“I was exhilarated by the new realization that I could change the character of my life by changing my beliefs. I was instantly energized because I realized that there was a science-based path that would take me from my job as a perennial ‘victim’ to my new position as ‘co-creator’ of my destiny.” — Bruce H. Lipton, “The Biology of Belief”
In his book “The Biology of Belief,” Bruce Lipton puts forth scientific evidence that our beliefs inform and alter the cells in our body, in essence controlling our biology and influencing our experience. The process of altering beliefs and therefore altering our biology and our experience is not a simple task. This is particularly true in a culture that conditions us from birth through powerful messages facilitated by parents, friends and media.
Given that external influences are ever more powerful and present in our lives than at any other time in the history of man, there is a far greater opportunity for our beliefs to develop without being representational of our authentic self. But a new book may provide a path to freedom from our rigid and potentially self-limiting beliefs and a greater access to our authentic self.
“The Five Levels of Attachment” by don Miguel Ruiz Jr. is a very readable book exploring the ways that we attach ourselves in an unhealthy manner to beliefs and the world. He uses the game of soccer to illustrate the different levels of attachment we have with our world. To help give some local flavor to concept, let’s use college basketball as our focal point for discussion of the different levels of attachment.
Level One: The Authentic Self
You like the game of basketball and simply like to watch, and it really doesn’t matter who is playing. You have no concerns about the outcome. You watch, you enjoy the game, and when it is over you go about your business. You experience joy without conditions.
Level Two: Preference
Much like level one, you like the game, but this time you find yourself choosing one side to root for. Maybe it is the underdog or a certain color uniform that attracts you. Now you are exhibiting a preference. You still enjoy the game and regardless of the outcome you have no personal attachment to it. You can enjoy the ebbs and flows of the game and at the end let go.
Level Three: Identity
This time you are committed to a favorite team; let’s say the Jayhawks. When you see the Jayhawk symbol, you feel an emotional charge. You like watching other games with other teams, but watching the Jayhawks is beyond comparison. You are happy when the team wins and disappointed when it loses. You can sit with others who are not Jayhawks fans, talk basketball, expound on the greatness of your team, but also listen to others talk about their team. However, you are beginning to let the outcome of a Jayhawk game impact you emotionally. They lose and you may have a bad day at work or feel sad or snarly. At this level you are letting the attachment impact your life.
Level Four: Internalization
Now the Jayhawks have become part of your identity. How you feel about yourself becomes entwined in the outcome of a basketball game or season. You get angry with the players or the coach for not doing what was necessary to win. You blame the refs, you get angry at the fans of the other team and may even confront them, yelling at them (but at this level not fighting). On the other hand, victory brings you a sense of greater self-esteem. You may experience an enhanced sense of power after victories. Your life and your attachment to your team have become blurred. You may even make choices about friends or where you shop, live and go to school based on their relationship to your team.
Level Five: Fanaticism
You worship the Jayhawks and everything about them. Fans of opposing teams are the enemy. You are a committed fan 365 days a year. You expect that your family and friends will be fans of your team too, and your life is significantly impacted when they win or lose. Violent acts and other impulsive behaviors after sporting events are typically conducted by individuals at this level of attachment to their team. There is no space between the fanatic and the team. The authentic self is lost.
Although basketball is used to illustrate the five levels of attachment, the most important thing is to see how the levels play out in areas of your own life. It is important to understand how you have become attached to beliefs that may very well keep you from experiencing life authentically.
We highly recommend Ruiz’s book.
“We can control our lives by controlling our perceptions.” — Lipton