The Personal Evolution Of Thoughts And Values

What got me thinking about the topic of today was the realization I had writing one of my blog posts recently. Abraham Maslow a pioneering thinker about the healthy psychological development of human beings said, “we humans need to continue to grow to feel good about ourselves.” If you and I are growing and learning from life, then we are feeling positive about ourselves. This poses a question for me. That question is, if we are growing then isn’t our thinking and values evolving as we grow?

In my work with people in addiction recovery, I see how once the use and abuse of substances took over their lives, their thought development and values seem to go on hold. In other words because they were numbing out, their ability to learn from life slowed way down. This means their thinking and values stayed about where they were when they started to use their substances of choice. When they go into recovery mode these thoughts and values begin to change and evolve because they are again open to learning and growth.

How does this translate to the rest of us that are not numbed out? First of all there are other ways to numb out, being a workaholic, drama addict, gambler, seeking power, money driven, extreme fitness fanatic, sexual addiction, approval seeker, self-destructive behaviors, and other ways that we avoid being fully present to the world. These ways and other can keep people so preoccupied that their growth is obstructed.

As I write this, I am having an insight as to why political people can be so stuck in the evolution of their thought and values. My insight is that because they are in pursuit of power their growth is slowed down and their thoughts and values become rigid or tend to be stated to others according to what they think others want to hear. (Some politicians, more on a local level, are driven by the desire to serve not because they seek power.) Let me try to say this in another way. Those who are driven to seek power short circuit the growth process and their values tend to not evolve. That is why we have so much political rigid thinking and values that show no evolution of thought.

Let me give you some examples:
• Thinking war is an option to deal with conflict, this is old rigid ego-driven thinking that doesn’t value life. There is no understanding of the connection of all human beings to each other.
• Thinking people of different sexual orientation are bad or wrong, this thinking is about old beliefs and self-righteousness. This moralistic point of view lacks an open heart and the appreciation for human diversity.
• Thinking that a world run by profits is ok, this thinking is full of rationalization and lacks the consciousness that people matter much more than money. There is no evolution of compassion here or awareness of higher values.
• Thinking that the using fear is ok to push your agenda, this shows the unhealthy power of the mind to rationalize manipulating others. This kind of control-seeking thinking has driven our country into many problems.

Hopefully these examples where helpful, if you take some time to think about these, you will come up with other clear examples.

So rigid thinking and old values say the person is not growing. Conservative means not wanting to change, holding onto the traditional ways. This to me means people who have stopped their evolution of thinking, who are unwilling to examine their beliefs, and who don’t question their values. This is a perfectly ok point of view for individuals to take. Holding on to what is familiar makes sense in an uncertain world. This rigidity however cannot lead a nation back to health. Withholding oneself from a regular self-examination will slow growth down and fill the person with self-doubt. Those that shout the loudest about their beliefs oftentimes are filled with self-doubt. If you turn on talk radio, you will here lots of opinions, many of which are rigid and from very frustrated people, people who have much self-doubt.

These insights or perspective are still evolving as I write this. Please question all of my ideas. Your mind, your heart, your values and beliefs need to continue to evolve so that you can grow and feel good about yourself. My life is committed to life long-learning, please join me on the path to personal growth and the realization of the human potential.