By Claire Gordon • 07 January 2022 • 12:11
MY latest thought of the week has been about letting people know it’s ok to change their minds.
Life is not black and white, it’s more like a million shades of grey and thinking in black and white terms, without letting yourself grow and adapt, helps no one except people who gain things from situations having no nuance. Like I have said before, it is only people who do not have your best interests at heart that will not allow you to change your mind once you have formed an opinion on something.
Or the other strand to this, allowing yourself to not have an opinion on something at all. In this world of in-your-face information 24/7, it sometimes feels like you must know something about everything and have formed a staunch and unwavering opinion about it too. This isn’t true.
A phrase I wish was used more often is “I don’t know enough about that subject to have made a suitably informed opinion about it.” This isn’t a sign of weakness or stupidity, more a sign of maturity that shows you would like to have enough knowledge around something before stepping into the breach! This way of thinking is incredibly helpful when it comes to areas of life that don’t affect you in the same way as it does the people who are talking about it. In these cases, it really does pay to listen.
If you do hold a strong opinion about something, great. The next question to ask is “If I was presented with more information about this subject, would my opinion change?”
This begins to open your mind to the possibility of growth and flexibility. There are some things to which the answer will be an absolute no. You will sit and think about any possible snippets of information that could come in about this subject and know that you will remain of the same mind. At least you have asked the first question. What follows is the kicker.
The next and final step is to look at your strongly held opinion and ask: “Am I only so firm in my thoughts about this because I feel like I would be judged if I changed my mind?”
Science author Adam Grant said: “The hallmark of an open mind: not letting your ideas become your identity. If you define yourself by your opinions, questioning them is a threat to your integrity. If you see yourself as a curious person or a lifelong learner, changing your mind is a moment of growth.”
For some, their strongly held opinions are a cage. If you, like Katie Hopkins, for example, have created a brand for yourself by saying only the very strongest and sometimes offensive opinions, then reversing out of those opinions doesn’t feel like an option you can take, even if you do change your mind.
Sometimes it takes more courage to admit you’ve learnt more than it does to ‘stand by your convictions’.
Claire Gordon’s opinions are her own and are not necessarily representative of those of the publishers, advertisers or sponsors.
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An ex-union representative, Claire Gordon's philosophical views on all things human rights-based is a refreshing take on issues facing the world today.
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