Have you ever known something to be true, only to find out you were completely wrong? I’ve had arguments with people where half-way through I figured out I was wrong, but I still held my ground because of my commitment to winning. It’s time to learn how to create and keep an open mind so that you are flexible in all of life’s challenges. “Knowing” something limits what more you can know, but admitting that you don’t know everything opens the the door to endless possibilities.
Sounds like a great topic for discussion!
(The following is a transcript of episode 59)
Before we get into today’s show, I just want to thank those who’ve purchased and left reviews for my ebook called Clear The Path To Happiness. In the first couple of days, it received a few hundred downloads, and as of today, it’s reached best seller status in Amazon, reaching #1 in two categories.
So if you enjoy this show but want the content in an easier to digest format, just visit theoverwhelmedbrain.com/books. As I write more ebooks, I’ll update them on the “books” page of my site.
So let’s chat today about the open mind. Or, more specifically, the ability to approach something from the perspective that anything is possible. When you can adopt the belief or at least consider the idea that anything is possible, you open yourself up to options and opportunities that you may not even have known existed.
Being open-minded is a path to freedom and a door that leads to new ideas and innovation. It will keep you happier and feeling less resistant to change.
When you approach an impossible situation with the thought that anything is possible, a solution is usually revealed.
And more times than not, the solution will be a thought that leads to another thought. And this is an important differentiator, because our first thoughts about any situation usually stem from our conscious beliefs. And if we don’t consciously believe that something is possible, then we won’t think of a solution.
But if we explore further down into our subconscious thoughts, where we dive deeper into our mind, we start coming up with ideas that surprise even us.
There is a way to stay open-minded with every situation, so I’d like to talk about that today.
By the time this episode is over, you’ll learn what you can do to keep an open mind. Or maybe a more open mind than you have now. Of course, if you’re listening to a show like this, maybe your mind is already open to new ideas anyway.
Though, sometimes we follow a path with blinders on “knowing” we are right. When we do this, our mind is closed. Once we know something, we tend to shut down the part of us that is open to learning new things about that something.
In other words, “knowing” something puts your knowledge of that thing into a box. A box has limits, it has walls. When you claim to know something, you are setting a limitation upon yourself to not know more about it.
I realize this is kind of confusing, but I will clarify my points as we go along today. But that is what we’re here to discuss. “Knowing” is a box. When you know, you place boundaries on what you could know. When you don’t know, you are open to learning and growing.
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, because sometimes there is no solution to an impossible problem. But stick with me. Knowing is boundary, and I want to help you get past these self-imposed boundaries so that you don’t fall into a closed-mindset, where your perspective of the world is only as broad as the box you’ve placed it in.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there were more options in life? Keep an open mind as we get a bit deeper into today’s show.
I was on a project a few years ago where I traveled the country surveying banking institutions for a computer upgrade. I got paid to take my laptop and a clipboard into a bank, draw a floor plan, take inventory of equipment, then go back to the hotel room at night to transfer data to a central office.
It was very methodical and easy, and I had a lot of fun traveling and getting paid for it. Well, near the beginning of the project, I worked with a guy who was kind of arrogant and kind of irritating. He was nice, but sometimes he was just hard to be around because he had such a negative attitude.
But, I always make the best of things and keep an open mind. Well, we attended a training class together one day, and I remember talking to him about what time the class started the next day. I told him the class started at noon the next day, and he vehemently disagreed and knew I was wrong.
He said it started at 9:00, not noon. I told him, “No, I’m sure it starts at noon. I know it.” And he told me I was completely wrong and that I was going to be late for class. I said, “I’m telling you, I know this for sure, we come in at noon.”
And he just shook his head and said something like, “Alright, you come in at noon then, but I’ll be here at 9.”
I laughed and told him, “That’s fine with me! I’ll sleep in and you can sit in the classroom by yourself.” He shook his head again, convinced that I was an idiot, but kind of irritated at me because I simply didn’t believe him.
Well, an hour later I decided to dig up the original schedule just so I could throw it in his face and be right. I wasn’t literally going to throw it, but I did feel the need to prove myself to him. My ego got involved and drove me to want to present my righteousness in any way possible.
