A few weeks ago I posted something about chronic pain and recently I realized that the same lesson could be applied to other areas as well. The revelation occurred to me when I was reading an article from the Southern Poverty Law Center about hate groups. I realized that in the past, I too, had occasionally had unpleasant encounters with people of different races. The difference between me and people who go onto become passionate in their hate for others is that I didn’t allow those negative experiences to entrench themselves in my mind. I just let them go. It seems that people actively involved in Hate really cling to their negative experiences, replay them in their minds, discuss them with like-minded people who reinforce their views, and thus cement their experiences as if they are truth.
As this video below shows, it can be challenging to take the leap to learning something new, but any thought path taken again and again will become easier and easier to follow. In this way, our thinking about certain topics, people, and experiences can become habitual. Some times that’s a good thing, like when we need to train ourselves to overcome a fear of public speaking, for example. Other times, it just leads to trouble, like when we convince ourselves through repeated thought patterns that someone or something is causing us pain or trouble, when there’s little or no factual basis for that assumption.
Because I like to up-end my own thinking when I can, this idea led me to ask myself what types of thinking are habitual for me, and how can I break of the limitations those habits impose on my ability to understand and learn new things? How can I become more flexible in my thinking? This is a work in progress.