The pitfall of needing proof...
Posted on 2nd November 2022 at 07:30
It’s been a while since we’ve turned the spotlight on one of the many tricks the Little Monster in our Heads uses to prevent us from making any changes in our lives. Interestingly, these tricks all follow the same formula, which is the reason they’re so easy to fall for without us ever realising what’s going on.
At first sight, they all seem so simple and logical. In our best interests. Stopping us from making “stupid” mistakes. Although, by a twist of irony, once they’re subjected to a little scrutiny we’re the ones looking stupid for accepting them on face value…
Whatever the trick, the end result is the same. We don’t make any changes, but carry on doing exactly the same thing, with exactly the same results. Over and over again. Now that is stupid…
So which little trick are we going to look at today?
Well, it’s about the need for proof that something is correct / real / true / fill in the blank before we’re even prepared to consider it, let alone making any changes as a result. In other words, it’s about the process of reviewing and re evaluating our current thoughts, beliefs or understandings on any matter, big or small. Which, in turn, allows us to make changes in our lives.
On one hand, the need for proof seems entirely reasonable. Afterall, changing our viewpoint on any matter shouldn’t be done on a whim but at least involve a little research and thought beforehand. Using it as an opportunity to “test” our existing thoughts, beliefs or understandings before deciding whether they need to be updated as a result.
However, there are a couple of big flaws in this approach. Ones the Little Monster in our Heads is very quick to exploit.
The first is that we’re trying to evaluate new information using our current viewpoint – which is based on information collected in the past. ie, on old information. It’s rather like trying to run your computer on old, outdated software. It just doesn’t produce optimum results. That’s if it works at all.
If the new information is only a small step away then it may be possible to fit it into our existing framework with a little “tinkering” round the edges. But, what if it’s very different? Then, it’s going to be instantly rejected and a golden opportunity lost.
The second is that the new information is certain, “set in stone.” Sadly, the only certain thing in life is uncertainty. In other words, that there’s constant change. And it’s this constant change which is so threatening to the Little Monster in our Heads who likes certainty. Knowing exactly what’s going to happen and when it’s likely to happen. Which is exactly why change is resisted and we carry on making the same decisions – and mistakes – over and over again…
Once it’s pointed out, it’s so obvious, and yet it’s another of the little tricks we seem to fall for so easily.
So, what’s the answer?
Well, as usual, it’s quite simple. Not treating any thoughts, beliefs or understandings on any topic as being fixed in stone. Instead seeing them as the current version – rather like the software on your computer – until updated in the light of new information. Then, as new information comes in, using it as an opportunity to re evaluate and update your own software.
If it’s obvious it needs updating, then update it.
If not, then continue as before.
But what if you’re not sure?
Then simply sit on the fence, while being open for further information to come in. When it does, allow it to push you one way or the other.
And we know what the Little Monster in your Head is saying about this simple approach. Won’t you look stupid if you update your thoughts, beliefs and understandings from time to time? Of course not. In fact, just the opposite. It’s hanging on stubbornly to old, outdated thoughts and beliefs that’s stupid. Really stupid.
So, what if it’s someone else asking you for proof?
Usually where you’re “challenging” – in some way – their thoughts, beliefs or understanding on a particular matter. And that’s whether you’re actually meaning to challenge them or just expressing a different viewpoint.
The most important thing to remember is that they’re coming from a defensive position, rather than an open minded, “that’s interesting”, one. Wanting to show you that they’re “right” and you’re “wrong.” This means that trying to “win them round” isn’t going to work. It’s the Little Monster in their Head who’s asking the questions and he’s not in a receptive frame of mind.
If you’re in any doubt, take a quick look at their body language and you’ll notice it’s rather defensive. Crossed arms, a set chin (!) and an expression of dis belief. There are no prizes for guessing how the conversation is going to pan out…
So, a different strategy is needed.
Rather than trying to win them round, simply drop a few little nuggets of information into the conversation. Or as we heard it once said, say about 10% of what you want to say and then stop. Think of it as sowing a few seeds and then waiting to see what happens. Not only is it less threatening to the current viewpoint of their Little Monster, but it also encourages them to go and do their own research to find out more. And, even if nothing seems to be happening, remember that some seeds take a very long time to grow. They may simply not be ready to look at it any further now, but may do so at some time in the future.
And, finally, remember that we’re all perfectly entitled to our own particular thoughts, beliefs and understandings, as is everyone else. It’s all about respecting our differences…
As always, the choice is yours.
Picture by unknown author
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