Changing your mind is difficult even when the facts say otherwise. Imagine my surprise when U.S. House of Representatives Jared Golden of Maine openly changed his mind regarding assault rifles after the mass shooting event in Maine on October 25, 2023.
According to ABC News, Golden, a conservative Democrat, said:
“I have opposed efforts to ban deadly weapons of war like the assault rifle used to carry out this crime. The time has come for me to take responsibility for this failure, which is why I now call on the United States Congress to ban assault rifles like the one used by the sick perpetrator of this mass killing.”
WHY CHANGING YOUR MIND IS HARD
Turns out changing your mind is not simply a matter of character, our brain is hard-wired to protect us! Who knew?
Our brain gives off feelings of pleasure when we have set, firm beliefs. However, when we began to change our viewpoint, anxiety, and fear creeps in, sending out negative vibes. So, when new facts pop up, many of us ignore the information. Instead, we turn to social media or other sources that confirm our beliefs. For instance, U.S. consumers think the economy is bad despite the strength of economic numbers.
CHANGING YOUR MIND SCEPTICISM
Why we demand our politicians have no right to change their minds is beyond me. Let’s face it—the world changes, new facts come to light. Options that never existed before appear. Something that worked in the past may not be relevant.
I often tell the story I heard from a professor at University of Houston. His wife cut the ham in two before baking it. He asked her why. She said her mother did this. The mother learned it from her mother. When he asked the grandmother why she cut the ham in two, she explained that she did not have a pan that was big enough for the whole ham!
Many times, we do things for a good reason that is no longer applicable. Examining this and changing our mind is a step in the positive direction.
According to Alex Lickerman, M.D.:
It seems we like people to change their minds only when it benefits us. Otherwise, changing one’s mind seems to suggest uncertainty, lack of leadership, lack of confidence, even weakness of character. Few of us, it seems, like people to “waffle.”
STEPS TO AID CHANGING YOUR MIND
Despite the fact that we are wired to make it hard to change our minds, it is doable.
Keeping an open mind and learning new things is indispensable. Look at the issue from various points of view. Work to form and modify your opinions based on evidence that is accurate, neutral, and verified. Be wary of those on the edge, the mavericks, and don’t be persuaded by them. Give more weight to the experts who provide a preponderance of evidence rather than the fringe expert who argues the opposite.
Remember, repeated statements are more often perceived as more truthful regardless of how false the assertion may be. We only need to look at social media and politicians to know that this is true.
LAST THOUGHTS ON CHANGING YOUR MIND
Ask yourself: when was the last time you changed your mind? This question stumped me. An easy one is seeing the Barbie movie. At first, I was dead set against it, but saw it anyway. I’m glad I did.
Other thoughts that have changed include my views on Cuba. My 2016 trip there was eye opening. What I saw and learned was not what I expected, leaving me with a more nuanced view of Cuba and our relationship to that country.
In short, we need to allow others—and ourselves—to change their mind. Yes, it’s easy to be skeptical. So, develop the motto—trust but verify.
Besides, if we didn’t grow and change, life would be boring.
When was the last time you changed your mind?