Are you married to an Idea?

So many things (shorthand, common use, in this case meaning ideas) to think about…and perhaps it makes sense to start with our relationship to ideas and to things.

We live in and among many paradoxes…and recognize only a few of them, in part because they reside and emerge out of our culture: they are the water we, like fish, swim in it.

Ideas are verbal things. What I am writing right now is the result of my having collected a variety of them over the years.
It would be fair to say this work is an exhibition of that collection, or at least some of it. The ones left out don’t fit the theme.

If these words and phrases could be transformed into glorious paintings they might hang in a gallery, or at least, in my living room. Perhaps that is what visual artists are doing when they paint. Are they transforming their experiences in life beyond any wordy attempt at explaining and instead, demonstrating the results of those experiences with paint and canvass?

And are composers doing the same kind of thing? Are they too, transforming their experiences into music to let the world hear their life?

And in the artistic doing of this, of course they are deepening the experiences, and making new ones out of the old. In that sense, isn’t life a continual transformative experience, one that we recognize only when a particular experience feels overwhelming?

But ideas expressed verbally are different. They summon us beyond themselves into what becomes a definitional attachment.

Like the things we put in our homes and on our bodies, we could after a time discard them. But since we bungled our behavior in that old ancient Garden of Paradise by opening our minds to the abstractions language offers us, and initially embraced the Ideas of Good and Evil, we can no longer walk naked with no clothes on our bodies, and no ideas in our heads.

That is the paradox: in order to live in the world as human beings, we need things, and devote out lives to getting and using them; and we also need ideas to guide us in the “best” way to get those things and to make sense of our experiences in living.

Functionally, by reading what I have just written, whether you believe it or not, you have invited it to join the rest of the ideas in your mind, and you will have to make a mental adjustment over time to discard it, or re-shape it to fit into one of the many themes that guide your behavior. You cannot undo the experience, you can not avoid thinking and feeling in response it.

Forgetting about it removes it only from your conscious deliberations. Pick a metaphor that seems to fit: you are ingesting something that will make you healthier, or something that will make you sick. Or, perhaps something, like a toy or a game to amuse yourself with.

Why do I say this? One source that motivates that statement is the current neurolinguistic research that says when we encounter ideas that are in opposition to what we believe our tendency is to defend against them, and to “buckle down” on what we think, and to hold on to those ideas even more strongly than before.

Why do we do this? because we have learned to identify ourselves with what we think. We have married our ideas, and merged them into our lives to give us meaning and direction. And to confirm ourselves in our identity.

About Stanley S. Smith

Psychodramatist,teacher, trainer, and life coach specializing in situational change. My professional biography is available at
This entry was posted in Autobiography, Belief Systems, growth and development, Ideas, Psychology, Self-understanding and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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