Hobgoblin Of Little Minds

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said to-day.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance … 

Consistency is a wonderful attribute when it comes to one’s character in life. It allows others to depend on us, to place their trust in our words and actions. After all, it is wonderful to be able to rely on others–to have a clear idea of where they might be, how they might act, or what they might say. However, a foolish consistency–one in which we tend to hold on to our beliefs, thoughts, or ideas simply because we already have them–is a harmful affliction that consumes our character, potential, and growth. Such a tendency keeps us from searching for answers, understanding, and knowledge, since we believe that we already have everything we need. <!–more–> 

There is so much to learn in our lives and so much to be shared with others. Yet when we do not allow ourselves to challenge our beliefs, understandings, and ideas, we lie stagnant in our own murky pool of knowledge, and we have much more potential than that. We were not created to live in such conditions or situations; we were created to learn, to change, and to grow, and as we do so, our beliefs, understandings, and ideas should change with us. What served me when I was 16 is not necessarily all that relevant to me now, and the things I believed from yesterday should no longer be embraced as truths of today.

Perhaps we remain adamant in our belief in someone even after they have clearly violated our trust time and time again. Or maybe we simply continue to fuel an addiction, telling ourselves that it is not harming us, despite the advice from those concerned for our health and the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The fact of the matter is if we never allow ourselves the chance to experience necessary growth and change in our lives, we truly are being foolish.

We are all created to grow into ourselves–that includes spiritually, physically, emotionally, and intellectually; it thereby serves us no good to espouse a “little mind.” Those things, ideas, and beliefs that we hold on to for safety, or because we prefer their company, or even because we simply dislike the idea of change, will in fact become the chains that hold us back from our becoming.

Be open to change in all aspects of your life.

Questions to consider:

What kinds of things or beliefs have you held onto even after finding out they were not what you had thought they were?

Why do we often hold onto stale thoughts, ideas, and beliefs and present them to the world as “truths?”

Why do we generally see contradicting a previous belief or stance as a bad thing? Why do so few people do it?

For further thought:

“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold onto.” ~ Tao Te Ching


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Filed under Commentary, Food For Thought, Living, Opinion

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