What would it take to suspend your belief in what you know for sure to be able to see for yourself whether other ways of thinking are true as well? In what ways have you been able to change your beliefs?
The Impairment of a Closed Mind
Imagine a land with 2 territories: one only has a Day-Sky where the sun plays peek-a-boo with the clouds. The second territory has only a Night-Sky where the moon and stars are in a field of darkness all the time. Your territory, Day-Sky, is all you know.
One day a stranger visits your territory and spends some time with you. He tells you of another territory where the sky is dark and filled with bright pinpricks of light called stars and a circular moon that repeatedly changes its shape. You laugh! Ridiculous, you say. I know what is in the sky. I see it every day. None of the wise ones I’ve been around all my life have spoken of this land of the Night-Sky. None of our books describe such a place. I don’t believe you.
“Come with me and I’ll show you,” says the visitor.
“Why would I waste my time?” you ask. “Seeing is believing. I know what is true. Just look up. There’s the sky.”
My guess is that someone who has spent her life in the Night-Sky territory would have the same reaction.
The problem is that we live in a world of many different and opposing beliefs but in our minds we think our beliefs are the only truth. And as in the example above, we are right and those whose beliefs are different are wrong. Instead of acknowledging the others right to their beliefs, some of us condemn the other and fail to broaden our view of the world.
I’ve come across many examples of people who have recently and dramatically changed their beliefs and this is how they did it, they:
- questioned whether they were conditioned by their teachers and the limited exposure they’d had to only one ideology
- acknowledged that they might learn something of value by examining their beliefs and where they came from
- became willing to discover the others’ point of view in depth and opened their mind
- were prepared with a set of questions that would help them understand the basis for their beliefs and the beliefs of others
- used critical thinking skills to evaluate what they learned
How would our world be different if everyone realized the truth of this quote attributed to Thomas Dewar and others: “The mind is like a parachute, it only works when it’s open”?
Here are a couple of examples from the Internet of people who have changed their beliefs:
Muslim supports Israel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SL8hgPuSgVQ
Why I left white nationalism http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/26/opinion/sunday/why-i-left-white-nationalism.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share
Dr. Barbara Plasker is a Certified Professional Coach, founder of It’s Never Too Late to Bloom! and the author of Simple Ways to Transform Your Life: Lessons Learned by a Late Bloomer. With over 40 years of experience teaching and counseling well over a thousand people one on one, Dr. Barbara helps her clients rediscover their life purpose and live the life they were meant to live.