Are we really open to new ideas? Take me for example – I couldn’t possibly boil an egg before piercing the fat end with a drawing pin then putting it into the boiling water. Always have – since someone like Delia mentioned it - probably always will.
How many other things do we do because that’s the way we’ve always done them because that’s the way that we have been taught is ‘right’?
Folding wet washing. I always take the washing straight from the machine, fold it carefully, wet. Leave it a while – then hang it up to dry – makes any ironing a dream. Milk first in the teacup – because I believed that was the way to serve it – until a friend told me recently that in her family it was considered rather common so to do. (Horror!) And, besides, turns out that technically milk after is the best way to calibrate the colour of the tea. Half a century I’d been putting milk first in the cup…(still do actually). Scones, cream teas – yes, please – jam before cream. Absolutely no question about that one. The prompt for me writing this today stemmed from my decision to ‘open my mind’ to replacing the expandable wire cross-bath storage rack that I’ve favoured for umpteen years, with a smaller tidier basket that suckers to the wall. Revolutionary stuff for me!
There does seem to be a bit of an overlap here with the three Rs, Routine, Ritual and Repetition and from there I expect it could easily be a slippery slope to obsessive compulsion.
Being a Sexagenarian, like many of my generation, I’ve had a lot of new ideas to get my head around: television, space travel, sonic flight, mobile ‘phones, the world wide web, fibre optic broadband, the microwave, microchip and several generations of G.
It seems only yesterday when I was intrigued to see a young woman talking animatedly to herself, on the pavement, as I was driving by. “Oh dear. Bless”, I thought and then realised that she was talking on the ‘phone, outside, in public. ‘Phones, I’d learned, (see how I still use the apostrophe - age-reveal), were objects kept in the hall of the home (or in a public red ‘phone box if you hadn’t the money for one) and used for business calls solely between 9 and 5pm Mon – Friday. Calls to family and close friends could be made 7 days a week but considerately - only up to around 9pm – intrusiveness must be avoided at all costs.
This isn’t a whinge – a, ‘when I was your age’ or ‘what’s wrong with the world today is…’type of thing. I’m pretty tech-savvy to tell the truth. I’ve embraced the technology – in most areas. I’m afraid I failed miserably however in the audio-device dept. I was keeping up with tape cassettes and had moved smoothly onto compact discs but I fell at the iPod fence and never climbed over it to download stream or store. But – credit where credit’s due – I can set up and host a pretty efficient online webinar!
In coaching terms, a list of our ideas is termed as ‘constructs’ and these come under the heading of Values and Beliefs. These will naturally have stemmed from what we saw, heard and were told when we were growing up. (This is a good moment to mention that I can never peel an orange in any other way than the one that my father carefully showed me.) We also learn things like, who’s in, who’s out in the Okay Parade, what’s acceptable behaviour, what is not. Watching and learning, taking our parents opinions, religious, political, societal, moral beliefs on board.
Breaking a bread roll rather than cutting it in half before buttering – Good.
Wearing red high heels, smoking in the street – Bad.
Then, having hard-wired these in over the first dozen or so years, along comes secondary school, hormones, acne, peer groups and rebellion. The teenage years are a natural time for separation. Evolution dictates that young adults actually need to start that separation process, preparing to split off and start an independent life.
We may also begin to question those values and beliefs, horrifying our parents by converting to the opposite views to theirs. Religion, politics, ethical and moral values – all these may come under the cold light of revaluation and review. Thank goodness for the questioningness of young people, for the opening of young minds, which up until now, may only have been filled from one limited, biased source.
They are our future. And I don’t use the term lightly.
I wish I’d been that kind of teenager back in the Sixties. Rigid thinking, fear of criticism, lack of confidence, these are some of the blocks to open minds. I have not yet heard the term ‘narrow-minded’ delivered as a compliment! Conversely, rigid thinking plus arrogance, prejudice and over-confidence can also be just as limiting.
We’ve talked about the opportunity for mind-opening through the teenage stage of education, peer-opinion and personal development – when else might we be ready to open our minds to change? I heard this the other day from contemporary spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, “at times of great adversity there is also great opportunity.” He was referring to the current pandemic, but he went to say that this can also apply to each or any of us in our personal lives. I know it did for me and I came to it rather late in life. I had reached my mid Forties before ‘adversity’ had me on my knees and ready for a complete rethink. What do they say, “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.” I’m grateful for that adversity for the push to open my mind.
When you are ready, working with a coach to open your mind begins with exploring that original set of values and beliefs together. Your coach has no opinion or judgment about your list, they will be more curious and interested than anything else. There may be questions like, “I wonder where that value comes from…”Have you held that belief for long…”Do you feel that type of thinking still has a use today…?
Any and all of the answers are okay. Acceptance and compassion for all, these are a couple of the keys to unlock the movement on those less helpful ones and we definitely want to identify all your beautiful, beneficial beliefs and values too.
Working with your coach is a great way to achieve mind-opening. Together we can work to remove any old ideas that are getting in the way, blocking your route to a broader and more colourful of experience of life, not only for you but everyone who comes into contact with you too. When we are living in accordance with our true values and beliefs, we are living a wholly authentic life.
As we let go of the more limiting narrow values and beliefs, we make a space for all the good stuff to come in. Thanks to the times we live in, there are wonderful mind-opening resources, literally at our fingertips for exploring these new ideas: books, articles, blogs, vlogs, podcasts and live events.
The world of open-mindedness is our oyster with its beautiful pearl nestled just inside. We don’t need a sharp knife or a Shakespearean sword to open it – just a little willingness.