So I found the schedule, looked up the time, and my confidence sank into my feet. I immediately realized how wrong I was. I “knew” I was right, but yet there it was in black and white: 9 AM. Not noon… 9.
Oh God, now I have to face this arrogant, irritating guy again and tell him he was right. Oh what agony. But, I knew I was wrong, and he deserved an apology for my behavior. So I walked up to him and said, “You were right! I was so confident, but I just confirmed the time and you were right all along. I’m sorry about that. I should have confirmed it first.”
The first thing he did was smile really wide and laugh at me. Then he said in a real sarcastic voice, “I told you! But you didn’t want to listen to me. You were so confident that you were right, and you had the answer all along. Ha ha, I told you so!”
I said, “Yeah, I deserve that. So sorry about that! Hey, you know, it can happen to anyone. I’ve learned my lesson.”
I thought he’d just laugh it off, but instead, he decided to push it further and continue telling me how wrong I was. In fact, for the rest of the night, he wouldn’t give it up. He would tell other people, “Don’t listen to this guy, he will steer you wrong.”
The more I heard it, the more uncomfortable I got. I mean, I realize I was wrong, but I apologized… can’t he just let it go now?
So we went back to our rooms, and met in the classroom the next morning. As soon as he saw me he said something like, “Good thing you checked huh? You would have been late, and I would have been laughing. I guess you aren’t as smart as you think you are, are you? Ha ha, that was so stupid. You were going to make me late. Thanks a lot pal. You’re a real friend!”
At this point, I’m now laughing but it’s so fake, it actually hurts me to laugh. It’s like forcing your body to do something it isn’t capable of doing. I couldn’t engage the muscles inside me that caused me to laugh, so I had to use different muscles to fake it. It was so uncomfortable! On top of his continuous bashing and not letting it go, I was also feeling so uncomfortable because I felt like I sort of deserved it.
So later that day we had to go to one of the banks together. Before we got there, we decided to pull up to a fast food drive-through (something I never do now, but when I was on the road, fast food was sometimes the only choice). Well, as we’re pulling up to the window to pay, he starts making cracks at my inability to count change. After all, if I don’t know the time we were supposed to meet, I must be bad with all numbers!
I was finally worn out and had enough. I look at him and said, “When you say things like that, I feel like you are disrespecting me. Can’t you just let me be wrong with dignity?”
He got completely silent. And from that point on, his entire attitude changed.
Knowing is a box. As soon as you say, “I know”, you immediately place boundaries on what you can know. When you are absolutely certain about what something is, you leave no room for what it isn’t.
Am I staying a little too abstract for you? Let me give you an example. My ex-wife used to say “I know” to a lot of things. If I shared something with her that I thought might help her with her business, she’d say, “I know.”
If I had advice on a health issue she was dealing with, she’d reply, “I know”.
It seemed that quite a lot of what I was telling her she already knew about. At times, I thought she was brilliant. After all, she seems to know so much. Then at other times, I thought, “How can she know so much! Is it possible?”
So I started observing. Yeah, I’ll admit it, I observe people when there’s a pattern I’m trying to figure out. I observed my wife because she had a pattern of saying “I know” a lot. It came out of her mouth really fast, sometimes before I even finished my thought.
I remember crossing the street with her one day and I asked her, are you supposed to cross if the red hand is blinking? And she said “Of course! You’re not supposed to cross when it’s solid, but if it’s blinking, it’s okay.”
That made sense. Then I asked, what if it starts blinking while you’re still on the sidewalk? Is it legal to start crossing after that?
She said, “Of course it is! As long as it’s not solid, you can cross.” I said, “That doesn’t sound right. Because how do you know what it started blinking. There could be one blink left, then if you crossed right before that, you’d get a solid red hand, and cars would start beeping at you.”
She said, “I know it’s legal. I’ve been doing it for years. When it’s blinking, it’s safe to start crossing.”
I asked, “Are you sure?”
She said, “Yes, absolutely. I know this is true. It’s been that way ever since I can remember.”
So, knowing that she had a tendency to say “I know” a lot, I decided to look up the laws regarding pedestrian crossing. Sure enough, the law I read stated that you are not allowed to start walking across the street if the crosswalk sign is blinking red.
