Are You Conforming to Other People's Beliefs?

Are You Conforming to Other People's Beliefs?

What we think we know to be true, we actually borrowed from somebody else. When you were born, your subconscious mind began to record all the sensations and inputs you were exposed to. It also recorded the feelings, emotions, and language it became aware of. But, more importantly, it recorded all the subliminal reactions to the emotions, feelings, and attitudes that were part of your family's day-to-day activities. So bit by bit, you sucked up, without question, the tribal belief patterns you were exposed to.

Those tribal belief patterns aren't likely to contradict the ego, because the central point of the tribe's identity is its ego-self, expressed as the tribal mind. What is a tribe if it isn't just a collection of personalities that come together and belong to one genetic, social, or national group? The tribal mind, by its very nature, is laced with a lot of negativity, fear, and dysfunction. Running through all that is the agenda that the collective ego of the tribe would have you accept.

If you are not very evolved, the tribal mind is a good thing because it offers you the familiarity and safety of a collective consciousness — a collective strength. But once you start to reach for your individuality and your Infinite Self, the tribal mind will bug you. It's too restrictive and controlling to hold you for very long.

Tribal Beliefs Teach Fear and Restriction

On the journey from ego to spirit, you'll want to review and possibly ditch many of those beliefs. Tribal beliefs have their social values, but they also teach fear and restriction. "Don't do this; you'll fail. Don't do that; people won't like it."

For the most part, what the tribe wants you to do is sustain its status quo. The programming that our children receive is one that says, "Put yourself aside, sacrifice yourself for others, and support the tribal good. The tribe needs your energy and support to sustain its power base."

When you incarnated onto this earth plane, the structures and institutions — all the regulations, the whole modus operandi, government, taxes, educational system — were already in place. Your Infinite Self had a vision of this and accepted it. At first, you sucked up all the information available. You were trained by your family and teachers at school to be a good little drone and follow the rules. Later in life you could understand all that for what it is.

Conformity to the "Tribe" Represses Individuality and Growth

We tend to think that rules are cast in stone. This is the way it was always done, this is what everybody says, this is how to dress and how to behave. This is hip and cool, and everything else isn't. The human personality desperately needs, as part of its self-image and security, to attempt to elevate itself above others. The tribe does the same. Trying to elevate itself socially over other tribes is part of its security issue. In its need to sustain itself, it requires its members to conform. It doesn't want people being different.

Conformity is dreary because it creates a society of people who are grouped together in a collective globlike evolution. Understand it like this. You're an individual in the sense that you're a unique human within your tribe of origin. But you're not a true spiritual individual until you stand on your own, take charge of your life, and have your own individual destiny, beliefs, and methodology. The tribe won't like you doing that.

Our systems are based on control. The whole idea of Congress, government, taxation, the police state, and local controls is designed to milk the taxpayer and impose control. It's illegal to resist, and we are programmed to feel embarrassed or guilty if we push against the status quo. Nowadays, the status quo is not usually benevolent. It tries to perpetuate itself, writing rules to sustain itself.

The attempted imposition of conformity comes from the desire of a nation or a tribe to sustain not only its political and financial identity, but also its psychic integrity. Imagine a couple of thousand years ago when there was little medical knowledge, little real understanding — you can see how the ordinary tribespeople might have been riddled with fear. When a person dropped dead, they couldn't do an autopsy and say, "Yeah, well, he ate a bunch of crud and died of toxic poisoning." They tended to think that misfortunes (what we call contradictions of the ego) such as famine, disease, death, and so on were manifestations of the wrath of God — that God was pissed with the tribe and therefore sent mayhem down upon them. So when the goat died, it was considered a real bad thing. Obviously, the tribesfolk needed food so they were keen on having the use of the goat.

Their ignorance put them into a very emotional relationship with their fate and God. So if the crops were good that year, God was pleased. A bad crop, pestilence, disease, another tribe coming down from the hills and kicking them stupid — were all manifestations of the wrath of God.

They didn't know of microbes or bacteria. They didn't have antibiotics. They didn't understand how blood pumps around the body. They had no knowledge. None. Period. Full-stop. So you can understand how they really needed community to feel safe. They needed each other for emotional support and to help defend against attack, to care for the crops, tend the animals, and help raise the kids.

