Jamie Barrows

Girl Hiding her face

Our lives are filled with contradictions. We believe all kinds of things, and use those beliefs to justify our standards and actions. But usually we won’t apply those beliefs to every situation or aspect of our lives. Just the ones we feel comfortable with.

Sometimes we even believe things that are contradictory in themselves. Beliefs that can’t both be true, but that make us feel better. We just refuse to face the logical conclusion of those beliefs. Why? Because then we might have to change, or accept a truth we don’t like.

I fully understand this mindset, because I do it myself nearly everyday. It’s something we all do. We don’t think about the contradictions in our beliefs. Because as long as we don’t think about them, we don’t have to confront those contradictions.

But what happens when you are forced to confront that contradiction? Do you examine the beliefs and resolve the contradictions? That is what we should do, but most of us rarely do that.

Most of us go on the defensive. We like our contradictory beliefs, and we want to hold on to them. We start avoiding the person or situation that is forcing that confrontation. We do our best to hide from it because as long as we hide from it we don’t have to deal with it. We stick our heads in the sand and pretend not to notice things we would rather not notice.

Other times, we go into attack mode. We demonize the thing that causes the confrontation. If the person, organization, or situation can be painted as evil, then we can justify avoidance. So we discredit the thing that is causing the confrontation. We don’t deal with the contradiction, we attack whatever is bringing that contradiction to light.

Too often I fall into the avoid or attack patterns when I’m forced to confront a contradiction in my life. Most of the time I don’t even realize I’ve fallen into one of those patterns. I’m so used to it that the response is almost instinctive.

When I started to write this, I was going to give some examples of contradictions I’ve found in my own life. But I don’t think I will. I don’t want to be the thing that forces a confrontation of your beliefs. Mainly I don’t want to invoke one of the responses I mentioned in this post. I’d rather you just thought about contradictions on your own.

That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to try to find and deal with the contradictions in my life now. Rather than waiting for a confrontation. And I’m going to try to keep in mind my tendency to avoid or attack when I am confronted. Hopefully I can do better at this than I have in the past.

3 Responses to “Contradictions”

  • Alexander Says:

    Nice and good thoughts!

    I think everybody is familiar with those feelings. For me it is a matter of personal development, of maturity, to deal with them in a more constructive way.
    The one thing is to be engaged with the situation in yourself.
    The other is to have a (good) “counter”part that helps sometimes discussing such points of view for helping each other to advance by the process of a good discussion. Even if there appear sometimes such negative emotions.
    To avail that contradictions, like the philosophical “thesis” and “antithesis” will result in the “synthesis” = on a higher level.

    People that tolerate avoidance (and neglect) or aggressiveness as a sign of your inner disturbances, or need of a protection for your “self” may be friends.
    I wish you might have many good friends to develop this ability in your personality!

    If I register in an other person such tendencies, I try to tolerate it and not try to “correct” this “point of view” too much.
    Unless they are friends :-)

    If I detect in myself such symptoms as a more than adequate aggressiveness or the unability to handle a situation – at least if I’m quiet with myself I try to find the reasons in myself (!) that let me feel and behave like this – and try to find a better way.

  • Heidi Says:

    One thing that helps me is to contextualize. In what sorts of situations would one side be more ethical or compassionate, etc – what about the other? Sometimes we have the illusion that there is always a universality to our truths and beliefs when that is not the case.

  • Anne Says:

    I can totally understnad what you said. I have often tried to face the contradictions and unravel the truth. Though, it can be rather painful at times and fights against the human nature to just let life continue to flow without any unpleasantness.

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