There is overwhelming social pressure to identify who we are to others with labels, and to put labels on other people. For example, it is hard, when we meet others socially, to keep from asking that person what they do for a living, as well as tell them what we do to earn a living. Suggestions on how to overcome doing this in a social situation have been around for a long time now.

In the business world, more recently, executives have been told to, "think outside the box." I have never read of any helpful suggestions on how someone is to achieve, "thinking outside the box," other than the implication that our "boxes" are made up of habitual ways of thinking. Traditionally, such alternative ways of thinking has been called, "creativity."

Very few individuals understand how they have, "put themselves in boxes" by identifying with various aspects of their lives--Doctor, Executive, Social Worker, Office Worker, Secretary, Artist, Plumber, Writer, etc., etc.--let alone understand the many other ways they do so. Any and all of these occupations, and all the other ways we spend a large part of our time occupied in, are shorthand labels for ways in which we have identified ourselves with that activity.

When we get older, we say, "I'm Retired.." At "retirement" many people feel lost, unable to redefine themselves; many experience declining health, or manage to find something else by which to identify themselves. The lucky ones actually achieve freedom to explore who they are.

We also identify ourselves by other aspects of our Belief Systems: I'm a Republican, Democrat, Independent; I'm a Christian; I'm an Atheist; I'm a Tea Bagger, etc., etc. Living in a diverse country, we also identify with our cultural heritage--Italian, Jew, American Indian, Black, etc., etc. We may not identify ourselves to others by other aspects we have taken on, such as Vegetarian, Pro-life, Women's Liberation, Anti-socialist, etc., etc., but these are just more ways in which we identify ourselves to ourselves.

We identify ourselves with what we have been educated/indoctrinated to believe. The more education we have in any field of, "knowledge" the more we will identify with that specialty's embedded Beliefs. Every field of, "knowledge" is a Belief System, (if you doubt it, try questioning the basic precepts of any one of them.). If you have developed your own specialized version of any "field of knowledge," all of the information that makes up your personal version, are also a major part of your Belief System.

Many beliefs, (Programming and Indoctrination) are Unconscious; incorporated through what we read, watch, see and hear. It is usually in these ways that we unconsciously identify with what we have been Programmed/Indoctrinated to believe to be truths about ourselves. Many women and even younger-and-younger females, have been indoctrinated, by their role models--actresses and fashion models--to the extent that they are ruining their health in order to be very thin, (You can never be too rich, or too thin!").

We identify totally with our Beliefs about what we consider to be, "reality"--our planet with all of its components--and what we experience on a day-to-day basis. The human belief that we are free to use and abuse the Earth's riches to our greedy-hearts content, has recently been challenged by the science/concept of Ecology. Those challenges are being fought just as strongly currently as those who, in past ages, maintained that the Earth was round, not flat. Many are currently having various beliefs challenged about just how predictable our world is, as many experience extreme climate, and even day-to-day, weather.

Only by understanding that everything we have come to believe, and incorporated as Facts, Truth, Science, and Reality, are only working hypotheses, and have begun to question their accuracy, will we reach a place where we can even begin to, "think outside our boxes." In actuality, we think with our Beliefs. When we think we are, "thinking," we are only rearranging our Beliefs; we usually start, "thinking" about something when a Belief has been challenged. In, "thinking" we are actually discarding that which does not fit within our Belief System. We cannot begin to think outside of our beliefs until and unless everything we believe is brought into consciousness, at least to some degree, and put into a category of, "as if facts" until established otherwise.

Author's Bio: 

My self-educational background has been in learning, and writing about, why people do what they do. My educational background includes the study of established Belief Systems in the field of Psychology, ranging from Freudian theory through Abraham Maslow's work on fully-functioning individuals, as well as Art. My BA is in Human Services, and my Masters is in Art Therapy--MA-AT.

In the 1970's I wrote a manuscript, (unpublished) called: You in the Process of Becoming; A Guide to the Self. In it I outlined a systems approach to understanding human behavioral dis-functioning. My current writing and thinking is an outgrowth of the understanding that, if an individual wishes to be able to think, "critically," i.e., originally, clearly and without contamination from Consensus Belief Systems, it is essential for that individual to thoroughly understand their own underlying Belief System.

This approach can be used in understanding an individual's problems in dealing with everyday situations and problems in relationships. In discovering how one's underlying beliefs shape personal behavior, and examining where those beliefs came from, can do much to change the resultant behavior.

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