Being Aware of Our Belief Grids

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dark blue cover of 24 patterns of wisdom book with title in yellow

Self-awareness and empathy are two vitally important aspects of being an effective change agent.

And that’s why a new book just released by architect and philosopher Anthony Lawlor, 24 Patterns of Wisdom: navigating the challenges and awakenings of the human journey (available from Ink Money Press), will be of great value to changemakers.

24 Patterns expresses a range of concepts associated with the human psyche in a beautiful and succinct way, offering a sequence of 24 ‘visual diagrams of knowledge for living’ distilled from wisdom accumulated by humankind over the course of centuries.

These symbols are what the author calls ‘the archetypes of human experience’. Each diagram is explained in both a theoretical sense, and each is also accompanied by a practical example of the concept.

greyscale image of a grid, symbol of how we see the world through our 'grid'

Belief Grid – image (c) Anthony Lawlor, reproduced with permission

The ‘Belief Grid’ is one of the 24 images, and is of particular relevance to those undertaking change work and grappling with diverse value sets:

Between you and the world hovers your Belief Grid. It’s the veil of concepts through which you locate and define people, places and events…

Each of us has a Belief Grid. Our minds are Belief Grid-making machines. Encounters with each other are mostly encounters between our Belief Grids. My framework of concepts I hold to be true crosses paths with your framework of concepts you hold to be true. Instead of connecting human to human, one framework tries to press the other framework into agreeing with it. You can see this everywhere. The stalemates in congress are standoffs between Belief Grids. Clashes between people, organizations and countries are battles between Belief Grids.

In these conflicts, our Belief Grids become solid. They obscure the lives they are trying to serve and protect. When we make our Belief Grids more important than people and the earth, we tyrannize each other and the world. We attempt to suppress life’s revitalizing energy and wisdom and make it rigidly conform to self-centered interests. The result is isolation, depression, struggle and worse. If, on the other hand, we see our Beliefs Grids for what they are—devices our minds create to navigate the world—we can use them as tools for exploring life and fostering communication and understanding.

If we are not self-aware, or aware of and able to acknowledge others’ ‘Belief Grids’ (even if we don’t agree with them), it is all too easy to become bogged in conflict and trying to convince other people that we are right – with the implied inference that they must therefore be wrong. Sometimes even when we are aware of the existence of Belief Grids, in the heat of debate, we can still fall into the trap of forgetting they are there.

Can you recall an occasion when your Belief Grid was impacted? How did you feel, and how did you respond?

How have you ensured your own communication approaches acknowledge/respond to others’ Belief Grids?

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  1. […] more on patterns, see Anthony Lawlor’s book, 24 Patterns of Wisdom. Have you ever been to a truly memorable meeting or gathering that transformed you in some […]

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