There isn’t much conversation about change being bad because change is usually associated with progress. Odds are that we’ve all heard quotes about growth and change synonymously, and that’s because change is an indication of growth and, therefore, a good thing if we ever want to get close to enlightenment. I’ve written articles before about change being difficult and why it’s so difficult (you can read that here), but I’m not talking about change in the context of it being hard. This is about change being necessary.
When we look back on history, there are a plethora of examples in which the world has outrightly contributed to the hate of particular races, behavior, looks, and even standards.
We glorify specific body types. We praise particular behaviors and elevate a certain set of standards.
It’s the status quo.
But.. when enough people start to stand up and question old, outdated ways of thinking, systemic change starts happening. And this shift in what is “normal” is usually followed by an attempt to rectify wrongs from the past.
I’m not here to get political or say our nation is doing a good or bad job at equality, but I am saying that change, both in society, community, or individually, requires us to constantly consider the validity of what we believe to be true. And if we aren’t doing this in our own lives regularly, we are seriously missing out on the joy that is made possible by open-mindedness.
Why Change is Significant
When we hold firmly to a belief system, the firm grip prevents us from seeing things that could change our thinking. Even worse, we could form a confirmation bias to new information that makes us feel threatened and causes us to automatically reject any kind of information that contradicts our belief system.
This can be dangerous because our thoughts and ideas should evolve as we get older and experience new things. This is growth and a significant part of emotional maturity.
Staying stuck in the same belief system you had as a teenager would be considered both weird and detrimental. (Could you imagine the hardships that would result had we never matured from our teenage years?)
Here’s the thing, though. Many religions, societal groups, stubborn individuals, and generations of families stay grounded in the same old traditions and practices without thinking twice. They become robotic in their thinking, only read books that validate their belief system, and only spend time with like-minded individuals instead of spending ample time listening to new perspectives and absorbing opposing information. And worse, these ideals are often largely based on a particular set of beliefs and practices grounded in ancient times when people and society were different.
Why Clinging to an old way of Thinking Can Be Detrimental?
First, being unwavering without getting feedback from opposing viewpoints (and being open to feedback) can lead to pain and suffering in the world. Left unchecked, we can become diehard and become the detestable things we don’t like in others.
Take slavery, for example. Slavery was practiced by all-even churches failed to treat black Americans with the dignity they deserved as humans. However, today, holding strong to the belief that slavery was a moral and right thing to practice would directly promote pain and suffering in the world. Because we have become “enlightened” as a society, most of us reject slavery, and those few who still hold prejudices against blacks are now viewed as hateful people. This is progress. Even though we might not be as far along as we should, as a society, we can learn something from the changes throughout the years.
Ways to not be a Diehard
- Be Aware of Cognitive Bias
- Stop Being Afraid of Opposing Viewpoints
- Hang out with People who are different than you
- Read books & Have Conversations with people to understand new realities
The Takeaway about Change
The point I’m trying to make here is that change is usually good and, more often than not, really freakin’ hard. When one person is trying to make changes to old, outdated ways of thinking, there is bound to be friction in our energy that is often out of alignment with old friends, especially within a tight-knit community. This is an inevitable product of change and something we need to embrace. It is not a reflection of us being bad or good, it’s just a shift in energy.
Often when we hold onto a particular set of beliefs, we become so fixated on holding fast to a set of values (often even in the name of righteousness) that if we aren’t careful, we can become blind to a potentially better, more loving set of ideals, keeping us stuck instead of in a state of growth.
Because we are all different and our realities aren’t necessarily “THE reality,” we should be listening to perspectives from a variety of people to keep us “in check” and to learn new perspectives and update our beliefs to ensure they are in alignment with our values rather than tradition.
Left unchecked, our belief systems could be doing more damage to the world than good.