In 2001, an Australian Tv crew flew to Papua New Guinea to cover the story of an unusual tribe called Korowai.
Korowai was infamous for practising cannabilism. Whenever there was a death in the tribe, they believed it was because of someone’s black magic. So the clan leaders, upon deciding who the sorcerer was, brutally killed and ate the alleged.
How they concluded who the sorcerer was was entirely unfounded. They killed and ate anybody they arbitrarily assumed. It could be their own family member, best friend or even children.
To reach the Korowai, the crew had to endure 18 soul-draining hours of boating, trekking and treads across miles of swamps into the forest. It was the first time someone foreign attempted to enter the tribe’s soil, so they had zero clue what lay ahead for them.
When the crew finally reached the tribe, they were surprised to see how kind and welcoming the natives were. And equally kind, if not more, were the cannibals. They appeared outright guiltless, and with a child-like innocence, described the stories of how they hacked and consumed human flesh. Listening to these bone-chilling stories from the cannibals themselves made the crew almost shit on the ground.
It was the crew’s final day at the tribe when they learnt about Wawa, a 6-year-old kid, marked to death by the cannibal tribe. Wawa was labelled a ‘bad-spirit’ responsible for the death of his own parents.
Though the crew wanted to help, they couldn’t do anything against the tribe. Helpless, they flew to Australia leaving behind Wawa. Wawa’s terror-stricken stare haunted them for many days.
However, when the news of Wawa aired, it broke the entire nation’s heart. Funds and help started pouring in from all directions.
Shortly after, he was successfully rescued and brought to Sumatra. There he was adopted and raised by Kornelus, a local guide from Sumatra, who led the entire rescue process. Wawa completed school and college education.
But the story didn’t end there. Many years later, the 20-year-old Wawa decided one day to go back to his tribe. He wanted to confront the same tribe leaders that sentenced him to death.
And so went Wawa to the Korowai. Met the same people face-to-face, unfazed.
But confronting them wasn’t alone his goal. He also wanted to bring a message of love to the tribe.
So Wawa tried his best to educate the tribe on why they should let go of cannabilism and other cruel things they considered their tradition. And most of what he preached did appear to sink in for the natives, too. Impressed by Wawa’s intelligence, the tribe even offered to make him their leader.
Wawa returned to Sumatra to Kornelus’ after a few days.
It’s said that Cannabilism is still being practised in Korowai. The tribe people claim they don’t, though. Perhaps they are trying to preserve their traditions.
Now imagine this, if Wawa wasn’t labelled a sorcerer and grown up to be an adult in Korowai, what were the odds of him becoming a cannibal himself? Very likely, isn’t it?
Forget Wawa. If you and me were born in that tribe, wouldn’t we have become cannibals?
Your beliefs about anything in life is a product of the environment and people you grew up around. Your hometown, your parents, friends, acquaintances and every single person you’ve met so far has played some part in shaping your present beliefs. You are subconsciously shaped by all the things around you.
Sure, it’s true that these collected beliefs are the reason why we act civilised and matured. But some of the beliefs can also act as double-edged sword, and weigh us down.
Ever looked at someone and wondered how talented they are; yet, they are in circles doing something that doesn’t remotely do justice to their potential? Or seen people settling for relationships that isn’t worth a fraction of what they deserve? Or felt why someone should behave like an absolute asshole when they could do much better?
We form most of our beliefs early on in life—as children and teenagers. During that phase, we don’t necessarily handpick only good elements from our environment and shape our beliefs. We also pick the ones we aren’t supposed to.
As we become adults, we obviously drop most of these past beliefs. But some beliefs stowaway. It’s these beliefs that are the problem. Gradually, with time, we become captive to these beliefs—usually for life; because, as adults, we don’t take enough time to analyse and filter these beliefs.
For us to unlock our fullest potential in any area of life, we must first clean up this pile. We must unlearn these beliefs. Only then we can fly high, as would a hot air balloon once it drops the sandbags.
But how do we do it?
Abandoning a belief of years isn’t a cakewalk.
And I say that because, lurking behind every belief is a mountain of ego. Taming that ego is the only real challenge when it comes to changing our beliefs.
What will help us tremendously in relinquishing this ego is understanding the idea that “we didn’t form our beliefs on our own, so we should hold on to them lightly.”
We only handpicked things from other people around us. So now it’s time to drop the ones that don’t serve us and ones that keep us trapped.
Once we get this idea straight, we will have little to no resistance in changing our beliefs. We’ll become less emotionally attached to them. We only resist giving up on something as long as we claim ownership over it. But once we disown it, we will have the power to let it go. We’ll be free.
If we are free, we then automatically start to question our beliefs: “Why am I thinking what am I thinking?” “Is what I’m thinking is really me or my friend or my parents?” “Is this belief me, or my hometown.” “How would I go about doing this thing if I were not born in this family?”…. and so on.
And as such, if you question your beliefs every once in a while, you will move closer to finding who you truly are; what your true capabilities and potential are.
Even if others pinpoint or criticise you of something, you won’t become defensive about it. Rather, you will remain calm and collected, regardless of whether they’re correct or outright bullshitting.
Beliefs are Variables of Time
Another idea that will help you ease the process of changing your beliefs is understanding the instability of beliefs with time.
Most of our beliefs are variables of time. What you like in this phase of life may not be something that you will necessarily like five years down the lane. To hell with, we cringe at the things we did just a year or two ago though it felt right at the time. What surity we have that we won’t cringe at the things we do now? Or regret later at the things we didn’t attempt now because we held a different set of beliefs?
A good example of this would be the career switches of people in different fields even though they were doing extremely well in that. From star athletes to actors to musicians to entrepreneurs to physicians, we have heard countless stories of people switching careers halfway. You may have seen people switching career in your own life either. Our beliefs in life changes with time, and so do our priorities.
That is why, sometimes going against your convictions helps to a greater extent when deciding for your own. Because all your decision patterns are influenced by your past, the fears, traumas and the experiences you have had in life.
So, whenever you want to do something, let’s say, you wanna take a leap of faith, and you feel some hesitation, go ahead and do it because, it’s possible that the beliefs you hold may be untrue and they are a vanity.
You have probably heard of this fact that the colours of the things we see around with our eyes is not their original colour but merely the reflection of light on them. Our beliefs are no different.
In understanding these two ideas (a) Our beliefs are not formed on our own, b) beliefs are variable of time) lies your growth and ultimate freedom. Like physical freedom, if not more than that, what matters the most is the mental freedom. Free of no influences and impacts. You’re just being yourself. Imagine that. That is the true freedom. Only then we can proudly say we are on our own.
And again, changing our beliefs is not easy. It takes time.
After all, if changing one’s beliefs were that easy then everybody would be able to pull anything they want out of life. Yet, by questioning your beliefs, you will at least question the logic and understand the meaning behind doing things in life as opposed to going about life in auto-pilot mode. So hold on to your beliefs just enough loosely yet not very firmly so you can let go of them when need be.
I’m not saying you have to be constantly doubtful about your beliefs and be shaky about it. Just be sure to ponder over your actions every once in a while. That is all.
Also, it’s possible that despite doing this analyses on our beliefs, we will still choose beliefs that only serve us and completely ignore the ones that don’t. We might bend beliefs according to our convenience.
One possible solution to that paradox is to broaden your scope of knowledge and experience in life. Only, and only, that can open up your third eye.
The more we expand our knowledge, the more resources we will have to take good decisions.