Brittle beliefs are easy to change

January 30, 2014 by Joshua
in Awareness

Do you ever find yourself in an argument, debate, or just disagreement with someone who won’t budge? They can be frustrating. You wish they would at least recognize others might have different points of view but they don’t.

I’ve adopted a belief that has served me well in such situations:

Brittle beliefs are easy to change.

This belief serves me in a few ways. First, it leads me to identify their beliefs as brittle, as opposed to strong or firm. Strong and firm admit some flexibility, which are both easier to work with since people with strong or firm beliefs don’t seem so self-righteous. Second, believing their beliefs are easy to change leads me to expect progress at some point, not to give up hope because I see no change. After all, brittle things that don’t seem to give shatter when they do. Effective persistence can lead to significant change. You might open someone’s perspective in ways they couldn’t conceive before. Third, this model is consistent with my belief that “all models are flawed but inevitable.”

There’s more to this belief than just persuading others. Often you are the person with the brittle beliefs who stubbornly won’t accept alternative perspectives. I speak from experience we’re probably all familiar with. Seeing how others resist change until overwhelmed and then having to accept violent change helps us see how to open ourselves to change earlier to spare ourselves that violence. It requires self-awareness and teaches it too.

The most valuable part I see in working with others with inflexible beliefs is it teaching you flexibility.

Let me know how that belief works for you.

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