The definition of being open-minded is “the quality of being willing to consider ideas and opinions that are new or different from your own.”
Most of us consider ourselves to be open-minded, but our words and actions paint a completely different picture. The “tell” is in how steadfast we are in defending our beliefs and opinions all the while shutting others out in any given moment.
I recently had a conversation with a person whose opinion on a subject was totally the opposite of mine. When we were having our conversation, I saw something come up in my mind that wanted to defend its identified beliefs, but a right part of me wanted instead to listen to the other person in what they were saying and why they felt the way they felt.
I could see from that experience that neither of us were right and neither of us were wrong. We each simply believed what we believed. Neither of us could prove without a shadow of a doubt that our opinion was the right one – we couldn’t be 100% certain. We simply had ideas and opinions that were held as true for ourselves.
It was such a freeing experience for me, because I left the conversation without my energy being drained in trying to prove myself right and the other person wrong.
It made me wonder how different this world might be if we were more open-minded with others that way. How many people do you know whose marriages or relationships with their children ended because of insistence on being right about something? How many people do you know whose friendships have parted because of insistence on making someone wrong about something?
Have you ever had the experience where you were shown how wrong you were about someone, where your mind fed you a whole story about them and then come to find out it was an absolute untruth? When that happens, a part of us typically “brushes it off” with a “Well, I guess I was wrong this time – move on.”
We rarely stand in the pain of the shock of that moment – to really feel the remorse in how we do harm (to ourselves and others) by listening to that wrong part of ourselves.
Part of being open-minded is seeing and recognizing that the mind is speaking to us in each and every moment. That is taking place in each and every human being in each and every moment. As such, it is impossible to know exactly what mind dialogue another person is identifying with in the moment.
We must learn to be open, present with each other, when we have conversations with them, or the past, close-minded nature, will be there to speak on our behalf. It will be there to “pre-judge” the other based on the past content of itself.
J. Krishnamurti states it perfectly here:
“You insulted or flattered me. That has left a mark on my mind, an image of you who have insulted or flattered. I meet you the next day and that image projects and interferes in the observation of you now. You might have changed, and I come with memory and meet you with that image of that insult, so there is a contradiction. If I can meet you without that insult with its memories, I meet you afresh. In that, there is no contradiction. I approach you with a mind freed from yesterday.”
I can’t help but wonder what world our children could live in understanding this information. There certainly would be less blame in their lives directed at others. With less blame, there would be more acceptance not only of others, but of unwanted moments that appear to be “caused” by others, because there would be an understanding that there’s more than meets the eye.
And there IS more than meets the eye, but we have to work to be open-minded to see that. We must be willing to wait and see what is working to reveal itself about ourselves in each and every moment. Thus far, we have only known to be close-minded, resistant to most moments, particularly unwanted ones where our beliefs and opinions are challenged. How has that worked for us? If we are honest with ourselves, it hasn’t.
If we aren’t honest with ourselves, there is no hope for anything new, for any change in our nature. Honesty is an integral part of being open-minded. What a great gift we could give our children if we could be the living example for them of being an open-minded individual.
After all, different views make the world a colorful place. What part of us wants to continue to live in a world that has only “tunnel” vision? What makes this world uncolorful, dark, is when we don’t allow others the space to be who they are and believe what they believe.
We should learn to want the whole of life, not just a simple, close-minded part of it.
Image courtesy of: Alexandra Koch on Pixabay
Exercise for the Week: Go out of your comfort zone and speak to someone who you typically have opposite views with. See if you can truly listen to them “openly”. It’s ok if you aren’t able to do that… just see that you aren’t able. Don’t judge yourself for it. Go into the conversation with a wish to listen and understand them.