Part 2: The Impact of Personal Experience

“To learn about the world we must unlearn our distortions of it.”
Mark Gerzon, American Citizen, Global Citizen

Last week we looked at the power of culture in creating our worldview. But that is not the whole story. Our personal experiences also play a major role in the formation of our worldview.

Take some time to think about the significant personal experiences of your life, and how they have shaped your values, attitudes and beliefs. Consider the influence of your parents, siblings, and close friends; consider also major life events, like traveling or living overseas, or suffering a significant illness or loss. Many things, major and minor, traumatic and triumphant, contribute to our personal worldview.

Then, using the same drawing from Exercise 1 from last week’s post, write these personal values and beliefs, and the experiences that helped shape them, inside in the smaller box surrounding your “head.” This symbolizes  your personal worldview.

Then, just as you did last week, take time to reflect on how these experiences, values and beliefs influence how you live your life. Consider meditating on this, and writing. Try to really get in touch with how they influence the way you see and relate to the world.

One method that can help you in this process is to explore how you would answer life’s “Big Questions,” such as the ones below. As you ponder these questions, think about how your worldview may be shaping your response:

  • Is the world fundamentally dangerous, or friendly; loving or indifferent?
  • Is there meaning and purpose to life?
  • Is there meaning and purpose to MY life?
  • Does what I do matter?

Feel free to ask and respond to any other “big questions” that occur to you. Again, the point is to try and make conscious some of our deeper assumptions about the nature of the world and our relationship to it, as influenced by our personal experiences. The next step is to explore a process for how old assumptions can be the soil out of which grows an expanded worldview, and a richer and more vibrant life.

Next: Part 3 – The Power of Filters

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