Continuing down the road to self-realization – grab a piece of paper and join in

Thanks for returning for part two of this blog series about recognizing how our different mindsets can sometimes occur, oftentimes because of our own environmental experiences. If you recall last week I had challenged everyone to think about their childhood and the basic household chores we all have in our homes, and then to reflect about whose responsibility those chores were when you were a young child. I hope that was a good first step into understanding how deeply our belief systems are rooted in our subconscious. While the tasks I discussed are by no means life changing, they are an opportunity to begin to see how the simplest things can influence our belief systems.

Let’s take the next step down this road to realization. How many of you think that you are fairly open-minded, non-judgmental folks? Show of hands…..I would venture to guess that the majority of us believe that we work diligently to be accepting and open minded about our fellow human beings, and not throw all people of a specific sub-population into just one category. However, we are only as open minded as our environment. I don’t mean that we are failing or anything like that at all, what I mean is even those who believe they are the “most” open minded folks around are often taken back when I share this realization with them in a team building program.

Once again I want to ask you to sit back and answer some questions in your own mind, or jot the answers down for yourself on a piece of paper. This is just another opportunity to see how we are “stuck” in our idea of open mindedness, and hopefully is a chance for each of us to realize that no matter what, we – as humans – are only able to be as aware as the environment we live in allows us to be.

Here are the things I want you to jot down on your paper: Just jot the person’s initials down so you can keep these names straight as you go through this process. The only rule – each answer needs to be a different person, you cannot give more than one title to the same person in your life.

  1. Best Friend – the person who is your closest friend and confidant
  2. Role Model – this cannot be a famous person, this is asking for a person in your life that you have looked up to as you grew up. A person you know.
  3. Author – this is often challenging for those folks who aren’t big readers, but it can be your favorite author, tv news host, journalist, etc someone who’s writing is a part of your world.
  4. Colleague – this person is your “work best friend” the person at your job that you enjoy spending time with. If you work at home, it can be the person who consumes the majority of your conversation time. It cannot be the same person listed anywhere else in this list.
  5. Teacher – this is to be a memorable teacher – it can be your favorite teacher, or it can be the teacher that made you hate math or reading. An educator that made an impact on you.
  6. Worst “enemy” – notice that the word enemy is in quotes, I did that because I don’t want to suggest that you have actual enemies, but the best way for me to describe this person is – the person you dislike enough that if you were both at a gathering, you would go out of your way to not be in the same room as this person. An ex-spouse is a common name listed here.
  7. Worst person on the planet – this is the worst person EVER can be anyone you believe has been the WORST person to ever walk the earth, does NOT have to be someone you know.

Once you have these 7 people listed on your paper, I want to have you prepare to answer the following questions with a number range of how many of those folks fit into these categories.

  • How many of the people on your list were the same gender as you?
  • How many of the people on your list were the same race/ethnicity?
  • How many of the people on your list were from a similar family background? What this question can mean: it can be a similar family size, a rural family, a single parent family, a two parent household, it can also refer to socioeconomic status.
  • How many of the people have similar hobbies?
  • How many of the people would have similar descriptive words about themselves as you? For example, how many are a parent, student, baseball fan, biker, runner, grandparent, etc.

There’s a few of these questions that may be challenging to answer for the people on your list that you don’t know personally, if so, just leave them out of your count.

As you look at this, calculate how many of these questions were you able to answer that more than 4 of the folks from your list fit the criteria? How many were less than 4? The reason for the questions is to help each of us recognize our own mindsets and what level of open-mindedness we have. This is just a quick review of basic things, it’s not scientific, it’s not absolute, it’s just a way to help each of us realize that we are only as open-minded and non-judgmental as the people we are around. If the majority of the people on your list are similar to you, then your ability to see things from a point of view completely contrary to you is more challenging to accept as a person’s truth. Because in your world the majority of folks think/speak/believe the way you do. This was just meant to be an eye opener for each of us as we go into the Thanksgiving holiday week. Perhaps the reason that family member rubs you the wrong way is just because you both are seeing things from two different viewpoints. Try and recognize those small irritations this week, because it’s going to be a great way to lead into the next blog. Thanks for playing along – and have a very Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!