We all like to think that we are autonomous and have some semblance of control over our lives. But, in actuality we do not have as much control over our lives as we think. No matter how old you are, you are carrying a great deal of baggage with us. And we don't even know it. That's the difficult part.
Why does this happen? Because we are so influenced as a child and as we grow up. We believe pretty much everything that people tell us because we don't know any better. By the time we do know better, our beliefs have been so ingrained in us that we don't even recognize that the choices aren't ours.
If we're not open to exploring where our beliefs and thoughts came from, then we're stuck with what was taught us in our growing years. You have to be able to look at your beliefs and say "whoa, maybe that's not true...let me check it out." I think this pattern is how racism and other forms of discrimination are perpetuated. I think we are taught that certain colors, genders, behaviors etc are "good" or "bad" and since the people we respected and relied upon when growing up told us these things, they must be true, right? It's not easy to question things that you have believed for decades. That's hard, and often times it hurts too. Especially when you realize that the people you respected and loved might have been wrong about something. But, in order to grow we have to do it. We have to be willing to experience uncertainty and fear and the unknown in order to grow. If we stay in our little cocoons, then we don't grow or change and life will just continue to pass us by.
When you think about this concept, it's a bit easier to look at the "mass consciousness" and see how that works. So many things have changed throughout the years because people have been willing to question what they were taught. This happens in nutrition and science all the time. When I was growing up, you had to balance your food using the word "starch" - you never hear that now. Then you have the controversy about which type of diet is the best for you. Are eggs good or bad? Is meat good or bad? Should you worry about your cholesterol or not?
Medicine has changed because people have been willing to challenge and question beliefs. That's how infections were discovered and subsequently dealt with. Cancer treatments and theories have changed throughout the years. If people just accepted what they were told, then there would be no research and no improvements in treatments.
How can you examine your beliefs and your thoughts and see what it is you need to (or want to change - maybe you won't want to change things but at least you should examine them)?
Take some time to think about your life and your experiences and even browse the news websites and see what items get your emotions going. If you can read a title of something and not get emotional or charged, then you probably don't have an issue with that concept or belief. But if you hit something that really gets you going, then you might benefit from looking at what you believe and then, more importantly, why. A good example is all the articles and discussions about police brutality. What is it that you believe about the police? About demonstrators? And then answer where you got those ideas?
Do the same about wars and about weight and about publicity or models or actors. Or anything you see around you. What do you think about various races or even gender identity? Do "Gay Pride" parades bother you or what? Go to TED.com and look at the titles of the presentations. Do they generate any emotions? What do you think about athletes making so much money? Actors making so much money? What does that tell you about your beliefs about wealth? You have to go further than just 'that makes me mad" - what is it about that thing that does make you mad? Is it that you feel you've worked very hard all your life and you "deserve" to make more money and yet these athletes just run around a court or a field and make more money than "they're worth"? Are these the thoughts that go through your head? Write them down as they come. Examine them later. But do examine them!
Take a few days to start this process and see what happens. Any time you react to anything, you know there is a belief somewhere in there.