go. That’s why I’m so grateful for arthritis – it was the kick I needed!
Now, I’m not actually attached to Paleo eating. Okay, it’s the best plan I have found so far, but I’m totally open to the idea that somebody might come along and discover a theory that blows it out of the water and presents something that gives far more benefits. If so, I’ve learned my lessons enough to be totally open to that, and I’ll be the first to start excitedly blogging about it and punishing my friends with my zeal.
There used to be a certain embarrassment when I discovered I was wrong, and some degree of resistance to change, but now there is purely excitement that another discovery is round the corner. I had to let go of so many concepts and take on so many new ones in the three years after I got ill that being wrong has become a kind of hobby. It is ALWAYS the gateway to something better.
If you even suspect you might be wrong about something, just let it go and see what comes up. Life actually gives us what we need at the pace we can handle it. I guarantee that better information will come to you very quickly and it will always be a step in an evolutionary direction.
A while ago I was wandering round London killing time before a meeting, listening on my headphones to Wayne Dyer speaking about memes. Something struck me very deeply about his description of most of the things we believe being just mind viruses – something we have been told by somebody else, and which we have little or no proof of, yet we cling desperately to them, often to our detriment, and that’s exactly the pattern I can see in myself and so many others. I hope that I’ve loosened that tendency somewhat, because in the end we are just little kids on this planet with only a few years’ experience, yet we seem to get such entrenched views about things that if we really examine closely, fall apart.
So, next time you’re wrong and find you’ve been clinging to a meme, don’t beat yourself up, deny it, or resist it – treat it as a blessing! You’re evolving!
But don’t get too attached to the new the meme that you replace the old meme with – it’s probably crap too!