Reevaluating Worldview: Smashing The Window That Held Me Prisoner

Reevaluating Worldview

Imagine a couple returning from the hospital with their new baby. They walk into their little house, and they take the baby to a window to see the world outside. They show him the wonders of the world through that window. They point out the things to avoid and the things to trust.

Every day, they take their baby to that same window to look out at the same scene. All the while reinforcing how everything within view of that window is how the world actually is.

The baby grows into a child, then a young adult, never seeing the world in any other way. He accepts as reality the world he has always known. Others have tried to show him windows that look out upon different scenes, but he is not interested in any other perspective. To look out a different window would be a betrayal of everything he has learned.

As all maturing adults must do, he moves out on his own. He tries to take the window with him, but it becomes cloudy from lack of maintenance. Eventually, he can barely see out of the window anymore. So, he decides to look out another window. A friend’s window. A lover’s window. The more windows he looks through, the more the window of his youth shrinks. He realizes that the view he thought was the reality, was very limited in perspective. It wasn’t the whole story.

So, what does he do? What would you do if you had lived your life based upon a worldview that you found out was inaccurate?

Many people do everything they can to avoid coming face to face with that kind of paradigm shift. They carefully maintain the perspective they were raised with, so they never suffer the trauma that comes with having their worldview collapse around them.

However, we live in the information age. We get flooded with new information on a constant basis, which questions everything we have ever known. It is almost impossible to maintain a consistent worldview as we expose ourselves to different sources of information, growing and evolving as human beings.

My Initial Worldview

The window my parents showed me looked out on a world destined for annihilation. It was a world of wickedness that deserved God’s wrath.

At some point, that worldview stopped working for me. I couldn’t take the fear, judgment, and negativity. I felt like I was dying from the inside out.

I was nearing 40 when I finally reached my breaking point. I had already invested heavily in my parent’s worldview and as that belief system died, its death throes were significant. Internally, my subconscious mind was endeavoring to seize control. I longed to tear at my chest and scream in an attempt to rid myself of the feeling that I was being buried alive.  

It was years before I had the mental strength to take a sledgehammer to my parent’s window and feel the fresh air on my skin after being trapped behind their stifling perspective.

My first thought was of beautiful freedom. Like I was able to fill my lungs for the first time… ever.

Then came the resentment. I had given the best years of my life to something that wasn’t true. I worked menial jobs and didn’t go to college, so I could spend all my resources serving a corporation that claimed it represented God.

I was angry. My life was almost over and what did I have to show for it? Who decides to start over at 40? I lost my friends. I lost my family. I lost my community.

That was six years ago. Since then I have started living life on my terms. I have taken on habits that have helped me to heal from the anger and resentment. My life is so good now I have to pinch myself to make sure it is happening.

I moved 3000 miles away from a community that evicted me when I stopped believing. I have re-established a life that is focused on healing, personal growth and helping others.

I think back to the time I spent living according to someone else’s standards as a dark dungeon-like existence. I can’t help but feel profound pity for anyone still experiencing the burden of it. I wouldn’t go back for anything. Not even for all the money in the world. I realize now that freedom is worth more than anything else. Having the ability to choose my destiny is priceless. Choosing the people I will surround myself with is a privilege I never knew until recently.

I’m here to say don’t be afraid to smash whatever window, or perspective, is not serving you. Don’t be afraid to alter your worldview – even multiple times if necessary. Growth requires that we change and adapt as we gather new information.

I’ve seen a lot of people who left the same belief system I did who won’t move past it. They don’t heal. They continue regurgitating the resentment and anger over the things they felt were robbed from them.

Losing one’s belief system is like seeing someone you love die. You will go through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. If you never move past the anger stage, you don’t grow. If you’re not growing, you might as well be back where you started.

Stages of RecoveryReevaluating Worldview Two

So, where do you go after you burn the bridges that connect you to a belief system? Healing is the first step. Professional counseling may be in order. Journaling, meditation, energy healing, removing yourself from the toxic environment, and time – lots of time.

Grief takes time to heal. Don’t push yourself or you won’t heal completely. But don’t get stuck in the healing mode either. I felt so alienated as I was trying to recover that I became agoraphobic. I was afraid to leave the house. Social obligations overwhelmed me. I had isolated myself to the point of social dysfunction.

