How can I be open minded

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Did we define it properly?

Before I proceed it is very important to define what open minded means accurately.
The reason it has to be defined correctly is because some people already think they are open minded while behaving completely the opposite and others think it’s the behavior of the very liberal people who are not conservative.

Being open minded though is essential for any human being, and the reason for this is that your mind tends to play so many tricks on you for many reasons that we will explore in this article.

Let’s have a closer look at how we think

As human beings, by nature we tend to search for information that confirm our view of the world and ignore what doesn’t fit. When I said by nature this meant that not all of us are like this, but the people who still haven’t trained themselves to do otherwise tend to fall into this thinking trap. (see also How people twist the facts to support their beliefs)

Why does this happen?
In order to make sense of the world around us we tend to filter new information according to the information we already have in our minds. We see the world through the glasses of the values, beliefs and information we have. (See Why do we see the world differently)

This is why In the Solid Self confidence program, I explain to people that whatever you believe, you will continue to seek more information on to believe even more and disregard the rest.

If you believe you are clumsy, for example, you will continue to filter all your actions and see only the moments when you were acting clumsy and disregard all the other moments that you behaved very rationally. The more you believe it, the more you’ll act it of course. (see also How to believe in yourself)

Getting back to our mind filters, here are a few examples of what we could do without realizing, if we don’t concentrate on being careful:

  • Blindness: A business owner who hires a person who thinks is professional because he came from a very renowned multinational company, doesn’t notice his incompetence and that everyone else is doing his work for him because he is so impressed that he turns up everyday right on time.
  • Deletion: A sports fan who believes his team is the best and tends to remember the matches they won and disregard the embarrassing defeats to their opponents.
  • Bias: A supporter of a political figure or party tends to remember all the good things they’ve done and give reasoning to the clearly wrong.

What is open minded?

What we have just had a closer look into is what psychologists call confirmation bias.
Now that we’ve got into more details on how our thinking works, it is not just important to be watching our confirmation bias to be fair to employees, or other sports teams or our country, it is important for our own well-being.

If we are not careful we will tend to fall into very popular traps that will harm us personally:

  • 1)Lowering your self esteem: First we’ll fall into the trap of lowering our own self esteem where we’ll start collecting more and more information everyday about all the things we believe are bad about us without stopping to analyze it a bit better and see a clearer picture. I am not saying you don’t have flaws. What I am saying is that a lot of the time you are focusing on just one area and not putting the whole picture together. This could mean that a lot of the time you could actually be wrong.
  • 2)Seeing a different reality Second you will most of the time end up with an unclear and distorted picture of your own reality. This will lead to very bad decisions in your life, many times being very unfair even if you value being fair and missing out of many of the right opportunities that could make you live a happier and healthier life.

So what is open minded?
It is the ability to listen to other information even if you initially feel like you want to resist it and be patient enough to actually analyze it frankly.

Sounds good, how do I apply this easily?

It is actually easier than you think if you truly want to apply it for your own good.
Surprisingly it actually starts with your emotions and not with your thinking. The next time you start listening to something you feel you won’t like tell yourself “calm down, let’s see if this makes sense”.

Don’t attach it to your ego, because we can all fall into this trap where we need to prove that we were right. Instead challenge yourself to look at it logically from all sides, so that you internally know and understand what makes sense.

2knowmyself is not a complicated medical website nor a boring online encyclopedia but rather a place where you will find simple, to the point and effective information that is backed by psychology and presented in a simple way that you can understand and apply. If you think that this is some kind of marketing hype then see what other visitors say about 2knowmyself.

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