A short time ago, I ran into an old friend who was very angry. He ranted about other cultures and was even happy to cut me off from his circle of relationships because I would not join him in his worldview of certain situations.
It is not the first time I have encountered this lately and am concerned at what I know is the mis-information out there and the fact that people are riled up over things they have no control over with often no first hand evidence of any of it.
In this article today, I just want to remind us all, myself included, that some times we need to stop and take responsibility for our lives. This is the time to seek truth and humbly admit our own shortcomings, and then move on.
There are now studies that show that our brains build neuro pathways and actually physically change as we re-enforce emotions and express great passion about different things.
The great news with the on-going discoveries in neuro-plasticity is that we can all change! This leads to the belief that others can change also. One way I change my way of thinking is through actions that support what I want to believe and go directly against those things that mess with my head.
We as humans, often seek out things that re-enforce our beliefs and eventually come to interpret new evidence as confirmation of our theories. This is known as a ‘Confirmation Bias’ and can lead to extremist viewpoints and ultimately bad actions.
Many of our methods of receiving news are involved in what is called ‘cultural hegemony’ where by a world-view is put across as ‘common sense’ or an ‘everyone knows that’ type of idea. From politics to fashion to food science we are being fed a constant stream of ideas backed by agendas that seek advantage by swaying us one way into groups to exclude what is neurologically described as our ‘tribe’ and ‘others’.
I recommend that we decide to adopt an open minded approach to others, conceding that no one group or individual is faultless and that we will seek proof of statements made about others.
An excellent actionable example of this is go out of my way to meet up with people who fit the ‘other’ criteria and assist them in some way.
In her TED talk, ‘Take the other to lunch’, US Democratic Elizabeth Lesser talks about how she deliberately takes people she disagrees with out to lunch. She just listens to their ideas and asks them questions. She talks about the amazing responses she gets and how her view of her advisories changes when all the pre-judgement and deception is removed.
She gets to meet the real thinking, feeling person behind the reputation.
In this world that seems to be becoming more and more polarised and hardened in position, it is important that we remain mentally pliable and at least open to alternative points of view.
Even if we do not agree with them at all, it is important to be continually challenged so as to refine and bring reality to our own opinions, which leads to wisdom.
Abraham Lincoln was famous for positioning people around him who opposed his views. He believed it was the best way to get wisdom for the hard decisions he would have to make.
Remember that being different is your biggest asset and you don’t have to be like everyone else.
About the Author:
Dave is an Adult Educator, Speaker and Youth leader living in Western Sydney, Australia where he teaches the Electrical Trades at the Western Sydney Institute. He has Diplomas in Business and Training, a Bachelors Degree in Adult Education, Vocational and Workplace Training and a Masters of Education with a major in Career Development. He has lived with Tourette’s Syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety Disorders since an early age. He is married with 6 children. He is a passionate coach and mentor to young people especially in the vocational guidance and career development areas. Dave is a professional member of the Career Development Association of Australia and has authored a course on Living with Tourette’s which you can study and purchase online through his website – www.davebrebner.com.