If you’ve been healing for so long that you get to the point of being a complete shut-in, it is time to move on. Try achievement for awhile. If there is something that still needs healing, it will rear its ugly head eventually. (For more information on the three levels of growth, listen to the podcast on the HAT Model.)

The first few years after I left my belief system, I had nightmares about it. At first, the former friends would just look at me with disgust but as time went on the dreams became more violent. Almost every night I would dream that the people who used to love me wanted to kill me. They were an angry mob hunting me down as I ran through a dark forest.

The final dream happened as I was attending a Reiki Workshop. I had gotten a lot of energetic work during the workshop and apparently it brought on a shift. In the last dream, I was trapped inside my parent’s house while an angry mob surrounded it. I heard something in one of the back bedrooms and when I went to investigate, a woman was crawling through the window. She was dressed in black. I knew she was an assassin. I assumed she was there to kill me. She jumped down from the windowsill and walked slowly toward me. I thought I was about to die. They had finally gotten to me.

“What should I do to them?” she asked me. Suddenly, I realized she was there to serve me. She was my assassin. Somehow, the tables had turned and I was no longer the victim.

That was a couple of years ago. Since then, I have continued getting energetic treatments and have noticed incredible changes in my self-confidence and worldview. I continue to meditate and journal.

The first time I ever experienced gratitude was after my parent’s belief system had officially evicted me. Since then, the gratitude has continued to grow on a daily basis. It now rests permanently just over my heart as a warm spot that reminds me of how much I have to be thankful for, and what it cost to be where I am.

I wouldn’t change any of it.

Give yourself permission to change your worldview. Keep your mind open enough to be able to contemplate other perspectives and reevaluate your viewpoints.

If you have spent your life looking out the same window, is it authentic to you? How many other windows have you looked through? Does your worldview make you a better person? Are you able to grow and evolve within your current worldview?

This article is not meant to indicate that a faith based belief system is a sign of a closed mind. I have met many open-minded people who are people of faith. My purpose in writing this article is to encourage an honest appraisal of your worldview. Worldviews aren’t always faith based. They can be political or social. They can even be personal, such as the belief that you are a victim or undeserving of love and/or success.

No matter how you express your belief, if it is disempowering to you, then you need to reevaluate. Life should not be endured. We are meant to thrive. Do whatever you need to do to create the life for which you can be grateful.

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Showing 11 comments
  • APerson

    Thanks for sharing. I find this somewhat interesting. As an INTP, I went through the begginning of my life questioning things already. I stopped believing in religion by age 11 and went through several instances of asking random teachers why they’re doing this and that. So it all seems very different to me.

    Everyone seems to be emphasizing religion but there are lot of other beliefs to change. I’ve changed things about my identity. I changed my views on education and a career. I changed my ideas on how much I really knew about the world. I changed my ideas on what I really wanted in the world. I changed my ideas about my own strengths and weaknesses.

    I don’t know, man. I get used to it, but there are still some days where I fear my own need to question things. Days where I’d get depressed about beliefs that change. Days where I look around and think, why bother? There were a couple instances where it lasted longer than it should be. Days where I question things to paranoia. But these days are a lot better than before. But it goes to show that maybe even the people who question things every single day still have days where they’re hurt from the change. Moments where I deny things over and over. But I always keep going on. Because I want things to be accurate after all and I’m just, simply curious. And even though I know I might end up in something like that again, I just find it well, interesting I guess. There is a lot of danger in not knowing, more than knowing something horrible. Well, I would know that. I see that in myself and a lot of people around me and the world often.

    Well good luck to anyone who might need it.

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for the comment! I think it is important to not hold anything too strongly. We always need to have the freedom to reevaluate: religion, careers, political alliances, relationships, and even our own perceptions of the world. Growth, change, and exploration should be a natural part of life.

  • f e

    Not all religions are created equal…
    Thanks for the eye-opener.

    • Charis Branson

      Definitely not. And not all people view religion in the same way. Some people have found their lives improved with religion.

