by Niall Doherty

I can’t find the exact quote, but I recall Steve Pavlina tweeting something along these lines many months ago:

You do realize that it’s impossible for me to continue to grow and evolve while simultaneously staying true to everything I’ve ever written, right?

A friend recently called me out on an old post I wrote which explained why I didn’t require people to subscribe to my mailing list before downloading my manifesto.

Except that now I do.

I’ve written lots of other things on this blog that I’ve since developed different views on. For instance:

Right now I’m reading a book called The Vegetarian Myth. I balked at first when someone1 suggested I read that book, for the same reason I expect many a vegetarian would: Doing so opens up the possibility that our plant-based worldview may not be so fantastic after all. But knowing how extremely important it is to question assumptions and test beliefs, I go ahead and read such books anyway.

The way I see it, if my worldview isn’t shatterproof, then it’s better it get shattered sooner rather than later.

I won’t write much about the aforementioned book here, except to say that it’s already changing my mind about quite a few things. I don’t agree with the author on every point, but I have to admit that she’s raised issues with vegetarianism that I’d never considered before.

Does this mean I’ll soon abandon my vegan ways? Maybe, maybe not. I give myself permission to change my mind if that’s what feels right. I’d rather not be one of those people who sticks to their beliefs even in the face of overwhelmingly contradictory evidence.

How to Change Your Mind

You’d think this would be easy, but it’s not. Everybody considers themselves to be open-minded, but we’re all closed-minded to varying degrees.

Most of us hold our beliefs sacred. Our identities are all wrapped up in them. And so questioning our beliefs becomes akin to questioning our very being. Unsurprisingly, we’re hesitant to do that.

Additionally, we’re afraid of what other people will think of us should we reverse our stance on something. When you’ve been an outspoken ambassador of X for several years, you’re wary of being labeled a hypocrite should you have a sudden revelation that Y is actually the smarter choice. That fear can hold us hostage, causing us to ignore the factual so we can stick with our original beliefs and not have to admit that we were mistaken before.

The solution is to never cling too closely to your beliefs in the first place. Stand apart from them. Realize that they’ll probably change over time.

By all means, live your beliefs to the max and share them with others, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have all the answers. Part of being committed to a life of growth and evolution is accepting that you’ll be proven wrong quite often.

What’s changed?

What beliefs did you once hold strong but later abandon? What caused you to change your mind? What might it take for you to abandon some of your current core beliefs?

Show 1 footnote

  1. That someone being Jana Fadness. Thanks, Jana 🙂