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How to Embrace Changing Your Mind

If you were to ask me how to describe myself, there’s a good chance I’d use the word opinionated. In fact, ask my husband, and he’d probably say it’s more than that…I’m downright stubborn and pig-headed at times.

There are certain parts of my life that will continue to remain that way. I like to think I stand up for my values, my family and what’s right. (At least what’s right according to my values.)

There are times when taking a firm stance is justified and no amount of outside information is likely to influence that position.

But, if I’m being honest with myself (and with you, dear reader) I have to admit that there have been plenty of times when I thought I knew my position on something and at some point I realized, I now felt differently about it.

I changed my mind.

For example, take the concept of a hanger dog. Have you heard of it?

It’s an article of clothing that you see on a hanger in a clothing store and you immediately dismiss it because it looks terrible…on the hanger.

Lo and behold, once you put a form (your body) into that garment, it might actually surprise you how much you like it. You may even take it home with you.

You change your mind.

Take the hit TV show The Walking Dead.

I had friends that were crazy for this show and I totally, without equivocation, did not get it. It made no sense to me. Why are my grown friends watching a show about the zombie apocalypse? It’s disgusting. It’s violent. It’s gory.

Then, I decided to see what all the “fuss” was about.

After watching only a few episodes, the writing style and intricacy of the story-lines captivated my attention so much that I’ve officially become a “Dead Head”.

I changed my mind.

These are simple examples. It’s doubtful we’ll feel any real shame or guilt about changing our minds about clothes or mindless TV shows.

But what if we change our minds about what we’re doing for work? What if we change our minds about who we choose as friends? What if we change our minds about our politics? Religion? Values?

Successful, smart people are decisive. They’re confident. They know what they want and they get after it.

They’re not flighty or lacking in confidence and they certainly don’t flip-flop their opinions.

Smart people don’t change their minds so easily.

This might be what we tell ourselves but it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Call it being open-minded, changing your mind or having a change of heart, being willing to embrace these shifts in perspective is a desirable trait in a human being.

There are really two ways these changes come about.

We get more (or different or new) information.

This probably seems evident but really, it’s not. This is why smart people are open to changing their perspective on things, because they realize that at any given point, new information might be presented to them that helps them view the situation differently.

Sometimes, the new information we receive is in the form of hard data. Facts that cannot be disputed with. When the information is factual in nature, it’s easy to justify the change in our minds.

More often though, the new information is offered up in the form of personal experience. We have an emotional shift involving that thing and it causes us to question if we really feel the same way we initially did.

This can happen easily with people.

Let’s say you just started a new job. As your boss takes you around and makes introductions to people, he gives you a friendly warning about Bob, the head guy in purchasing. He tells you that Bob is kind of difficult, wants perfect detail on every order form and won’t hesitate to make your life harder if you don’t comply.

You now have a baseline opinion about Bob.

Eventually, you get asked to serve on a work committee with Bob. You dread working with him based on what you “know”.

After several meetings, you find yourself enjoying working with Bob. He’s funny and while yes, he has great attention to detail, you appreciate his commitment to keeping everyone on task.

You realize you actually like Bob. Your opinion has changed.

This may sound like an extreme example but it happens all the time.

Every opinion we have is based on something. Information we received from others or unspoken rules we took as truth. We form opinions about people, places and ideas based on this information.

We need to be willing to receive new information, either from outside sources or from our own experiences. When we take that information and filter it through our own mindset, values and attitude, we may find that our opinions could use a revamp.

We change.

This is different from receiving new information because it’s not about learning more about the thing our opinion is about, it’s about being a different person when considering that same thing.

As our lives change, we change.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to us, but for some reason many people I know (myself included) are holding ourselves to internal contracts we made with ourselves along the way. We should always question their validity, especially if they were made long ago.

When I was first approached by my friend, Sarah (someone I genuinely love and trust) about becoming a part of Rodan + Fields, which is a skincare company in the social commerce channel, I said no. I had already formed an opinion about what “those types” of people were like and how invalid those types of businesses were.

Plus, I had just started a new job that was super demanding and allowed me to fulfill the contract I made with myself long ago that no matter what happened, I would be a “career woman”.

My answer was no. And that was final.

Fast forward about eighteen months.

Both of my grandmothers had suddenly died within a mere three weeks of one another. I became pregnant with my second child. My job wasn’t going as well as I’d hoped it would and I was craving a sense of belonging. I wanted to be inspired.

I had changed.

I called Sarah and told her these things. I joined the company later that month. I didn’t necessarily receive new information. I was a different person and suddenly, the former information made sense for me.

And still, for some reason, it was hard to admit this.

It was hard to admit that my previous internal contract of being a “career woman” just didn’t feel completely right anymore.

But it didn’t. I wasn’t the same woman I was when I made that contract.

I had to be okay with changing my mind and let go of the fear that it made me appear somewhat less intelligent, less confident or less “something”.

It’s not always comfortable to change your mind about something significant in your life, especially if other people will be impacted by that decision.

It’s your life. You have the right to change your mind.

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