The 4 Isms That Ruin Your Life

Imagine you could replace all your attitudes with awareness and all your beliefs with just being. Ambition, disappointment, confidence, desire, frustration, pride, it all goes out the window. Instead, you’re present. A curious observer, who refrains from judgement.

Though we can never quite reach it, striving towards this state is what mindfulness is about. Most detrimental to this struggle is a set of attitudes and beliefs so powerful, we’ve bundled them up and given them their own vocabulary: ideologies. An ideology is any set of rules and guidelines within you can think and make decisions without ever feeling uncomfortable. They’re vetted and have a black and white answer for any question.

One way you can recognize ideologies is to try and describe whatever situation you’re faced with with a word that ends in -ism. Sexism. Racism. Egoism. Heroism. Baptism. Realism. Fascism. Optimism. Altruism. Modernism. Nihilism. Capitalism. Individualism. The list is endless.

Whenever you can pin an -ism to an event, chances are many of the involved parties view it only through one lens, including you. That’s the opposite of observation. Poor judgement. But the most dangerous -isms are those we practice in our relationships with others.

Here’s a simple story to show you the four worst -isms I know.

Boy meets girl. They fall in love. Girl can’t hold it back any longer.


Girl: “I love you.”

Boy: “How much?”


Girl: “I love you.”

Boy: “Do you?”


Girl: “I love you.”

Boy: “Why would you say that?”


Girl: “I love you.”

Boy: “And what’s the good news?”

Faced with all these -isms, what does the keen observer do? Life isn’t a TV show, so even the most detached will eventually have to make judgement calls. Especially when it comes to people. But I think there’s something more. An option that pierces right through ideology, because it’s suggested only by your well-informed gut: trust.


Girl: “I love you.”

Boy: “I love you too.”

Trust is the opposite of all -isms. When life unfolds, trust doesn’t need a follow-up question. Trust requires a leap of faith. A leap you’ll only take if you feel that right now, you can make it across. No ideology can help you determine if you’re ready for that. Only your history of calm observation can.

That’s why trust doesn’t end in -ism. Because ultimately, it would never ruin your life.

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