“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” — Wayne W. Dyer
Dr. Dyer (1) makes a good point that can help us resolve one dilemma causing friction in our modern society. Most people want things to change for the better, but there is a difference of opinion about what better means.
There is a polarization between religious superstition and scientific evidence. The clash between science and religion is becoming more intense. Religious extremists want to take us back to the 12th Century, and science wants to move us to the 21st Century. How can we reconcile these two vastly different worldviews?
“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.” ― Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now
Change the Way You Look at Things
Why should you change the way to see things? Because if we change our perception, we learn and grow. That’s the foundation for making things better.
The first thing we need to change is our approach. This approach doesn’t mean we should empathize and agree with people, especially if their position is harmful. What we need to do is learn to set aside our emotions. When we do this, we think more clearly, and then we can better understand how they came to their conclusions.
We don’t have to give up anything. We need to expand our awareness to determine how and why someone thinks the way they do. We may disagree with their opinion and actions. The task is to understand why they believe the things they do. Otherwise, the conflict of differing worldviews leads to frustration.
The Social Arena
People on both sides are not engaging in meaningful dialogue about global issues. This lack of dialogue only leads to more polarization. The next time you face this dilemma, reverse your focus. Don’t start thinking of a rebuttal. Instead, stop, listen, and think. Ask questions about why they believe what they do. Change the way you look at the issue, and you may change the way you feel about them.
Understanding why they have come to their conclusions will help you develop a new perspective. When you engage them in this way, it calms their emotions and disarms their attack. To do this, you need to overcome two things. First, we must overcome our emotional response to them and the issue. Second, we must also overcome the propaganda that bombards us. Both are intertwined together, which makes it more challenging to negotiate.
The propaganda machine makes sure you hear the message they want to project. If you can learn to recognize what is happening, you can ignore it or minimize its effect. We recommend using an “emotional check technique” to help maintain your emotional equilibrium. If you can stay calm, then you will think more clearly. When you think more clearly, you can spot the propaganda and sift out facts from the fiction.
The idea here is not to change their minds but to get them to question what they believe. Don’t be surprised if you find this leads to a discussion about what they hate or makes them angry. The source of these emotions drives all bias and prejudice.
The second thing we need to deal with is our Ego. Our personality likes to control what we think to maintain control. If we are to see things differently, we need to understand our self-talk and remove harmful scripts. The Enneagram of Personality is the best tool for finding the default self-talk scripts for your personality type. Your personality isn’t a bad thing. It’s a necessary tool of consciousness, but few people learn when to turn it off.
It may seem like a relatively simple strategy, but it’s hard to implement. That’s because routines run our lives. The autopilot mode makes things easier. We don’t have to think consciously about what we need to do. But patterns make it easy to slip into bad habits. If we want to see things differently, we need to start with ourselves.
Two everyday bad habits come from the conveniences of our modern society. The first is the hypnotic effect of being entertained. When we are engaged, we lose ourselves, and we lose time. It’s a waste of opportunities within life. The second bad habit is filtering our social interaction through electronic media.
How do you change the way you look at things? It takes just three steps. The first step is always the hardest one. But trust me, you’ll soon find that it was worthwhile.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
First ― Limit TV and Internet
The goal is to limit TV, the internet, and social media to two (2) hours per day. Yes. It’s a hard step, but you’ll save on average about four (4) hours a day, or twenty-eight (28) hours a week.
“One must always be careful of books,” said Tessa, “and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.” ― Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel
Now, with all the time you’ve saved, find a used bookstore. Please go into the bookstore and buy the oldest and cheapest book they have in the genres of philosophy, religion, or history. Now sit down and read it for at least an hour. Use a pencil or yellow marker. Make notes in the margins. Think about it. You are expanding your awareness by creating new neuro-connections, sparking new ideas.
Second ― Talk to People
When it is safe, meet people face to face—otherwise, substitute “Facetime” or Zoom. Chat rooms will allow you to see people. Sign up for free webinars. Explore new interests and subjects.
The goal is to meet new people and open your heart. Use a book as the focal point; find out what other people read. Find people from different backgrounds and points of view. It will expand your social awareness.
Now that you know one another, ask them about their opinion on what you’ve read. Please encourage everyone to turn off the TV and read it. We also suggest making a follow-up meeting but don’t forget the primary purpose of step two is to find someone new to talk with about the book.
Third ― Repeat the First Two Steps
The results will surprise you. You’ll discover that connecting and doing research is more enjoyable than passive entertainment in less than a month. You’ll find your mind hungers to learn and share. You’ll change the way you look at things, and the things you look at will change you in response.
Two steps seem too simple. It’s three if you count repeating as a step, but the simple things in this exercise will change you. You will see things differently, and that’s the point.
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(1) Change Thoughts Change your Life, Dr. Wayne Dyer
(2) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia