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How Our Opinions Hinder Growth, Change, and Open-Mindedness


Obstacle in the way

Our experiences, beliefs, and preferences shape our opinions. They are a collection of our thoughts and feelings developed over time. However, when we view our opinions as facts, we close ourselves off from other perspectives and realities that are just as relevant as our own. When we allow ourselves to believe we are right and others are wrong, while we may feel knowledgeable, we hinder our growth and open-mindedness.


Having an opinion is not inherently bad. They shed light on our perception of the world and aid in our self-awareness by revealing our preferences and how our experiences have shaped our understanding of different realities. Unfortunately, we often mistake our opinions as objective observations of the world instead of recognizing them as subjective insights into our perspectives. This is when opinions can become problematic. Instead of seeing them as a helpful guide for our personal journey through life, we use them as models for how the world should be and how others should live their lives.


When assessing our opinions, we must consider certain areas to develop open-mindedness and avoid hindrances.


Awareness:

Being aware is essential to self-discovery, growth, and bringing about positive change. Without it, we will struggle through life or blindly follow the beliefs of others without truly understanding them. Even if we think we are certain about our convictions, we can only fully and deeply understand them through awareness.


Think of awareness as realizing we're wearing colored glasses versus believing we're seeing with naked eyes.


When we lack awareness, we fail to distinguish our opinions from facts. We tend to view our opinions as truth and are convinced we are right. This mindset limits our ability to learn and grow because we are closed off to new experiences and perspectives.

So, how do we develop awareness around our opinions?


  • Reflect on their origin:

Did your opinion form from one or more experiences? Was it influenced by someone else or the media? Has trauma affected your biased narratives (good or bad)?


  • Reflect on what your opinions indicate about your self-perception:

It’s common for us to form opinions that reflect our perceived self-worth and level of security. For instance, if we assume we know what others think or feel about us without them explicitly stating it, this reflects our own beliefs about ourselves rather than their actual thoughts. Similarly, if we hold unfavorable judgments about others that label them as inferior, this is likely a direct reflection of our intrinsic feelings about ourselves, especially if there are feelings of disgust associated with another.


  • Notice your attachment to your opinions:

How firmly do you hold your opinions, even when presented with clear evidence to the contrary? This is one of the biggest obstacles to personal growth and positive change - our tendency to be stubborn and defensively maintain our opinions. But this resistance is rooted in something deeper than just a desire to be right. We often attach our beliefs to our sense of self, so admitting that we're wrong can feel like a personal attack. Consequently, we reject logic and cling to our ego for a sense of security. We'll dive deeper into the concept of attachment and detachment in a bit.


Binary Labels:

The world operates on the principles of binary laws. Everything that exists has an opposite: up and down, light and dark, on and off, wet and dry, hot and cold... However, there are also binary labels created by humans that are not inherent in nature, such as good vs. bad and right vs. wrong—these things are simply the result of cause and effect. The labels, good and bad, come from the feelings elicited from the effect.


I understand that addressing this topic may be controversial, as we all have strong feelings about the injustices and pain in the world. It may seem like there are clear distinctions between good and bad, right and wrong. However, allow me to explain why these binary labels are not absolute.


Although pain and suffering are not to be dismissed, they do not always indicate something is wrong or bad. This labeling is based on our perception of the cause of pain and if we believe it is justified. Our opinions influence these labels. Many people can testify that during times of suffering or hardship, they later realized that it was a blessing in disguise. Another example may be the pain that comes from physical conditioning that is necessary to build muscle or improve performance.


Regardless of one's stance on this matter, having binary views can limit our ability to perceive the nuances of the world. It only provides a restricted perception of cause and effect and limits our understanding of the bigger picture. Our perception of the world is subjective, and our biases can affect how we perceive the world. So, we must learn to be more open-minded and realize that there are multiple perspectives on any issue. Detaching from binary labels can help us see the world more holistically and open us up to new perspectives.


Humility:

Being humble means recognizing that what we know of reality is insignificant compared to what we do not know. No one person can know everything, not even close. To be open-minded, we must be aware of our limitations, realize there is always more to learn and remain open to new perspectives and ideas. Humility allows us to approach new experiences and perspectives with curiosity rather than preconceived notions.


Belief Detachment:

Our beliefs are often so closely tied to our identity that we feel threatened when they are challenged. However, detaching from our beliefs frees us to be more open-minded and accept alternative viewpoints. This requires showing vulnerability, which is undervalued and unfortunately seen by some as a weakness, but this could not be more untrue. One who is confident in themselves without the need for prestige, wealth, and superficial ego boosters is a rarity, and yet, an invaluable and powerful force to be reckoned with—the furthest from a sign of weakness. People often assume that by detaching from beliefs, we are subject to uncontrollable influence, which is not the case. Yes, we are subjecting ourselves to influence, but we still oversee what we choose to believe based on the evidence presented.


The difference is that when we detach from our beliefs, we do not take it as a personal attack when our beliefs are challenged. Instead, we can engage in constructive and respectful conversations. By detaching from our beliefs, we can acknowledge that there is more than one way to understand the world, which can lead to growth and open-mindedness.


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