multiethnic women having conflict at home

Holding On to Strong Opinions Will Only Harm You

Not taking a position when it presents itself is very hard. I feel like we were taught to choose sides. You can only be Republican or Democrat, religious or atheist, good or bad. In an increasingly polarized world, we are constantly told to choose a side. We fail to realize that these positions that we take are for things that are made up. Nature doesn’t choose. The sun shines on the wicked and the righteous. Having a strong opinion instead harms us because we start to believe that our position is right and we start to demean the other side to the point of violence and death. All for something we’ve made up in our head.

The Conflict Within the Mind

We don’t realize it, but our strong opinions only bring stress. We have the stress of making sure that we are on the right side by building up our defenses against the opposition. Not only do we have a battle against other people, but we have a battle within ourselves. When take up a rigid perspective, we start to have what is called cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is a physiological discomfort caused by holding conflicting beliefs. When confronted with opposing views are new information. You’d think we’d change our position in the face of new information, but after many battles within the mind, we typically stay stubborn to our dominant beliefs. The battle within and the battle without only leads to anxiety for the person who can easily let their opinion go.

The Conflict With Others

Have you had a conversation with someone who feels the need to defend their opinion at all costs? That was probably me if you argued with me a few years back. I know from experience that talking to a person who can’t even see the perspective of another person is exhausting. Their viewpoint is black and white with no wiggle room for grey. This person also may take offense to any viewpoint that you try to provide and will defend their point of view until death. Do you now see the battle that ensues?

This inflexibility will start to ruin relationships if you are not careful. Someone who has a rigid opinion of every topic is only saying that they are smarter than everyone else. Nobody likes a know-it-all. Empathy is also not an attribute to someone who holds strong positions. They are right and you are wrong. Even if that rightness harms another person’s well-being. The virtue of being correct is more important than anyone’s emotions. When someone can’t connect with another on an emotional basis, it becomes very difficult to form a relationship. We can be right all we want if we also enjoy being lonely. You do have your mind filled with opinions that can keep you company, I guess.

We are constant learners. A good amount of people would say that learning is just an accumulation of knowledge. For me, learning is the ability to take in another perspective. It’s not really about knowing facts as much as it is about being enlightened to a wider viewpoint. This is why we say that arguments aren’t a competition of right or wrong, but a way in which two different perspectives come together to learn from each other. I think that’s so much better than a fight.