One of the biggest obstacles to making a positive life change is stubbornness. As a Capricorn, this is supposedly one of my defining personality characteristics. The Stubborn Goat. But thankfully, I think astrology is a bunch of bull-crap. The date of my birth does not define my personality.
The strongest things I have ever done in my life have involved changing my mind and admitting I was wrong. If I had never done this, and instead clung to my ideas simply because they were comfortable, I would still weigh almost 300 pounds. I never would have found many of the joyful things I have discovered through this journey in life.
Every single person reading this right now holds at least one belief that is incorrect and detrimental, including myself. As humans, we are fallible. There does not now and never has existed a person who is right about everything all the time. You are not an exception to this rule. I am not an exception to this rule. Nobody is.
The term “open-mindedness” is thrown around so lightly, sometimes it seems to have no meaning. But in reality it has huge, deep, powerful meaning. To Open Your Mind means being willing to admit you are wrong and to change. There is no shame in this and nothing to be embarrassed about. One of the most humbling and empowering experiences is to realize you have been wrong about something, to own it, accept it, and change it. But so many of us fear questioning our beliefs, thinking our worlds will crumble if the foundations of our thinking come into question that we simply refuse to look. Refusing to see does not change anything anymore than an ostrich burying its head in the sand becomes safe from a predator. If there are cracks in the foundation, but you refuse to see them, your house will continue to crumble whether you want it to or not.
Many of us have deeply held beliefs about our lives that negatively impact our health. Some of my own beliefs that turned out to be completely wrong and needed to be revised were:
- Exercise sucks, I hate it and it is the worst thing on earth
- Healthy food doesn’t taste good
- To be thin, I have to be hungry all the time
- All or nothing is the only way for me
- I have a slow metabolism
- I’m meant to be fat
- To lose weight, I cannot eat fats
- Weight lifting will make me look manly
- Diet food is better for you than real food
- I hate drinking water
- I need to drink alcohol every night and stay up late to enjoy life
- When I have a hard day I deserve to eat a huge greasy meal
- I cannot say No when someone offers me a cookie and once I have one, I must have them all
I could continue. Did my pride take a little hit when I realized that Yoplait Light yogurt I had been eating for breakfast was actually full of chemicals and not a great choice? Absolutely. The initial sting when you find out you’ve been wrong can be painful. All I can say is to accept that pain, and then fix it. So you were wrong, so what? You’ll be wrong again, I promise.
Sometimes we read something, or someone tells us something, and we accept it as fact and truth. We cling to it despite all evidence to the contrary. You see this a lot in nutrition science. We refuse to see any counter-arguments. This is called the Confirmation Bias, the tendency of people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions. It is a very difficult logical fallacy to get around. I don’t think it is possible to completely leave it behind.
But if we can Open Our Minds,we can change. And whenever we do, that’s when we make the biggest and best improvements in our lives because a belief system built upon a cracked foundation can never be strong.
Listen. Absorb. Observe when you feel defensive upon hearing new information- this is usually a signal that something within you wants to change and that you are finding some thread of truth in what has been said, unpleasant though it may be. Free yourself from the expectation that you must always be right and you will find yourself much more able to make positive changes in your life.