Reality Check: A Change of Mind

Like me, I suspect that you sometimes change your mind about small things. For example, you were going to have chicken but Johnny said, “The fish is really good here,” so you changed your mind. Johnny’s comment is new information. Sometimes we choose to act on new information by making a change.
We’re not likely to get upset with Johnny for offering his opinion of the fish. We might agree, disagree, or ignore. But how about when Johnny expresses an opinion that challenges a closely held belief? Examples could include politics, religion, social justice, relationships, even life and death.
Disputes about beliefs abound. They range in scale and effect—from arguments within families to protests that engage large groups. Why do people engage in those disputes? To persuade? To change hearts and minds?
In Choice Theory, Dr. Glasser writes, “Other people can neither make us miserable nor make us happy. All we can get from them or give to them is information. But by itself, information cannot make us do or feel anything.”
You may be thinking, “No, what Johnny said about [politics, religion, etc.] made me mad. He’s wrong and it’s his fault for getting me upset. I can’t control that.”
While Dr. Glasser says that all we can do is provide information, what we do with that information is within our control. Although we can be coerced into doing things we don’t want to do, (through threats, peer pressure, manipulation, fear, etc.) ultimately what we do is up to us.
If a person chooses the mindset: “It’s your fault that I’m unhappy,” then it seems unlikely to me that anyone’s heart or mind will change unless there’s a corresponding change in understanding about who is in charge of our feelings.
What could cause a change in mindset? Do people ever change their minds about fundamental beliefs?
Let’s make the questions more personal: Think about beliefs that you hold dear. Have you ever changed your mind about one that’s important to you? Would you ever change? If so, what information would cause you to see things differently?
When we talk about information, perhaps books, newspapers, or experts come to mind. But there are many more sources of information in our lives; some quite persuasive.
For example, as we go through life, we gather experience, some of which comes from mistakes. We get information from our mistakes, especially when we have the opportunity to live with the consequences of them, rather than having consequences separated from our errors. We also learn from our successes. Personal experience provides information.
We meet different people. Some we respect and listen to; others we dismiss as foolish or wrong. We can choose to agree or disagree. Either way, the opinions of others are a source of information.
We also get information from informal sources. For some, social media is a huge source of information. Online groups and discussions connect people who agree. Or who don’t agree. It’s all information.
There is so much information available. For pretty much any issue, we can find opposing views if we choose to look for them.
What guides you? What, if anything, might cause you to change your mind about a strongly held opinion or belief? New information? Other people’s opinions? Something else?

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