When I shared this with her, she didn’t believe me at first. She was absolutely sure she was right. I asked her how she knew she was right, and she told me, “Because that’s how I’ve always done it.”
I’m not saying her mind was closed, because she had a very open mind. But I will say that she was not open to being wrong about what she was sure about.
When you know something, also adopt a belief that you may not know it too.
I know that sounds strange, but think about it. If I told you to look up into the sky, and you saw the color blue, would you be absolutely sure that the sky was indeed blue? Or would you be open to other possibilities?
I can allow myself to be absolutely sure about something, but also follow it up with the statement, “I’m open to being wrong”.
Can you do this? Can you be 100% sure about something in your life, but be just as open to being wrong about it? If you can do this, it is liberating. It frees you from the limitations of belief.
Yes, I said it. The limitations of belief will keep you getting the same results you always get. Now, if you like your results, that’s a good thing. If you like your daily life, and you’re not always stressed out or pushed to your limits, then maybe your belief system is fine as it is.
But if you have beliefs that cause you stress or keep you stuck where you are and you feel like you’re not progressing in life, then maybe it’s time to adopt a new philosophy. An addendum to your belief system may just help you get beyond your stuck points and on a roll into progress.
If you are open to being wrong, then you can choose to be right about almost anything, all the time! If you really want to that is. The most healthy choice is to simply stay open to any possibility, but it’s a lot easier to pick a path, and follow it.
In other words, when you know you’re right, you just move in that direction. Just like when you know you’re wrong, you avoid that direction. But what about knowing you’re right, and being open to being wrong?
When you do this, it plays with your mind a little bit, doesn’t it? I mean, how can you be 100% certain about something, at the same time, be open to being incorrect about what you know?
And why in the world would you want to do this in the first place? I mean, if you know you’re right, you simply go in the direction of that decision with confidence, right? Well, the reason you might want to do this is to avoid commitment to the wrong cause after the fact.
Let me explain. How many times in your life have you gotten into an argument where halfway through, you realized you were completely wrong and because you were so stuck on being right, you pushed through it?
Or, how about a relationship that started out great, but you soon figured out it was wrong for you? And when you figured it out, how long did you stay in that relationship before leaving it? Are you still in it?
When you are open to being wrong, you make it easier to make things right.
When you know you are right, you eliminate your escape routes. You close the door to what’s possible, and are limited by your beliefs. It’s hard to think outside of the box when you know you’re right, because there’s no room for expanding your mind.
If you know a relationship is going to work out, and you’ll be fine, then you tell all your friends about this amazing relationship you have, you’re going to be more likely to commit to staying in it, even after things have gotten bad. After all, if you leave the relationship, all your friends will think you are an idiot. Right?
Probably not, because we’ve all been through breakups. But it is typically harder to face people and fess up to them that you were wrong about something. However, by being open to being wrong, you can still move in a direction confidently, and know that you can change your mind at anytime if something comes up.
You might think this is a copout, and non-committal. But in reality, it’s the most logical, rational, and healthy thought process to have. The reason for that is that once you commit to something, you are setting up limitations in your brain. You’re telling your brain that unless something really out of the ordinary happens, you are committed. So you’ll stay committed simply to prove to yourself and the world that you are a person of integrity.
That’s hard to believe actually! People will sometimes stay committed to something they dislike, or hate, just because they are a person of their word. If you have committed to something and it has gone sour, maybe you should be less concerned about being a person of your word, and more concerned about being a person of your worth!
My ex-wife left our marriage after she committed to being married to me forever. But I don’t see that as her backing out on her word, I see her as respecting and honoring her worth. She felt unsafe in our marriage because of my judgment issues, so she had to protect herself.
This was an extremely healthy decision for her, because there was a period of time that I had unresolved issues. And those issues interfered with our relationship. Once I resolved them, she was already in self-preservation mode and she couldn’t return to the state she was once in, to feel safe and loved again.
She committed to the marriage, but she was committed to herself more.
This is where you need to be most of the time. I say “most” because sometimes you just have to accept certain situations as-is. Having to raise children is one of those situations. If you brought them into the world, or into your home through adoption or other means, that’s the kind of commitment that has a lot less room for flexibility. This is where complete acceptance of your circumstances has to take place.
