I have been thinking a lot about belief systems recently – specifically mine. Our beliefs are not hardwired in our DNA, we create them or they can be created for us, often by family – a set of rules to live by. Woven into the very fabric of our being, beliefs can make or break us.
I have come to realise that the belief system I have grown up with is not aligned with what I think and feel these days – it doesn’t reflect who I am anymore. So I have been unpicking it and rebuilding a new set of beliefs. But having been raised in a very traditional Indian family I feel guilty for doing this.
The belief system I grew up with is born out of my family’s heritage and religious beliefs, which is logical. Luck, fate and destiny are the pillars of this belief system, very closely intertwined with fear and superstition. If things didn’t go my way as a child I was told it was my fate or bad luck – or it probably wasn’t part of my destiny.
As a teenager if I went off the rails – which was my parent’s definition for boyfriends, late nights out, and getting drunk – I was reprimanded and told that if I did something my parents didn’t approve of, something bad was bound to happen.
When I was young, I did try to conform, partly because I am a massive people pleaser and partly because the way you are brought up when you are a child is all you know – it is the bedrock of your beliefs.
Being safe, being worried of the next the bad thing that might happen and not pushing the boundaries were the overriding messages I grew up with.
Life felt contained and something very primal in me was uncomfortable with this fearful way of living. Though for my mother and many of my older relatives it made total sense and it still does, which is of course fine.
So, it has taken a while – but I have, and probably still am, building a belief system that makes much more sense to me – led my heart and my instincts – not what I “should” do, or what I was told to do.
I am still working through the guilt as I feel like I am betraying my mother at times, but in reality recognising that I have recreated my belief system and that there are many “right’ ways to live is ok.
I hope also through me questioning the belief system I grew up with, I have parented in a way that has allowed my children to create their own set of beliefs and with that, a freedom to live how they want.
After all, life to me isn’t about worry and fear. It is about fun, experimenting, exploring and living fully – whatever that means to you.
There is a Bengali phrase my mother used to say to me a lot, and it loosely translates to, “The more you laugh, the more you’ll cry”. This also formed part of her beliefs, and I was often told not too have too much fun because it might lead to sadness. This never made sense to me and feels totally counterintuitive.
I will not curtail the joyous, wonderful, happy moments in my life because something bad might happen. And laughing is hands down one of my most favourite things to do. If anything, the good times give me the strength to overcome any challenges that come my way.
Growing up, my fate and destiny filled me with a feeling of foreboding, I never thought they could be a roadmap of excitement, magic and wonder – but I do now… that’s what I believe.