By Kaitlyn Dunagan

Deconstructing your worldview feels a lot like experiencing Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief. If your worldview has been the same since childhood or your entire family holds to the same belief system, changing your epistemology can be intimidating. Cognitive dissonance will be a tempting endeavor but you begin to realize you cannot lie to yourself any longer. You do not believe what you used to. Which is terrifying because for so long you thought you were right and now you have found a new kind of “right.” You begin to deconstruct your belief system and it is painful.

You begin to weigh your options. You can make deconstruction a long process, like a slow drip of water at the kitchen sink or as quick as ripping off a Band-Aid. It doesn’t matter, both experiences are painful to endure. To let you know you are not alone and explain this process (in my unprofessional opinion), here are the 9 Not-So-Easy Stages Of Deconstructing Your Worldview:

First, keep in mind that these stages may repeat throughout your lifetime and you do not necessarily need to deconstruct your entire worldview in order for them to occur.

Stage One: The Incident.

An eye-opening class, the death of a loved one, a betrayal of a friend — whatever it may be…it all starts with you asking the question, “why?”

Stage Two: Denial.

This is the moment where you do not want to believe your thoughts are transforming. You are sitting at a dinner party and someone brings up a heated topic. Everyone nods their head and agrees but you do not, but you remember that you used to. Someone asks you what you think and you cannot muster up the very words you know will cause controversy. You reluctantly agree or smile in silence.

Stage Three: Anger.

Your insides feel like they are bursting. The question, “why” resurfaces. Except in this case, it lacks an innocent curiosity and becomes belligerent. Knowing the answers becomes more important than your inner peace. You begin to pick and prod your ideology to pieces. You become angry not only at yourself but at others in your life. You blame your environment and push away those you once loved without a thought. You may even impulsively choose a new worldview to replace the void of your old one.

Stage Four: Bargaining.

To keep the pain you are experiencing at bay, you bargain. You may ask your chosen deity or the empty space in the sky to take the pain away. You may even consider regressing to your old ways. If it would help put out the fire inside you, you would do it. But you know regression isn’t the answer.

Stage Five: Depression.

The loss of your belief system begins to sink in and you feel empty inside. You feel isolated and like out of the 7 billion people in the world, no one has ever lost their faith. No one has the thoughts you are having and if they knew what you were thinking, they would abandon you. And even if there was someone out there that had lost their faith, they are far from you and have already reassembled themselves. They’re okay now and you’re not.

Stage Six: Acceptance.

For a brief moment in time—days, months, years—you feel content with your thoughts. You become okay with not knowing all the answers. You become okay with controlling only what you know you can control. You research, you talk your thoughts out with a mentor, you begin to reconstruct.

Stage Seven: Reconstruction.

Your new worldview may be half-constructed but you are in the process of rebuilding it and in the process of rebuilding your worldview, you feel as if you are rebuilding yourself.

Stage Eight: Learning To Adjust.

New thoughts may come with new behaviors. Behaviors that your peers and family members may not agree with. Do what you need to do in order to be healthy during this time. Stay away from those who will try to confuse or convert you to their chosen ideology, and remain close to people who love you, even if what you believe does not line up with what they believe. Remember, you do not want to hurt others as much as you do not want them to hurt you.

Stage Nine: Integration.

You have figured out how your new worldview, no matter how newly formed, fits into your life. You begin to walk confidently in it. You are no longer afraid of what people will think because you realize that the only person’s opinion that matters at the end of the day, is your own.

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