But in many cases, a commitment to anything should really start with a commitment to yourself first.
Let’s talk about commitment for a few minutes. Commitment has a lot of similarities to closed-mindedness, and I think it’s important to make the distinctions to help you keep your mind open without attaching yourself to avoidable problems.
A commitment is when you dedicate your time and energy to a person or a situation. It is typically a promise you make to show that you are dedicated to the maintenance or completion of something.
However, many people see commitment as a lifelong, unwavering promise to someone else that, if broken, makes the person who committed look untrustworthy and disloyal. And sometimes that’s the case! Some people are simply not trustworthy, and will not follow through on their commitments.
These are the people you weed out of your life. They prove themselves to be untrustworthy over and over again, and you eventually decide that you deserve better. There are people that keep betraying over and over again. These are the folks that we need to compartmentalize. We need to put them into a category, and know that they simply are who they are and there’s nothing we can do about it. We can choose to have them in our life or not.
But what about commitment? What is a healthy way to commit to something? In my opinion, you can commit to anything you want with the caveat that when you do, you are actually committing to yourself first.
My ex left because she had realized that her commitment to me was not more important than her commitment to herself. She probably didn’t make a commitment to herself early on in our relationship, but only realized it later when she felt her personal boundaries getting crossed over and over again.
I made a commitment to myself over a job I had a while back. A couple years ago when I applied to work in a hospital, I committed that I would work there as long as I never felt compromised. In other words, I would stay working there as long as no one crossed my personal boundaries.
We talked about personal boundaries in a couple previous episodes, but they come up over and over again. So what I want to do now is give you a few suggestions when it comes to making commitments. These are things to think about when it comes to your current commitments as well as your future ones.
- Commit to yourself first, then to whatever’s outside of you. You can only ever keep a commitment if you honor yourself first anyway, as that is how you come from a place of integrity. If you try to commit to something without honoring yourself first, then you are not in full integrity.Does that make sense? If you commit, you need to be firm and aligned in yourself to do so. If you feel aligned and want to commit, then go for it. Then, if what you’ve committed to is wearing you down or causing you to feel bad, then check in with yourself. Are you honoring yourself? Are you allowing someone or something to violate your personal boundaries?You will only ever stay as committed to something as long as you honor and commit to yourself first.
- When you decide to commit to something, ask yourself, “Am I open to letting this go if it violates my personal boundaries?”This is along the same lines as, “Am I open to being wrong?”. I don’t really like calling this an escape route, but in a sense, it is! I believe that when you are honoring and committed to yourself first, then you honor or commit to someone or something else, that situation is more likely to work out.As opposed to committing to someone or something and not really taking into account how you feel first. I remember when I joined a martial arts class in my 20s. I invested about 4 years learning karate and Tai Chi in what’s called a Dojo, which is the Japanese term they used to describe the school.In a dojo, there are usually strict rules and etiquette to follow. When you enter the dojo, you bow. When you walk away from your teacher, you walk backwards to show respect. When you train, you keep up with the group and push yourself to get better, otherwise you feel kind of foolish because everyone around you appears to be pushing harder than you.It’s not like this in all dojos, but I went to a very traditional school so the training was really all about conditioning. We were conditioned to respect others, follow rules, and learn and repeat body movements over and over again. The repetitions drilled into us created a very disciplined mentality. This is actually beneficial, because this can help in all areas of life. It makes you more decisive and action-oriented. Plus, it limits drama so that you can think proactively, not reactively.Anyway, I felt an incredibly strong commitment to the sensei, or teacher, of the school. She taught us to stay committed and that our word is our bond. So when the day came that I wanted to leave the school to put more time and energy into other areas of my life, I found it extremely difficult to approach her and tell her this.
In one sense, my commitment was to her and the school. But it wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore, so I felt conflicted. I knew I committed to the school, but what I didn’t seem to realize is that I never really committed to myself first.
I walked into her office and approached the subject as if I were about to tell her that her dog just got run over by a car or something. I actually feared that I would be disappointing her if I left.
