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7 Powerful Steps Towards Wisdom

“I changed my mind.”

These are four of the most powerful words in the English language. They can prevent you from being manipulated into an undesirable outcome and launch you on the road to personal and spiritual growth. Depriving yourself of the freedom to change your mind will lock you into a rigid mindset that can hamper your successes and your development.

Early in life you may have been led to believe it’s not good to change your mind. There are numerous words with negative connotations associated with those who do change their minds: fickle, indecisive, hesitant, unsure, wavering, erratic or wishy-washy. You’d much prefer to be known as steadfast, decisive, confident and sure.

Skilled manipulators use this near-universal conditioning against you every day. For example, how many times has a salesman asked you, “Are you in a position to make a decision today?” Once you agree to this proposition, you’ll feel pressure to “make a decision today,” and buy the product, even if you have reservations. After all, if you don’t buy, you’d be indecisive.

But this is not what changing your mind is all about. Changing your mind means that after thinking about the subject or after gathering more complete information, you came to a different conclusion – a better and more informed decision. This is not being indecisive. It’s being logical, prudent and wise.

What would happen if you weren’t allowed to change your mind? You’d be forced to believe the sun revolves around the earth. Your evolution on every level depends on your ability to assimilate new information and “change your mind” as to what it means and how it applies.

Psychologists call the unease you feel when you hold two conflicting opinions cognitive dissonance. The theory is that you will be unwilling to simultaneously hold two apparently contradictory beliefs in your mind and will attempt to modify one or the other to minimize the dissonance or conflict.

If you told the salesman that “you would be in a position to make a decision today,” and yet, you feel you need more time to gather additional information and think it through, you are experiencing dissonance. The skilled salesman will use your cognitive dissonance to push you to a buying decision today! If he lets you think it over, you may not make the purchase or may buy from someone else. Ever buy a new car after talking to only one dealer?

Imagine what would happen with instances of more deep-seated beliefs. You think so-and-so is the best candidate, the finest restaurant or the fastest car. To complicate matters, also imagine that you are on record as publicly stating that so-and-so is the best candidate, the finest restaurant or the fastest car. You have invested your “credibility” in this belief. What happens when new evidence comes along that contradicts this deep-seated belief? You immediately discount it.

Not only do you have the dissonance associated with trying to hold two contradictory beliefs in your mind simultaneously, but, even worse, if you accept the new idea, that might mean the first one was WRONG and you’ve lost your invested credibility!

How would most people handle the situation? Most people don’t like being wrong, so they would either ignore the new idea or, even worse, come up with all sorts of counter arguments as to why it’s wrong. In extreme cases, they may outright lie to others and to themselves, just to avoid the cognitive dissonance. To an independent observer, this appears totally irrational. To a student of human behavior, it is understandable.

As mystics, we’re after the truth. So if it turns out the second idea is more accurate, serves us better, or is otherwise superior to the first, we owe it to ourselves and to others to accept it, at least until a better idea comes along. We may be forced to utter three words that are even more powerful than “I changed my mind”:

“I was wrong.”

Being able to admit a mistake is a sign of humility, which is a prized mystic virtue. It does not mean you’re a doormat or that you are subservient to somebody else. Changing your mind after gathering more complete information and thoroughly thinking things through is a sign of being logical, thorough, thoughtful and wise.

Your prime allegiance is to the truth, regardless of where it originates.

There is tremendous freedom in uttering these powerful words. Your cognitive dissonance vanishes. You don’t have to expend any energy defending the idea of “being right.” You are free to pursue the truth without baggage.

Once you get into the habit of allowing yourself to say “I changed my mind” and “I was wrong,” you will experience newfound freedom. You will have taken 7 powerful steps towards the mystic virtue of wisdom. You will have also added the foundation of another mystic virtue: detachment. We will discuss more mystic virtues in future newsletters.

Best wishes,

Ed

If you’d like to flush your being of old thoughts,emotions and attachments, and free yourself to pursue your dreams, please visit:  Energy Center Clearing

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7 Responses to “7 Powerful Steps Towards Wisdom”

  1. Pete Hughes says:

    Truth is beyond language, so I would suggest that the only sensible course of action is to maintain NO beliefs at all.

    Then one is free to choose whatever thoughts one likes and react with total freedom in each unique present moment.

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  2. Shosh says:

    Great article! Many of us adhere to ideas or beliefs that are no longer of service to us. So, we are allowed to change our minds at any moment and admit we were wrong or choose to change our beliefs and ideas, otherwise we get stuck. We are allowed to be open-minded and looking forward to new ideas.

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  3. Leila says:

    I have a question: if you are experiencing cognitive dissonance – that is, two thoughts which contradict each other, do you have a process to use that will help you find out which one to stick to.

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  4. Lynn says:

    To Leila- the process to use when deciding upon two contradicting thoughts is to let your emotions be your guide. Think about each option entirely and separately…and then choose the one that feels better. Feelings can sometimes overtake us, but when employed consciously and purposefully, they can be our best tool. Try it!

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  5. Ed says:

    I’m the author of this article.

    I will always meditate to try and reconcile two seemingly contradictory thoughts. This can produce an even greater insight. Zen masters often give their students koans, or riddles, to contemplate, for this reason – to force them to go beyond their normal conceptual thinking and reconcile the apparent paradox.

    As an example, once I tried to understand why a business partner acted in a way that was against his own self-interest and harmful to mine. He was extremely self-centered, so his actions seemed totally contradictory. (It was not due to ignorance on his part.)

    While meditating, I had an insight that his actions were indeed self-destructive and yet in his own best interest. Unknown to me (up to that time), he was choosing the lesser of two evils. Were he to act in the way that benefited me, he would have suffered even greater long-term harm, so he chose to act against both our self interests in the short-term, but in his own long-term best interest.

    The Exercise to Release Limiting Beliefs, contained in the Energy Center Clearing package, guides you to create your own personal sanctuary on a higher plane. This is a great place to try and receive insight from your own higher self and reconcile contradictory thoughts.

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  6. Phyllis says:

    I found a way that for me is even more intense (evoking strong resonance or not)than meditation. I started looking for situations that provided a strong probability that would require that I change my mind and/or admit that I was wrong. Letting the emotion wash over me in response to the vehement social judgement regarding my character that those two phrases evoked from my family, friends, peers, and even strangers was awesome and empowering. It didn’t take very long at all to experience the sense of freedom in a way I will not be likely to forget.

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  7. chi says:

    Nice

    Humility opens many a door

    Love and fun

    Chi

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