Anybody threatening that psychic collectivism was naturally considered evil, and they had to be banished or put to death. The idea developed that if you didn't believe what the tribe believed, somehow you would make the tribe vulnerable, and God would be displeased because of your lack of faith or action. Maybe you didn't follow through on the great hippopotamus ceremony, or maybe every year in June when they threw two virgins off the cliff, you disagreed with that and said, "I don't fancy this virgin-off-a-cliff routine."

Disagreeing assailed the psychic integrity of the tribe, generating fear. So, even in our modern society where we do have medical knowledge and we understand our physical existence quite well, we still have a sense of duty to conform. If you want to rise up in society, especially within the institutions of the status quo, you are required to fit in, follow the system, and not rock the boat. There is very little opportunity within these institutions and old-style corporations for real creativity.

Are You Following Unquestioned Rites and Rituals?

One of the things that makes me laugh is watching men go to work in the financial district — they're all wearing a funny little piece of colored cloth tied around their necks. Take a long, hard look at it — it's a really weird item of dress, and nobody wonders what it's for. You can't blow your nose with it; that would be considered vulgar. It's not a napkin. What is the purpose of this dangling cloth, often made of silk or colored cotton, tied around the neck?

I don't know if you've noticed, but your neck is where air passes through to the body. You'd think that tying something around your windpipe wouldn't be conducive to your well-being or productivity. Yet millions of men go through the symbolic act of strangling themselves every morning, tying a colored cloth around their windpipe. Weird, man, really weird.

I suppose that originally it was some kind of napkin or serviette that was supposed to stop food from falling down your shirt. But the original meaning has long been lost. Now it serves as a symbol of respectability and reliability. The theory is that crooks and incompetents don't wear ties. Yet nobody in the mainstream has ever put their hand up and said, "Excuse me, what's this thing for?"

If you work in a serious corporation, you're required to strangle yourself with this little piece of cloth. It's a way of joining. If, suddenly, you decide to hang your tie out of your pocket instead of around your neck, or if you decide not to wear it at all, you'd be considered unreliable and a troublemaker.

Tribal Mind and The Issue of Control

The whole point of the tribal mind is control. In the olden days, they had to control the women — not just because of psychic integrity, but because the future of the tribe relied on them. The women had to crank out chubbies for the tribe, giving birth to warriors who would defend the joint later on.

So, we've inherited an enormous control of women. It's only recently that women have begun to win equality. Forgive me if this sounds offensive, but in the olden days women were considered the same as cattle. In other words, the more women a tribe had, the more babies they could produce, and therefore the more warriors. Women were a commodity, thought of as part of the wealth of the tribe.

The systems, as a result, needed to control the sexuality of women rigidly. You wouldn't want them banging out chubbies for another tribe. It was only when birth control came along that everything broke down and women could do whatever they wanted. They could raise kids on their own and have sex without worrying about it. They didn't belong to men.

You can see how a lot of the medieval tribal ideas of femininity are still part of our society. There is still the underlying idea that a woman ought to shut up and go and have babies — do what she's supposed to do, not become a millionairess, or have any alternative ideas. The tribes controlled through fear, regulations, and punishment. None of that has changed, really.

Control and The Tribal Religion(s)

From protecting the psychic integrity came religious intolerance and control. The tribes weren't keen on anybody forming their own religion. Everyone had to support the integrity of the tribe's communication with God — the ruler of their fate, or so they believed.

If you internalize God, you'll understand that you don't need a third party to intercede between you and God. If you want to talk to God, all you have to do is quiet the mind through meditation and contemplation and chat away.

In the olden days, the idea was that individuals were too weak and sinful to have a meaningful dialogue with God. So, systems were developed whereby people had to use a third party to communicate with God. Once you had a third party, then all the rules, guilt, and obligations came into play. Now we have a system where there are millions of people on the earth plane who believe that the God Force is within them and they are spiritually free, while others still believe that they are weak and that God is outside of them, so they need someone to intercede on their behalf.

It doesn't mean that you can't be part of a church if you want to be. But control is a very old-fashioned idea, so it had better be a liberal church. Some people enjoy the camaraderie, the friendship, the music, the hymns and the hers, they like being taught by a knowledgeable holy man or woman. Fair enough — if that's what you're into. But the thing to remember is that most of these systems are not designed to set you free.