When I sat down, I said, “I think I’m going to stop taking classes. I hope you’re not upset with me.”
She’s like, “Of course not! You’ve done this for long enough so that you know what you want in life. If you want to stop training, that’s totally up to you.”
I said, “Really? You’re not upset?” She said, “No, I trust that you know what’s best for you.”
And that was it! That moment made me realize why it’s so important to honor yourself first. I wanted to leave months before that but kept coming back because I felt committed to someone else. But whatever I was giving at the dojo was only half as much as I wanted to give in the first place. I was giving out of a place of self-imposed obligation.
And the more I gave to someone else because I felt obligated to, the less happy I was and the more I felt drained. I was honoring others first, and me second.
If I were the same person then that I am today, I would have walked in her office and said, “I want to thank you for the training you’ve given to to me for the past few years. I’m moving on and putting my time and energy into something else now. But I wanted you to know how much I appreciate you. You’ve taught me lessons that will last a lifetime. “
But I didn’t do that. I walked in like a scared dog that just got caught ripping up the couch cushions. I felt afraid that I would be looked down upon. I was so committed that I just figured I’d have to do this until I died. I exaggerate, but only a little bit.
But, the truth of the matter is that because I was continuing to do something I didn’t want to do anymore, I was violating my own personal boundaries. I didn’t enjoy training, and wanted to do something else with my time. But I was a man of my word, so I kept it. And breaking that word was very hard to do.
That’s what it feels like. It feels like you’re breaking your word when you break a commitment. But as you go forward in life, remember the first commitment needs to be to yourself.
And I mean that in the sense that you still honor and respect others, but not at the cost of violating your own personal boundaries. For instance, I discourage lying, cheating and stealing because that is how you want to honor yourself. If you do these things, you really aren’t honoring yourself at all, because who you are at a deeper level is not that person. You weren’t born that way.
You were born innocent, and things happen during life that try to corrupt that innocence. So what you’re really doing is honoring that innocence inside of you when you honor yourself.
Back in my 20s, my first commitment wasn’t to myself, it was to the dojo and my teacher. My secondary commitment was to myself. In the story I just told, I did finally honor myself, but only after months of struggling and dealing with something I didn’t want to do, which was face my sensei and tell her that I no longer wanted to honor my commitment to her.
Had I honored myself first, that struggling wouldn’t have existed because I would have checked inside and figured out what I needed first, not what I believed others needed first. I stayed longer than I wanted and felt conflicted the whole time.
You ever do that? Stay much longer than you wanted to stay, and endure it just because you felt some sort of obligation or commitment to someone or something?
If I had started my martial arts training with the thought of committing to myself first, and to others second, then that is the philosophy that would have made me feel the most passionate and committed to anything that came along during my time there.
This event in life, where I told my sensei that I was leaving the dojo, was the first hint I needed that it’s okay to let something go if it violates my personal boundaries. Even if I made a commitment.
I think a lot of us have it backwards, where we believe that because we committed to something, we deserve the misery if it comes. Just because you’re committed to someone or something, doesn’t mean your personal boundaries take a back seat. Your boundaries are what you honor first, then your commitment to others. Honoring yourself first is a commitment. Just remember that so that you don’t allow misery into your life.
- The third suggestion I have when making commitments is to be open to being wrong about what you’ve committed to. There it is again:Be open to being wrong about what you’ve committed to.
By doing this, you release the fear of being wrong. By releasing the fear that you may have made the wrong decision, you can release your grasp on not wanting to look like an idiot.What I mean is that when you commit to something, and you drop a hard rule that you will stay committed to it no matter what, you might actually create a subconscious fear that runs in the background all the time.When I committed to the dojo, and when they drilled into us that our word is our bond over and over again, I developed a small fear that I’d never be able to leave. Ever. It was almost a cult mindset. I was free to leave anytime, but I was convinced that leaving would be bad because I was now committed.It was like the 13 year relationship I had with a girl that started to dissolve during the last couple years. I felt it, and she knew she fell out of love with me, but I was committed no matter what so I knew I was going to stick around to the end.The problem was, she didn’t want me sticking around, but didn’t have the heart to tell me. She was more committed to me than to herself, even though she didn’t want me in her life anymore. And I was so committed to her that I refused to look at all the bad stuff going on as major signs that something was wrong with the relationship.