  • Victoria M

    Thank you, Charis, for your post. Thankfully, I broke the window in my early twenties, just after college (a church college at that!), after being very, very into the religion. I left because despite love and mercy being touted as the core of the religion, I eventually found the rules of the religion made it difficult for me to love and accept myself or anyone else. I don’t regret my upbringing in the church, as I think I learned some important life lessons (not least of which being the lessons found in walking away). It’s the biggest, most difficult decision I ever had to make – walking away from the perspective I knew, the people I knew… telling my mother…. But, I have never, for even one second, ever regretted leaving, or choosing my own path. But that was bound to happen, my being an INFP and all.
    And now, oddly enough, my mother expresses her doubts about the faith. She no longer attends church, none of her children are in the church anymore, neither my father or her current husband are members. She has always been an intensely religious person, but she doubts the church so heavily now, and yet is so fearful of finally, really stepping away for real. I think she fears starting over again so much later in life just as you mentioned in your article (she is in her mid-50s). I see so much pain in her over this, that she’s wasted her life on something that wasnt real. I think she fears that if she finally says it’s not true, then she will declaring how stupid or gullible or weak she was (especially since she was a covert to the church, not raised in it – more self-blame for choosing it in the first place). I say what I can, mostly I just allow her to be able to speak her doubts out loud and not be attacked for them, for her to know that she is loved and supported outside of that system (unlike where I was when I left) and I just hope that she finds her way. Thank you again for your words and experience (my mother also has an interest in reiki and energy work!). I will share your experience with my mother.

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for the comment, Victoria! Having the rest of her family as a support system will be a big help for your mother. I think the biggest thing for me was realizing that I hadn’t wasted that time in the faith. For some reason, there were lessons in that religion that I needed to learn, and that is why I was drawn to it, to begin with. After I had learned all the lessons, though, it was time to move on.

      You said you don’t regret your upbringing. That you learned a lot of lessons that are useful to you as an adult. Maybe it would help to discuss with your mother the things she has learned. Why she was attracted to the religion in the first place. How she has changed and evolved. Then point out how, just as a marital relationship can reach a time of completion and both parties go their separate ways to better lives, her relationship with the religion may be complete too. Other opportunities exist to learn even greater lessons.

      While leaving at 50 seems like a waste of a huge investment of time, how would she feel if she wasted another decade? These are the thoughts that finally sunk in for me and have made a difference in how I view those years spent ‘on the inside.’ I hope it helps. 🙂

  • Ben Page

    I really appreciate you writing about this, Charis. I have so many friends going through a similar experience right now with the religion we were all raised in. I left about a year ago at the age of 40. It’s caused a lot of heartache and pain for some of the people that love me and still believe in the religion. Some of my friends have marriages that are falling apart over their dissaffection with the religious system to one degree or another — or agree to fake belief to keep the marriage and family together. These stories were few and far between 10 years ago but they are happening by the thousands and thousands around Idaho and Utah now (google). It’s heartbreaking to see how the tribe punishes those that start to trust themselves instead of submitting to the authority/corporation. But typically, those that find ways to leave and heal are the winners once they get through it and heal.. The real tragedy are all the folks that remain in the cave staring at the shadows of themselves — buying into this idea they are fundamentally broken and “unworthy” (without value) and must endure to the end of their lives – obedient to other men – before really start living in the next. Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you (and ended up rambling a bit).

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks Ben for sharing! I have a lot of family in Utah and Idaho. My father was raised in your former faith and left it to convert to the faith I ultimately left. It was my research of your belief system that showed me the flaws in mine. I was surprised to read recently that thousands are leaving your former faith. It encourages me that maybe the same is happening with mine, but they are better at hiding it. Or maybe, their time is coming. Bravo for making a stand and doing what you feel is right. I know how hard it was.

  • Chelsea Welch

    What an incredibly inspirational story, Charis! Your strength is so inspiring and I hope to one day be able to let go of the things that are holding me back as well, just as you have so bravely done 🙂 Thank you for the practical suggestions as well! I will definitely be working on implementing some of these in my own journey. I also like that you point out it’s ok to be in an achievement phase and have the healing phase pull you back. I always beat myself up when that happens and thus I end up staying stuck in the healing phase for fear of failure in the achievement phase, but I’m realizing now that this is the natural and only way of going about it. Fantastic and beautiful article!

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for the feedback, Chelsea! Never penalize yourself when healing issues come up. It doesn’t mean you are back-stepping, it means you have encountered an obstacle that is preventing you from leveling up. It’s like a speed bump. Get over it and enjoy a smooth ride until the next one comes along. I think they are there to keep us modest. 😉

      • Chelsea Welch

        Thanks for the encouragement!

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