“Fight for the things you believe in,” these are words often heard from the wise old teachers in movies whenever they’re giving advice to their young apprentices. These apprentices would then go follow this advice and go on to become—as if by some perfect alignment of fate—everything they ever dreamed of. On the surface, it seems to be very simple and straightforward: never change your mind, always stand up for your opinion, and you’ll succeed in the end. However, with at least seven billion people in the real world, we’re likely to come across individuals with different or opposing perspectives. And though it is hard to admit, ours may not always be the perspective we need to follow in order to succeed.
Friendship is a mundane yet evident example. Despite our shared experiences, we still don’t always see eye-to-eye. When arguments arise, we resort to relentlessly—and at times, immaturely—defending ourselves and the things we believe in. It’s challenging to have other people battle our firm beliefs, especially ones we’ve held for a long time. When our friends hand us evidence against our initial opinions, it can become overwhelming, and we end up either blocking out new information that can bring light to issues or responding negatively from a place of frustration.
In the grand scheme of things, refusing to consider other people’s opinions can lead to bigger consequences. Larger institutions such as organizations, corporations, and even our government have thousands of people with different perspectives. Some of these people have valuable ideas that can be essential to the institution’s growth and success. However, a lot of these ideas can get brushed off because of the close-mindedness of its leaders and decision makers.
If there’s an advantage in considering other people’s perspectives, why do most of us still find it hard to reevaluate our own? According to psychologists, when we’re faced with information, our brains are likely to build a set response; this becomes our opinion. Once we form our opinion on something, we will keep going back to the same pattern of response whenever the subject matter is brought up. Unless we recognize this pattern, our human minds are unlikely to change them. There is also something called “confirmation bias” where we pick out pieces of information and only look at those that confirm our beliefs. This is the reason why we still stick to our old beliefs despite being shown research or evidence against it.
Since opinions and impressions are automatically formed by our brains upon being exposed to information, most of them are premature and have little basis. This is where other people’s ideas come in. Perhaps others have a deeper grasp of concepts because they’ve studied it more thoroughly. Their opinions may also come from having more personal experience. These can be valuable in expanding our understanding of issues. We need to accept that refusing to listen to other people’s opinion is tantamount to refusing to learn from them. Our personal biases can push us to limit our knowledge. Moreover, the desire to always be right can cloud our judgment and can lead us to make the wrong decisions. If we recognize the psychological patterns that are hindering us from keeping an open mind, we can enable ourselves to an endless pool of information that can be valuable to our personal growth and success.
When I was younger, I used to think that I can win any argument as long as I fought for what I believed to be correct. I never backed down. Often, I would continue fighting despite the other person’s valid points. Looking back at those arguments, I realize that my desire to be right had caused me to overlook a lot of ideas that could’ve been helpful to my cause. My stubbornness to see things from another person’s point of view had stopped me from what I really needed—to learn and to grow.
Truths are fleeting, realities will keep on changing. Having the firmness to always stick to your original point of view despite these changes is undiscountably admirable. Heroes and martyrs are remembered for their strong convictions, and growing up we were taught to be just like them—adamant and unchangeable. However, there is also a real courage in the ability to change your mind. Some pills are harder to swallow, especially ones that go against our initial convictions, but they may be exactly what we need to be better and to succeed.