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catharsis life-lessons personal-development philosophy self-improvement

You Have the Liberty to Change Your Opinions as You Evolve

Our opinions are not carved on stones

Photo by Justin Luebke on Unsplash

“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:

The process of catharsis explained in terms of software development analogy
Does an empty mind make you feel restless?

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.

Conclusion

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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catharsis life-lessons personal-development philosophy self-improvement

Analyzing Flow of Thoughts

To get a better understanding of what makes a person happy

Photo by Ümit Bulut on Unsplash

Some people are generally happy while others may not be. A part of the reason for this difference lies in the flow of thoughts. Based on a stimulus (or sometimes without stimulus), a certain thought comes to mind which in turn leads to another thought and it continues until we reach a thought associated with fear (or we get another stimulus that starts a different chain of thoughts). People who are generally happy will not easily encounter thought associated with fear in the chain of thoughts that he experiences.

What is a stimulus?

A stimulus may be defined as any perceptual event in the external environment which creates a chain of thoughts in our mind e.g. if a person is watching a movie on the television and suddenly hears a cry from his daughter in the other room. Then this cry from the child acts as the stimulus for the person, giving rise to a chain of thoughts starting from “whether the child fell from the bed?”. The next linked thought maybe — “Did it hurt her?” And then the thought “Is the hospital open at this time?” And so on. This flow of thoughts stops upon reaching a thought that has extreme fear associated with it or the person has encountered another stimulus that starts a separate chain of thoughts.

SDT vs SIT

  • SDT or Stimulus Dependent Thought: It refers to the chain of thoughts that arises due to external stimulus. The example in the previous section — The chain of thoughts arising due to “A cry from the child” is an example of SDT. Normally for SDT to happen the stimulus must be strong or the person must not be deeply involved in some activity. If a person is deeply involved in a certain activity and the stimulus is weak then it may not lead to SDT.
  • SIT or Stimulus Independent Thought: It refers to the chain of thoughts that are not triggered by any external stimulus. Normally it happens when the mind is empty or is involved in some mundane task. In such situations, at any time a chain of thoughts may arise and it is mainly guided by the overall issue bothering the person at that time e.g. if a person is going through a divorce then if he is doing a mundane task like brushing his teeth then suddenly a chain of thoughts related to the divorce may crop up in his mind. Such thoughts are called SIT.

General happiness

If the SDT or SIT does not contain thoughts that are associated with fear then the person is generally happy. An example is as follows:

  • Person A may see news of job cuts in a certain company and that leads to SDT and that chain of thoughts ends with the thought that he might also lose the job and may become bankrupt then he will feel uneasy and unhappy.
  • For Person B the SDT leads to a thought that in the worst case he may shift his job (because he knows he is capable of getting another job) and maybe that job will give better remuneration than his current job. This will lead the person B to be finally happy.

Thus based on the same stimulus entirely different end results can be obtained.

How to deal with fearful thoughts?

Be it SDT or SIT, if we encounter thoughts that are associated with fear then some inner work needs to be done. Catharsis plays a vital role in dealing with fearful thoughts. One should not neglect the fearful thought but should totally get engulfed into it and vent the fear out through various means such as fast breathing etc. This will help in removing the emotional charge associated with it. After this step, the belief responsible for the fear to happen in the first place needs to be analyzed and replaced with a better belief

An Example: If we are doing any mundane task and our mind is empty then SIT comes over and we think about losing the custody of our child after divorce then we should not neglect that thought. We should embrace it fully and vent out our frustration through fast breathing etc. After this, we can objectively analyze the situation and be just happy that what we want is the happiness of the child, and whether the child is with me or not is unimportant. After this even if we encounter the same thought of losing custody then it will not bother us. Details of catharsis have been explained in the following articles:

The process of catharsis explained in terms of software development analogy
Does an empty mind make you feel restless?

Conclusion

The flow of thoughts either stimulus-dependent or stimulus-independent, if it leads to fearful thoughts then we feel unhappy. The frequency of such fearful thoughts determines our general sense of happiness. If the frequency is high then we are generally unhappy otherwise we have a general sense of peace.

Upon encountering fearful thoughts we should not let it go but through catharsis work on it and remove the emotional charge associated with it so that the next time the same thought will not cause discomfort to us. Upon doing catharsis regularly we will definitely see that our general sense of happiness has increased.


Analyzing Flow of Thoughts was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Catharsis

On the merits of writing something heavy

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