Many hotels have a wonderful tool that allows you to sleep without interruption. Yes I am referring to the humble but very effective ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign. All you have to do is hang this outside your door and you will be left alone for as long as you desire. Dr. Emmet Fox, a well known Thought Leader from the early 1930’s said “some people appear to have hung ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs on their brains; they deeply resent anything like a new idea, or even a new and better way of considering familiar things.”
Change is very uncomfortable. In learned and patterned behaviours it’s difficult to move from one way of doing something to another without a fight. I think of a simple act of peeling vegetables. I grew up in a home where my mother always insisted on placing a small bag in the sink and collecting the scraps from the potatoes or carrots so that you didn’t make ‘more work.’ And so I find it hard to accept anyone who just peels ‘haphazardly’ onto a sink of dishes – for instance. Does this make my way, right or wrong? I don’t know. But what I do know is that I do ‘feel’ that I am right. Whenever I see someone not doing it my way, I want to correct them, and show them how to do it.
This is the assumption Dr. Marcia Reynolds, author of Outsmart Your Brain and Wander Woman, calls “There is a right answer and it is mine (what are you blind?)” If other people challenge your point of view, you immediately get on the defensive and consider their view wrong.
Everyone by now knows the meaning of assume. We have all been exposed to the person who has to show us up in conversation and prove that anything we do, they can do better. Yet when our DND sign is on our brain we pretty much operate in the same way. Think about the many ways that we hurt ourselves when we resent new ideas or make assumptions.
We constantly have to be on the defensive. Once someone disagrees with us we think that we can no longer trust them and begin putting some distance in the relationship. To bolster our ‘rightness’ we talk behind their backs and get others to see our point of view to prove how wrong ‘they’ are.
Come on – fess up! Think back to the last ‘woe is me’ victim-like conversation you had. This however never makes you feel any better. At best it leaves you drained and saddled with feelings of, in addition to your resentment, – guilt – now that you’ve gossiped!
Being closed minded hurts our relationships and always being right is a heavy responsibility to bear. It is almost like a second job, when you have to constantly work at discounting other people’s ideas. Why then if being right is so painful, do we continue to hold on to this less than pleasant aspect of our persona? Quite simply – being the one who always knows has become foundational to who we think we are and so it is difficult to let go of easily.
How does opening up your mind to the possibility that someone else could come up with a useful idea or breakthrough solution look? Dr. Reynolds tells an interesting story. “I was complaining to my coach about how my boss disrespected me by forcing me to accept his ideas without hearing mine when she explained that he was doing his best with the amount of light he had; his light was small while mine was large.
I loved that explanation until she added, “Now, you have the responsibility to model what big light looks like.” From that day forward, I slowed down my negative reactions to his contrary ideas. Funny thing – when I quieted my defensive mind enough to hear him out, I found some interesting kernels in what he proposed. When I began acknowledging his ideas, he in turn asked to hear mine, which he then praised. “
Today is the day to snap out of your semi-coma, repeating time worn phrases and only your ideas. Don’t let your consciousness lie dormant. Remove your DND sign and begin to realize that life can be so much easier and healthier when you can accept the points of view of others and when you are not always RIGHT.