When we open our minds, we break down the barriers that keep us isolated from others. Being open-minded requires that we recognize others can
believe or act or live differently than we do and yet still be in our lives.
When we are open-minded, we take the time to understand the point of view, beliefs and experiences of others. To be open is to show respect, even when we do not agree, or even necessarily approve of the other person’s ideas or actions. To be open is to accept others for who they are, not for who we think they should be. To be open is to love the person, even when we cannot love the actions.
When we are not open-minded, we sit as a jury in judgment waiting to pronounce a verdict. To judge is to insist that another be just like us. To judge is to be isolated. To judge is to live in fear that our way of thinking may be wrong.
Being Open Can Preserve a Relationship Under Stress
Sometimes, being open-minded is the only way to preserve a relationship that is going through a rough transition from what it was, based on the old information, to what it will be, based on the new information.
Not that it is easy. In fact, being open-minded is almost always hard.
I can’t think of a single instance of being asked to be open to some new idea, some new information, some new way of thinking, that wasn’t on the whole a good idea.
Not because I agreed with the idea, but because by listening and being open, I was able to better understand the speaker.
We don’t have to agree, or approve. We don’t have to be judge and jury. We only are required to acknowledge and comprehend. Being open requires that we seriously consider new ideas and information and form new opinions. Being open requires that we confront our own pre-judgments, our prejudices.
“When you judge another,
you do not define them,
you define yourself.”
~ Dr. Wayne Dyer
Being open-minded is not about determining who is right. Rightness is a matter of opinion. Open-mindedness is about connecting with others on common ground, no matter how narrow the bit of agreement that connects us. Sometimes the best we can do is agree to disagree on the issue at hand, while affirming our relationship by not being disagreeable with one another.
Of course, sometimes when we open our minds and let new ideas and beliefs in, we discover our own ignorance about a subject, we discover a more honest or objective view of an issue. Most importantly, sometimes, we discover empathy for others.
When we can maintain open-mindedness and use our empathy to forge a relationship built on respect and understanding, we can preserve old relationships, create new ones, and make our own lives richer and fuller.
Life Is Honest, Open and True: Being open-minded is not about changing our beliefs to be in accordance with others. Being open-minded requires us to distinguish between ideas and the persons who hold them. Life is an ongoing experience of opening our minds to new information and to accepting others for who they are, without requiring them to be a certain way or to hold certain beliefs in order to remain in our lives.
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