But, I plowed through it and “kept my commitment dammit!” even when the love died and the intimacy disappeared. I was loyal to a fault. Actually, I was loyal to her first, and that was my fault. I mean, you should be loyal to the ones you love, of course, but if that means putting the blinders on to what’s happening inside of you, and bypassing your own health and happiness, then it’s time to figure out your priorities.
When you make your first priority “you”, then you can love and be loved from a deeper place inside of you. When you make your first priority someone else, you bypass your own needs and actually do them the disservice of showing them a “lesser” you.
What does that mean? It means that when you cannot give and express yourself from an authentic place, you actually come from a place of fear deep down inside. It may not be noticeable, but think about it for a minute… Why wouldn’t you always express from a truly authentic place?
Why wouldn’t you share with anyone your history, your pain, and your vulnerabilities? There’re a few reasons, but mainly they are based in fear.
The fear could be that you don’t trust the person you’re with, and they may use that information against you. Or, maybe you do trust the person, but still believe that by being vulnerable and authentic, you are exposing yourself and may get attacked. Or it’s possible that you’re simply aware that not everyone can handle some of the more revealing thoughts and emotions you have, and you fear that they might have a negative reaction.
For me, I express almost everything. Almost. For example, on this show, I rarely talk about the sexual issues I’ve dealt with, mainly because I have a fear that certain people will hear it and be turned off by my revelations. My issues are nothing major, but they are a part of me that is vulnerable. And I’m typically open to being vulnerable.
I will talk about them with anyone that asks me directly, or if the subject comes up, but that low level fear of revealing very personal things like that to the world still exists so I won’t bring them up.
This is an attachment I have. I usually encourage letting go of attachments because of how freeing it is, but I still have some because they are a part of me that I hold closer to my core. I want to have things that are mine and mine alone, and that can be a healthy thing.
This is part of honoring your boundaries. When you do this, you commit to yourself first. So no matter what your commitment to someone or something else is, be open to being wrong about the choice you made. It doesn’t mean you have doubts, it just means that the door is there if you ever need to walk through it.
When it comes to commitments, I honor them until I’m exhausted, then I move on. If I’m in a bad relationship, I don’t just walk away. I do whatever it takes to make it better. I talk with my partner, I get therapy if needed, I’ll read books and talk to others, whatever I need to do so that I know I tried everything.
I stay committed until I I’ve tried what I can to save what I committed to. If I check in with myself and know there’s nothing more I can do, I move on.
When you make a commitment, walk into it feeling good about knowing it’s the right thing. And be open to being wrong about it. Now, that doesn’t mean you will be wrong, it just relieves you of the feeling that you never have any other choice ever again.
I highly encourage full commitment to whatever you commit to. In fact, it’s how you focus on accomplishing goals in life. Shortly after I met my girlfriend in 2006, I fully committed to being with her for the rest of my life. That meant I was going to do whatever it took to make the relationship work. If that meant I needed to see a shrink, I’d see a shrink, because I was committed.
That was the girl that eventually became my wife, then soon my ex-wife. Once I committed, I was willing to go the distance and do whatever I needed to do to make things work. When they didn’t work, I had to let it go. I believed I was committed forever, but then I had to come to the realization that staying committed was only hurting both of us.
When we split, we both had the realization that we weren’t committed enough to ourselves. She knew this before the divorce, I figured it out later. She chose to remember the commitment to herself, and honor that over her commitment to me. Yup, this hurt, but it was also the best decision she could make. Because if she felt as if her boundaries were being crossed, then she could never be herself around me.
Why would you want someone who was afraid to be themselves around you? You wouldn’t, would you? I’m sure some people would, because they like to control situations. But if you want someone to control, you will never get an authentic connection with them because they’ll be too busy pretending to be someone they aren’t.
But where were we? Oh yeah, “knowing is a box”. Ha ha, we took a little detour into commitments today, but for a good reason. A commitment to knowing you’re right can be very similar to a commitment to a person or a thing.
