We are at a place within our recent history that we are having deeper conversations. As we look around on social media, listen to podcasts, and watch various YouTube channels, we may notice deeper content around sensitive topics than we ever have before, including the #MeToo movement, Black Lives Matter, feminism topics, and LGBTQ+ communities. Personally, I am being asked questions about my preferences and lived experience as a member of the First Nation here in North America. These are several examples of these deeper dialogues. We are in exciting times, a time to promote cross-cultural communication and gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and others.
With these larger, deeper conversations, I believe that it is also time to examine and revise our individual belief systems. As I mentioned before, I am now being asked about my preferences and lived experiences as a member of the First Nation in North America. Some of these questions I have never been asked before. As a female Gen-Xer, I am in the early developmental stages of my personal perspective and my contribution to these conversations. I can only imagine that there are others who are experiencing this newness, and in such, having to do the work that I am doing internally—the work of finding my personal voice and positioning within these and other sensitive topics. The time of being simple sheeple has come to an end. Now is the time for our individual authentic voices to be expressed.
What is the first step to opening our mind? It is to recognize that each of us has the right to develop a personal position and perspective that can change, grow, and develop; that it is no longer the mainstream to which we need to adapt. Moreover, there are so many media outlets for differing thoughts and ideas that it is the perfect time to gain further perspectives and learn from others. In the past, the minority voices were drowned out by the mainstream ideals. This only promoted singular thinking that is a reflection of the dominant, agreed-upon views. In the past, we were told to conform to certain ideas that were acceptable to the majority. I will go so far as to say that in the past, we were told not to question, not to ask, and to keep our opinions to ourselves. Now, however, we can decide for ourselves our values, perspectives, and ideals with our internal authentic voice. This promotes a society that is well-rounded, broad, and deeper/more complex than we thought. Here is our opportunity to give ourselves permission to think, to have ideas, and investigate our personal belief systems. You have the right to develop a personal position and perspective. You have the right to change. You have the right to grow.
The second step to opening the mind is to recognize that we all have blind spots and to be curious about that which we don't know. This is natural. It is not foolish to have blind spots—it is foolish to think that we don't. Even in drivers' education, the instructor will speak about blind spots. We only see the things that we are looking to see. Hence, if you are only looking for cars and trucks when you switch lanes, you may miss the motorcycle. There was a whole movement about this understanding. Now, if we can carry that understanding with us into our personal perspectives and views, we will understand that there is so much more to see and understand. I have blind spots in my thoughts, ideas, experiences—concepts that are absent in my worldview. When I realize this, I come to the table with a mind that is more open and curious to learn something that I didn't know before. Curiosity is the second easy step to opening the mind. The art of curiosity is to come to the table without an agenda, except to learn something that you didn't know previously, and doing so with respect for the self and the other in order to embark on new thoughts and ideas together. Approach everything with a sense of curiosity, and you will always gain.
The third step to opening the mind is to be flexible and to ask questions. No one knows everything. No one has it all figured out. If they think that they do? I would suggest that they only have their own agenda figured out. There is so much more to the collective understanding. You have the right to learn something new, every single day. I am asking us to be flexible, mutable. When I was a little girl, it was not cool to be a member of the First Nation (in fact, my experiences were that a red body was seen as more savage, animal-like). Now, I am experiencing a different reality. I do not hold a grudge because perceptions have changed—I am flexible. Be flexible with thoughts. Thoughts are like the air, an unseen force that is ever moving within the mind. Being stagnant within a thought is like being in a room with no doors or windows—hard to freely breathe. Relax the mind and engage in the questions. There was a time that asking a question was deemed as challenging authority. Let's end that idea. Ask questions for clarity, ask questions for the sake of learning, ask questions because you are curious. There is so much more to learn!
If you would like to go to a deeper level with this topic, please check out my book Belief, Being & Beyond: Your Journey to Questioning Ideas, Deconstructing Concepts & Healing from Harmful Belief Systems. Now is the time for society to have these deeper conversations. Now is the time for us to learn from one another. Now is the time to do what comes the most natural to us: to know that we have the right to think for ourselves, to recognize that we all have blind spots, and to be flexible with our thoughts and to be curious with our understandings. These three steps will help us to open our minds to new thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. What do you think?