Keep An Open Mind
“The world is full of people who have never, since childhood, met an open doorway with an open mind.” — E. B. White
How do you respond to new ideas that conflict with your existing beliefs? Do you attack them or try to disprove them? Or do you remain open to new information and examine whether they are worth keeping? It’s difficult to take on new information nowadays, where fake news and misinformation are prevalent. The scale of information available is staggering, compared to the 80s, for example. Now, we must contend with information via social media, online news, television, podcasts and other mediums, to name a few.
So how do we make sense of new ideas when the rate of information is multiplying? I believe it is a matter of questioning the source of the information and considering whether there are hidden agendas regarding its credibility. Even though the landscape of information is difficult to filter through, ultimately, we must keep an open mind and consider all possibilities. By keeping an open mind, we remain open to a new idea which may benefit us in some way. For example, when we experience resistance to new information, it is an opportunity to expand our awareness. We may not know whether the information is reliable, but we ought to conduct our due diligence and test the idea for ourselves.
So how will you know whether or not new information is credible? First, consult your intuition to gauge whether there could be an ulterior motive being promoted. This includes if the information is from a known source, such as a family member, a friend, or a loved one. Similarly, investigate the information by researching it, not just online. Research involves considering both sides of the story, not just favourable sources. We must look at the negative aspects and read between the lines to see whether people are misconstruing aspects of the information.
Consider All Possibilities
“All things are possible until they are proven impossible.” — Pearl S. Buck
It is clear why many people are non-receptive to new ideas, because the research involved can be time-consuming. It is why people rely on trusted sources for their information, without considering other avenues. Whilst this has favourable benefits, it can have negative advantages because the source may be liable to deceive their target audience; particularly if they recognise a bias towards their viewpoint. This is evident in politics, where people cling to a particular viewpoint espoused by a political government, e.g., left- or right-wing politics. Is this something you’ve experienced? Perhaps you know family members or loved one’s who hold viewpoints leaning towards extremism and are unwilling to consider an alternative view? Naturally, it is unwise to change another person’s point of view because we are communicating; they are wrong and we are right. The best practice is to present them with the ideas and allow them to formulate their own judgement.
For instance, I read about this idea in a book last year during the pandemic. Whilst I cannot recall the title of the book, a physician working in a rural town encountered resistance from those receiving Covid vaccination because of their religious views. As the Coronavirus case numbers increased in the area, he spoke at length to patients who visited his clinic about the benefits and disadvantages of a Covid vaccination. Naturally, there was a lot of hesitation, and he patiently listened to their concerns and answered their questions without forcing his opinions on them. Unsurprisingly, many of his patients received their Covid vaccinations at the time of their appointment and informed others in their community about their experience. In time, the rate of vaccination increased in the community as Covid cases and deaths decreased. What I found surprising about the story was his openness not to question his patient’s beliefs, but answer their concerns without judgement.
So, I’m inviting you to adopt a similar approach to information that challenges your long-held beliefs. You see, being open to new ideas means considering alternate views so you can decide what’s best for you. You don’t have to adopt the idea if you don’t want to, but don’t reject without considering it. In other words, get comfortable being uncomfortable with your resistance to new information. Once you move through the resistance, conduct your research to see whether the information is useful. It might or it might not be, but you won’t know until it is road-tested. Is this making sense? Are you willing to be open-minded and test new ideas instead of rejecting them? In a world where endless possibilities exist, why would you close yourself to endless possibilities? Just because an idea doesn’t resonate with you now, it doesn’t mean it can’t be integrated into your life in the future. Open-mindedness is a wonderful human quality because it allows you to get the best of both worlds. You consider all possibilities instead of limiting yourself to a few.
What You Resist Persists
“What you resist, persists. What you look at disappears. That is, it ceases to have its illusory form. You see it for what it Is. And what Is can always be changed.” — Neale Donald Walsch
Another personal example of the benefits of open-mindedness occurred years ago. If a person was obnoxious or rude, I would dismiss them and show them I disapproved of their behaviour. However, this did little to enhance my personal growth and, in fact, I attracted more toxic people. So, in mirroring their behaviour through my resistance, I noted more obnoxious people showed up in my life. So, I conducted an experiment over a three-month period to test whether my new behaviour could affect those I came into contact with. I vowed to be pleasant and open-minded to obnoxious people, which was challenging. However, I gained a lot of information about myself during this period. I found, if I was indifferent to rude people’s behaviour, the situation didn’t escalate and I stopped attracting these types of people in the future. Expressed differently: what we resist persists because of the energy devoted to it. Our resistance is a sign of attraction, which sends more of the energy until we learn the lesson.
It is not karma or payback, as much is it is mirroring what is taking place at the level of our thoughts and emotions. So, when we change how we look at things, the things we look at will change. It requires changing our beliefs and considering other possibilities. Albert Einstein said it perfectly when he observed: “You cannot solve a problem with the same level of thinking that created it in the first instance.” In other words, we cannot change our circumstances with the same beliefs because they keep the problem alive until we see things differently. Considering this, I invite you to answer the questions in the opening paragraph of the article. To make this exercise applicable to your situation, focus on one particular area of your life where you find it difficult to accept new ideas. It may be related to relationships, health, finances, career or some other area. Try to get a sense of what is holding you back and how you might overcome it. After all, even though you may not want to accept a new idea, it pays to consider it without rejecting it, because open-mindedness is the hallmark of receptivity and transformation.