Think of something you “know” to be true, something that you are unwavering on. Let’s say you know your friend would never rob a bank. Would you be open to being wrong about that?
How about knowing your religious or spiritual beliefs are absolutely true. Are you open to other possibilities, maybe even disproving what you believe to be true?
I had a conversation with someone recently about reincarnation and past lives. As a critical thinker, I absolutely don’t believe in past lives. However, I am open to being wrong about that belief. Doing this keeps my mind open, because who am I to say that past lives don’t exist. I don’t know if they actually do or not, I just choose to believe they don’t.
I don’t “know” that they don’t, I just choose to believe that they don’t. Just like I choose to believe that affirmations don’t work when they feel like lies. Some people believe you can just keep affirming over the bad thoughts and feelings and those bad thoughts and feelings will dissolve. I don’t believe that, but I am open to being wrong about it.
You might think that this makes me non-committal in a way. In actuality, I’m so much more committed this way. Because I am 100% committed to a belief or an idea, and I am open to being wrong about what I’ve committed to, I am easily able to focus on what I need to do to accomplish my goals. This is because of one important understanding: I’ve released the resistance to being wrong.
Because I am willing to dive into something completely and commit, I am also willing to be wrong about what I’ve committed to. And because of that, I will continue moving forward knowing full well I could fail. What do you think of that?
If you can adopt the philosophy that you could fail, and it’s okay if you do, you will always succeed. You may not always succeed in the way you hope, but you will succeed in ways you probably couldn’t have predicted.
When you allow yourself to be wrong, you let go of controlling the outcome. When you know you can’t control the outcome, you instead focus on only the important stuff that you can control.
When I committed to writing a book, I went into it knowing it could be a dismal failure, but I was open to the failure just as much as the success. I even said “no” to a few other things that could have been more successful, but I chose to find out if this would fail or not.
What happens when you commit, knowing that you could succeed or fail either way, is you learn what works and what doesn’t. When you keep your mind open to any outcome, you learn what to do next time. When you close it, with only success in mind, you no longer enjoy the journey because you are dependent on external circumstances to make you happy.
I know this sounds like backwards thinking. We’re always told to focus on success and move forward with optimism. But that kind of thinking can set us up for failure. We go into something with positive thoughts and giant aspirations of success, but when we fail, we get miserable and may not want to try again because we never want to feel this bad again.
I once heard a great line in a training course. This was a training for telemarketers. I wasn’t a telemarketer, but I was listening to the class on audio because I wanted to know the psychology of some of the stuff they taught.
The teacher was addressing the fears of the telemarketers. And one of the biggest fears that came up over and over again was the fear of rejection. He addressed this brilliantly. Many people are afraid to get a “no” because it activates something inside of them that makes them feel unwanted, unloved, or even hated.
But the trainer told the class, “Don’t call people looking for a “yes”, call people with the intention to get as many ‘no’s as possible.”
The class was like, “Huh? That doesn’t make any sense.”
The teacher went on to say, “The more ‘no’s you get, the closer you are to getting a ‘yes’.”
When reframed that way, everyone got it. They realized that the idea is not to seek success, but to welcome failure, and allow success as a byproduct.
That doesn’t mean you seek failure, it’s just a shift in focus. When you laser focus on being successful, and you fail, you are less likely to continue seeking success. This is the downward spiral people run into a lot.
When you laser focus to find out how many times you can fail at all your ideas, you might be surprised to discover that you succeed by accident.
This is all just a philosophy, of course. I’m not saying “try to fail”, I’m just helping you adopt different patterns so that you will succeed by not trying.
I support those who aim for success and are able to fall down and get back up. Hey, if that’s you, keep going! Do what works, always. But if you’re the type of person that puts a lot of effort into aiming for success, but are crippled when you fall because you can’t handle the fact that you put all the time and energy into something and got nothing, or worse, lost everything, then maybe it’s time to develop a different philosophy.
Sometimes a shift in focus is all you need to succeed. Wouldn’t it be nice to succeed without even trying to?
Bring the commitment back to yourself. Commit to yourself to complete a goal or task. Honor yourself and “know” that no matter what you do, as long as you do it the best you can, and exhaust every avenue to make it work, you can look back and tell yourself that you left no stone unturned. Whether it failed or succeeded, you did your best. And you can simply get up and do something else.
