You’re Allowed To Change Your Mind

It’s hard to change your mind, isn’t it?

Humans really don’t like doing it. We love stability, consistency, knowing what to expect — both from ourselves and from others.

So when we’re presented with new information, incontrovertible evidence that we were wrong, or even just a novel idea, things get uncomfortable, quickly.

Cognitive dissonance — the discomfort that comes from having to contend with contradictory information or ideas — is great at keeping us in our familiar little boxes.

It’s the voice in your head yelling HELL NO PEOPLE WILL JUDGE YOU when you wonder if maybe you should change your mind about something.

It’s the nauseous feeling when you think about conversations explaining why you no longer believe what you did.

It’s the cold panic that washes over you when you realise you might have to admit you were wrong.

So don’t worry if changing your mind is hard. Your wiring ain’t about it.

Unfortunately, change is how growth happens, and so we need to figure out at least a couple of strategies for dealing with this cascade of terror, or we risk becoming horrible, bitter old caricatures of ourselves.

Writing is my favourite option for this. (Surprise!)

Here’s why. Writing is…

1) the place where you can safely unpack the idea that you could, maybe, possibly, need to change your mind, you know, just about something small
2) the place where you can safely explore what that change might entail
3) the place where you can safely figure out how you might start to make that change a reality.

The key here is that writing is safe.

If you’re keeping your writing private (and this type of writing should always be private), then you’re free to investigate all the options — even the ones that would leave you broke, alone, or maybe in prison.

You can play out all the different scenarios consequence-free until you find the one that feels right to you.

‘Right’ might not be comfortable, but it’s the scenario with the outcome you want and the consequences you’re willing to face in exchange.

There’s no other strategy I can think of that allows this kind of flexibility. I certainly can’t just think through all the possibilities of a given situation — there are always too many variables, especially if you’re comparing different courses of action.

Writing it all out shrinks the decision space to something tangible you can actually grapple with, instead of being this huge, amorphous cloud of poorly-defined possibilities.

As much as is possible, it gives you control over what this change will mean for you. It allows you to make sure the change leads to positive growth, rather than becoming a problem.

So if change is headed your way, grab your journal and pen, and head out to meet it. You get to decide what change means for you, and the page is there waiting for you to make the call.