When I was a kid, I was very explicit about the fact that I did not like pie. It’s really a shame too because from what I understand, my mother makes great apple and pumpkin pies. Regardless of how much I was missing out, I held firm to my identity as a non-pie eater. Then once at my grandmother’s house, she was getting ready to order a pizza pie and needed to know who wanted some. Despite my mother’s urging that I had eaten it before, I held fast to my pie-free stance. Once the pizzas arrived, my younger self realized the error of his ways. There were exceptions to my pie-free world that I needed to recognize and accept. This was not the absolute commandment that I originally thought that it was.
Commandments or non-negotiables can be extremely important to one’s daily life and overall sense of self. I can hear some of you now “But wait, I’m an atheist (agnostic or not religious). How does this relate to me?” Exactly what you just said, you have a non-negotiable belief structure that guides a significant portion of your life and mental framework. You do not re-evaluate this belief structure regularly. It tends to inform and guide your life rather than the events of your life informing it. Perhaps you are consciously aware of some of your “commandments” while others lie under the surface. Regardless, it may be time to dust off your stone tablets and see what works or what doesn’t.
This introspection may be difficult in the beginning but will be freeing in the end. What do you believe without question about: yourself, life, friendship, marriage, the world? Once you have uncovered your beliefs, it is important to decide if each is a useful belief. There will be some things that are absolute but much of who we are is based on our truth and not the truth. Is it more helpful to believe that you have limited talent, skill or intelligence? Or is it better to believe that you are unlimited in those areas? You should have the final say in the adoption or deletion of your beliefs. The power of organizing them into a rock solid structure that you don’t need to think about because you already have.
One of the most difficult things about living through this era of almost unlimited information is maintaining a sense of who we are. Rather than being pulled in a hundred directions, you will have your own direction. The beauty of these commandments is that they were not handed to you, you chose them yourself. That choice gives you freedom of mind later when you do not have to choose in the moment because you chose long ago. You are the you that you’ve chosen to be.