Challenge Your Beliefs

One of the books I am currently reading is Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn.

Out of the 45 books I have read this year it is probably one of the most challenging for me.

It presents an argument contrary to how I was raised and many of my current beliefs on parenting.

The book challenges me to ask myself REALLY hard questions like, “Are my parenting methods potentially damaging for my child?”.

I have a really hard time with many of Kohn’s arguments, but I have found the experience to be beneficial for me.

Anytime our beliefs are challenged we can easily go into defense mode, but I have done my best to approach his argument with an open mind.

Affirming our beliefs with arguments in line with our own thinking is important, but we still need to be open to opportunities to challenge those beliefs with contrasting views.

“Studies show that forming strong opinions causes activity in the reticular activating system, which is located at the base of the skull. This neurological activity produces a mental state in which one can see only what he or she has predetermined. Your mind selectively processes information that confirms your perception while ignoring data that is contrary to your point of view.”

-James B. Richards How to Stop the Pain

We see this in people who only watch and listen to a news media that openly seeks to affirm their conservative or liberal perspective.

Nobody wants to be wrong.

We want to be right!

So it is only natural to want to listen to news sources, read books, and spend time with friends that share similar beliefs.

Yet, we need have an open mind when we have the opportunity to read, listen, and engage with people that share a view that does not agree with our own.

After this experience two good things can happen:

1) Our beliefs will be unchanged and we will only be more affirmed in our thinking.

2) Our beliefs will be changed and we will have learned something meaningful and potentially life changing.

Or maybe you will just end up feeling like I am at the moment…

Really confused on how to be a good parent to a 2 year old!

Right now, the only thing I know for sure is that nobody knows for sure.

And if they believe they have all the answers then they don’t have any children of their own!

The bottom line: It is far more important to know what is right than to think we are right.

-J.P. Nerbun