“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”- George Bernard Shaw
We are all occasionally prisoners of pre-conceived notions (sometimes mistakenly called knowledge) – things that have found their way into our minds from somewhere and stuck there. In extreme cases, when applied to people, these “truths” result in bigotry. When applied to our view of the world and what we might accomplish, sometimes the limits that we place on ourselves, because we believe that we can’t do something, are the only things holding us back.
Do you find that you have immediate reactions to things or people that leap out of your mind when you encounter them? Why? What or who put those notions there? When was the last time that you re-examined them to see if they are really true or just fears or prejudices?
Perhaps it would be time well spent to ponder on occasion why you don’t do certain things, go to certain places or associate with certain types of people. What are you missing out on because of those things in your mind that hold you back from those experiences? Is it time to try to change your mind?
One of the greatest sources of fear in or lives is a lack of knowledge. We sometimes fear what we don’t understand or can’t find a way to relate to something that we already know. We fear or are repulsed by a person who dresses strangely (at least by our standards) or who has a hair style or color that we find somehow odd. This is a particularly strong reaction when dealing with cross-cultural norms. Things that are quite normal in one culture may be totally alien or even offensive in another culture. For instance, the Western-culture habit of men slathering on after shaves or body scent is considered quite offensive in many Middle-Eastern cultures, where such scents are reserved for females.
I think the secret to changing your mind is to first open it to the possibility of change. One must first admit that everything rattling around in our heads is not necessarily true or of value, just because it is there. Many things probably got there before we were old enough and wise enough to add any thought to whether it was true. Psychologists and psychiatrists are always pointing back to the things that we learned as children and a source of today’s prejudices, fears, psychoses and other issues. So, every now and then, like cleaning out a dusty attic, we need to open our minds and toss out some of that “knowledge” that has been limiting us all of our lives.
What old knowledge do you need to toss out or re-examine in order to allow yourself to grow? Open your mind and allow the fresh air of change in today. You’ll be a better person for it.