Being open to being wrong is what keeps your mind active and looking for possibilities. When you bring possibilities into impossible situations, you become the creator of your reality.
If you’re an “I know” person, and really believe you know what you know, remember that you only know what you’ve learned so far. Saying “I know” to anything is like saying, “There is nothing more for me to learn about that subject”. It’s a limiting viewpoint and will eventually work against you, especially if you want to change how your life is turning out so far.
If you can look at your house, your friends, your family, your romantic life, and your bank account, and feel good through and through, then maybe you have the perfect formula, and you do “know” what you need to know.
But if any of those things are out of alignment, or could be better, then maybe saying “I know” is preventing you from knowing more. Keep the box open, or better yet, don’t create a box at all. Practice catching yourself. When you say “I know”, just follow it up with, “…but I don’t know everything.” The more you practice this, the more your mind will start to open to new ideas.
I really believed I “knew” what it took to be a good husband. I knew it! And yet, I was divorced after only 4 and a half years. Now, I know that I don’t know everything. And this is so much more liberating than being surprised when something happens that I didn’t believe was possible.
I love what Dr. David Eagleman, Neuroscientist and author, said in his Tedx talk. If you love to question your own beliefs about things, and are open to new ideas and new possibilities, I highly recommend you search for Dr. David Eagleman Tedx in youtube. That talk is right in line with what we discussed today.
Here’s a clip (audio clip – not transcribed. Original here)
This is how I want to end the show today, with the thought that we don’t know more than what we do know. The vastness of our ignorance is so much greater than we could ever imagine.
If we really believe we know what we know, then we limit our potential, and decrease our chances at being successful at many things. When NASA pointed a telescope to what appeared to be empty space, hoping to see a single star, what they found were galaxies full of millions of stars each. We really are a tiny blue dot in the universe, we don’t know so much, so we grasp on to what we believe to be true and create walls around it so we have some semblance of control and an idea of what and who we are.
When I think about what people have written and spoken over thousands of years, and how that information was passed down from generation to generation, I have to step back and remember that our perspective of what’s possible is limited by our own thought processes. But if I let go of what I believe is possible, and allow room for possibilities I don’t even know exist yet, I bring possibilities into impossible situations.
With every step you take, there’s more to learn. Don’t limit your potential by what you’ve experienced in your life; Let what you haven’t experienced yet keep your mind open to any possibility.
Thank you for listening to another episode of The Overwhelmed Brain. I thank Joe, Mike, Teddie, Julie, Ray, Nidvia, John, Jason, Sam, Michael, Charles, Holly, Wendy, Patricia, Judge, Annie, Sebastian, Caroline, Peggy, Angela, Joanne, Linda, Diane and all of those who’ve done reviews for my ebook in Amazon. Wow, I’m so grateful for everyone’s support.
Thank you all so much for your support of the show. And if I didn’t call your name, just know that I appreciate you and thank you for being there for me, listening, learning, and growing.
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I remember sitting in the car that day when my co-worker kept badgering me about how wrong I was. When I finally told him, “Would you just let me be wrong with dignity?” He got silent. And his body language shifted from aggressive, to passive, and he was suddenly joking with me and talking with me as if we were best friends. As if that original event never happened.
I could tell he suddenly felt bad for all the grief he gave me. We got along better after that, but I learned a valuable lesson. Even when I believe I’m 100% right about something, I’ll stay open to being wrong. I sometimes catch myself even today telling someone, “I know I’m right, uh, but you know, I better double check!”
Keep an open mind, so that when you look into the sky and really believe you see blue, you are prepared when someone tells you it’s not the sky that’s blue, it’s the light. Then, when you accept that as truth, maybe someone else will come up with yet another answer that is more true than the last one.
An open mind keeps your thought stream flowing, and prepares you for a world full of change. When you are adaptive and responsive to the world, and not closed-minded about what you believe you know, you’ll find success in almost anything you do.
And that is what I want for you. I believe that you can create any life you want. You have more potential than you could ever imagine, so let go of your limitations and discover what I already know to be true, that you are amazing.