I was attracted to the philosophy of Taoism because it is not a church — it's an idea to liberate you from pain. Nice one! Taoism doesn't impose any guilt trips on you or make you pay ten percent of your money or load you up with a sack full of do's and don'ts.

It's not to say that all tribal ideas were silly. Some of them made sense. They were ideas about health and hygiene, how to grow food, and how to interrelate peacefully with other members of the tribe. But a lot of it had to do with conforming, control, and making sure you didn't rise above the pack, or woe is you — leave the tribe.

Releasing Tribal Ideas

So, we come onto the earth plane and we accept the tribal belief patterns as being what they are — they will gradually change over the course of time. As you grow more self-confident and become spiritually mature, you'll soon reach a point where you can release most of the tribal ideas without too much apprehension and fear. Then you are free to become an individual, a true spiritual being with a spiritual destiny of your own.

To do that, you have to go beyond the discomfort of distancing yourself from the tribal beliefs, which usually also means you'll disconnect yourself from its acceptance and support. Once you are strong enough and have the confidence to stand on your own, you'll become a real individual — you'll believe in yourself so strongly that you can be different and not worry what others think.

One of the exercises I gave people in a seminar once was to put on a chicken outfit and go to work. So throw away the little piece of cloth around your neck, and put on a chicken outfit instead. Don't explain to anybody at the office why you're wearing a chicken outfit. Let's say you work in a bank. Just walk in, sit down, and start cashing people's checks. When your co-workers ask, "Why are you wearing a chicken outfit?" answer "What chicken outfit?"

The point of this exercise is for you to get into the habit of believing in yourself as a solid inner identity, a spirit, rather than a social projection of self, who has to fit in and win approval by saying all the right things and wearing all the socially acceptable uniforms. Instead, you can say to yourself, "I am what I am. I'm a divine spirit inside a body that happens to be wearing a chicken outfit."

In one seminar, I had three guys from an Australian army commando unit. They really took this idea to heart and marched off to their military barracks dressed in ballerinas' tutu dresses. When they walked past the guard at the gate, he saluted them! You've got to give those lads credit for really believing in themselves — for saying, "I am what I am. I don't have to conform to keep you happy."

Conformity Issues and The Need for Approval

A lot of those conformity issues stem from childhood, and the need of the ego to seek the approval of others. The object of conforming is to keep others happy and to feel accepted. "If I do this and that, will you love me?" "If I have sex with you whenever you want me to, will you love me?" "If I say these nice things, will you consider me holy or spiritual?"

Of course, conformity is imposed from above as a control mechanism. Mostly it's imposed from within, as you'll be afraid initially of breaking out of the status quo — in case you're banished, criticized, or judged. If you've never broken out of the status quo, then tomorrow do something nice and crazy. Go to work in your swimming trunks. Don't put the tie on; wrap your mother's scarf round your neck instead. Spend all day walking backwards. When people ask, "Why are you walking backwards?" say "I like to know where I've been."

Do things to break up the binding rigidity that the mind imposes on you, and the fear it has of breaking away from the mold. Remember, if you can't break away, you're spiritually stuck — forever and ever, amen. You'll have to trot along in the collective destiny of your people. You can't create an alternative reality and a truly independent spiritual evolution for yourself until you break away a little.

For the next two weeks, invent half a dozen ways to break up your normal rhythm of life. For example, go to a restaurant and order your dinner backwards. Start with the coffee, go to the ice cream, then the main dish, and finish with the starter. Pick types of food you never eat. If you hate jazz, go to a jazz club; if you hate broccoli, order a bunch of it at every meal for a week. The routine you are familiar with day-to-day is part of your ego's authority over you. By doing things differently, you begin to challenge its authority.

Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Hay House Inc.
©1996. www.hayhouse.com

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About the Author

Stuart Wilde

Author and lecturer Stuart Wilde was one of the real characters of the self-help, human potential movement. His style was humorous, controversial, poignant, and transformational. He has written 14 books, including those that make up the very successful Taos Quintet, which are considered classics in their genre. They are: Affirmations, The Force, Miracles, The Quickening, and The Trick to Money Is Having Some. Stuart's books have been translated into 12 languages. Learn more at http://www.stuartwilde.com/