On The Inside Looking Out

Being open to change is one of the most important qualities we can cultivate as humans. As a concept it’s most commonly called open-mindedness and I think the imagery behind that name encapsulates the idea most appropriately.

When we talk about transition or change we usually phrase it as being external to us, and often on the surface it is: something can change within our environment and we have to adapt to cope with that change. That, as it stands, is no revolutionary concept.

What happens though if we accept change as a constant; an inevitability? The focus shifts from dealing with external changes as they come, towards cultivating an internal mindset that can readily evaluate a constantly changing world. In this way we’re able not only to adapt our individual circumstances to new situations, but also to capitalise on minor and major fluctuations and select the best possible outcome.

That mindset is something I value within my friendships above almost everything, and in my opinion, for good reason. Being willing and able to understand other perspectives and opinions and to integrate them in to your own way of thinking, demonstrates a level of emotional intelligence necessary to cultivate truly fulfilling connections.

Everyone has moments where we learn something about the world, or ourselves, that clashes with our existing world view or self-image. In these situations it’s easy to paint things as black and white: eg. “I’m right and they’re wrong.”

We’re all guilty of doing it and it’s definitely a route to dealing with problems that provides the least inner turmoil. The human brain will often default to taking the easiest route: one that allows us to stay as we are, while expending minimal effort and cognitive dissonance.

It’s much more difficult to question our inner motives and assumptions and revise our points of view. The cognitive horsepower that this more mindful process takes up is much more significant and can present us with tough questions and realities about ourselves and the world around us. However, to live as honest and open individuals, coming face-to-face with the inner workings of our mind is a prerequisite. We may not always like what we uncover, but by facing it head on we accept that we can be better, to ourselves, to others and to the promise of a rich and fufilling life.

More and more I’ve found myself demanding to be mindful of changes happening externally and internally. There are some aspects of my life I’ve managed to figure out and become increasingly competent at but there are other aspects, born from inexperience, that have revealed to be lacking. Being open to these deficiencies and monitoring how I respond to them has helped me immeasurably in positively building on these new experiences and coping with unexpected change.

Those who view successful relationships and experiences as a result of skills to be developed are more likely to improve their relationships and have fulfilling experiences.

I don’t assume to have all the answers and I can only speak from personal experience but when I have had setbacks and adversity, holding fast to this growth mind-set has proven invaluable in helping me to develop a desire to learn, to embrace challenges, to persist in the face of setbacks, and to see effort as a path to mastery.

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