Our opinions are not carved on stones
“You have changed”
“You are not the same person”
These sentences normally have a negative connotation associated with it.
We form a friendship with someone based on what opinions we have on various aspects of society and life in general. But we do evolve with time and hence our opinions also will change. If the friend is also following the same evolutionary path then maybe even at a different stage in life, the evolved opinions may still match and we may remain friends. But if there is a mismatch then the very foundation on which the friendship was formed, will be destroyed and our relationship may change to just being an acquaintance.
People do change with time
“Change is the only constant”
As people gain experiences in life they challenge earlier beliefs that hinder progress in the current stage of their life. In such situations, they formulate a different opinion and start to believe it e.g. A person may have considered marriage as sacred earlier. Any affair before or after marriage was looked down upon. But with time a realization may come that marriage is just a social construct to fulfill some basic needs of a person. There is nothing sacred about it and hence the opinion that ‘pre-marital affairs are bad’ may change for the person.
Problem with the change of opinion
“If not addressed in a proper manner, change in the opinion of a person may create a split personality”
Our mind has an incredible ability to hold conflicting beliefs e.g. When we try to change the belief that the color of the skin is not important then we may not fully internalize it. Based on our previous incidents in life we cannot completely get rid of the earlier belief. This will lead us to have both the beliefs simultaneously.
People sense this double standard in a person and is one of the major reasons why a person changing his/her opinion is treated with contempt. I remember Hillary Clinton being treated as a lier as she earlier held and opinion against the LGBT community and later changed it. I am not sure if she worked on herself as explained in the next section, otherwise, this contempt may actually be a reflection of her holding conflicting beliefs.
Catharsis to the rescue
To address the issue of holding contradictory beliefs simultaneously, one should apply the process of catharsis. In this, one should first engulf oneself in the fear associated with the incidents related to earlier beliefs and vent it out through various means such as fast breathing, etc. This will remove the emotional charge associated with those incidents and the person will be able to internalize the new belief in a better manner.
If we do not work on the earlier incidents then when encountered with stimulus triggering subconscious mind to go to those incidents, one may feel uneasy and may revert back to the older belief. But if a person applies the process of catharsis and removes all negative emotions associated with older beliefs then he is an actually changed person and we have no reason to have contempt against him.
Details of catharsis have been explained in the following articles:
Our insecurities also restrict others from changing
We have our own vested interest in friendship or being a follower of some politician. If the friend or politician changes his opinion then we will have no reason to maintain a friendship or follow the politician. Thus to counter this so-called loss we vehemently oppose the other person who changes his opinion. This puts extra pressure on the other person from changing himself.
Recently I was going through an interview of a politician where he was criticized for praising a member of the opposite party, more than 10 years ago. The politician became angry at that questioner and vehemently opposed praising the member of the opposite party at any point in time.
This interview gave an indication that since the career of a politician is dependent upon the followers so he should always hold beliefs and opinions which is approved by the followers. This makes it difficult for him to have a past in which he held a contradictory opinion. If the politician has dealt with his past beliefs and opinions in an extensive manner (by applying the process of catharsis) then his past should not be a cause of worry. We should accept him as he is in the present.
Change is inevitable. As we experience life, we change our opinions and hence evolve into a better person. But this process of change of opinion should be done in a proper manner by applying the process of catharsis on incidents related to earlier beliefs and thus removing the emotional charge associated with them. This will help in not creating a split personality in us and we will be accepted more easily by others. For people who cannot cope up with our change of opinion, it is better to let them go, or else they will act as a hindrance to our growth process. Remember, there are very few truths in life, rest all opinions should keep changing as the society and the individual evolves.
You Have the Liberty to Change Your Opinions as You Evolve was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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