Something we are seeing a lot of lately is the phenomenon of Cognitive Dissonance. Brexit. Trump. Creationism. Religion. Terrorism. People are not only refusing to accept new evidence or listen to different points of view, they double-down on their own position, regardless of what they are presented with.
Take Trump, for example. Most rational people thought it was a bad idea for him to be President before he became President. Now he is President, those same rational people are daily slapping their foreheads in disbelief and his clear stupidity. Yet, despite all evidence pointing toward him being an irrational, childish man-boy who shouldn’t be in charge of his own pens, let alone a country, those that voted for him are shouting louder than ever about what a superb job he is doing.
I don’t believe them. Not all of them, anyway. They know that he has turned out to be a fucking moron but, rather than hold their hands up and say “yup, I was wrong”, they will be vehemently protective of their initial decision. We see the same in the UK with Brexit (clearly a bad idea to begin with and now becoming a total clusterfuck of disorganisation).
I used to be that stubborn dick, refusing to accept new evidence or information to the contrary that should sway my thought processes. Thankfully, through my desire to constantly improve myself, I saw this as a massive flaw in my personality and set out to challenge and ultimately change it. Now, even on areas where I have deep set, long-held beliefs, I will listen to argument and review new evidence. If new facts come to light that contradict what I thought I knew, I will gladly admit I was wrong. If a person can express points of view I had not considered, or if they argue a point with thought and passion, I would certainly consider what they have to say and adjust my own thinking accordingly.
2017 was, for me, full of these challenges. The first one being my shift from a carnivorous diet to a 100% plant-based one. It would have been so much easier for me to think, “well, I have eaten meat for 40+ years, so why change now?”, but I didn’t. I felt the guilt of animal consumption and believed in both the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet, so the switch was easy. Sure, I had to deal with latent guilt which rose after the switch, but beyond that, it has been no big deal. I no longer contribute toward an industry I see as inherently cruel, I am doing my bit for the planet plus I am benefitting health-wise. However, if someone could provide me with evidence that animals LOVE being killed for food and that lettuce was the number one killer, I’d have a re-think.
My next issue was with Yoga. Sodding Yoga. Exercise for hippies. As someone who has lifted weights for 25+ years, the notion of Yoga was laughable at best. It didn’t help that most proponents of Yoga were weedy looking, skinny, lacking in muscle tone and wore too many beads and lycra for my liking. But I was willing to give it a go. I had seen the evidence and heard enough testimonial to at least try it. And, boy, am I glad I did! The benefits of Yoga are plentiful and, truth-be-told, if I had to pick just one exercise regimen to follow, it would be that. It has both physical and spiritual benefits that I had never even considered in the past.
Spiritual. Don’t you hate that word? I did. Still do. It is right up there with “vegan” as being a word that conjurs up the worst of humanit traits: hollier-than-thou know-it-alls that push their agenda at all costs. Yet I have found myself among those ranks. For all intents and purposes, I am a vegan (although prefer the term “plant-based”) and, through Yoga and meditation, have opened up a spiritual doorway. At the moment, it is a crack, but who knows how far that will go?
If your knee-jerk reaction to anything is an absolute, have a look at the rationale behind it. Is it defensiveness? Ignorance? Misunderstanding? Look at the evidence, listen to the arguments and, if you find yourself being swayed or can see that you are factually wrong, accept it! Embrace the change and know that there is nothing smart about always being right. No-one ever is and it is the first sign of being dumb!