It has been mentioned often enough that emotional intelligence is critical to success in life, and today we would like to discuss one aspect of emotional intelligence which can keep you on a trajectory of growth on your path to success.
But first, what is emotional intelligence? Put simply, it refers to one’s ability to recognize and regulate their emotions and those of others. For example, an emotionally intelligent person can recognize their own enthusiasm for something and then speak to team members in a way that inspires them to strive for the attainment of that goal.
What is the rule of rethinking?
The rule of rethinking refers to a tendency to pause and reconsider views, perspectives, beliefs and approaches that differ from your own. By nature, humans are wired to immediately reject or dismiss opinions, perspectives and beliefs which differ from our own.
This ‘instinctive’ urge to reject what we don’t agree with can hold us back from making progress and from living harmoniously with those around us. For example, someone whose religious beliefs are against the eating of certain types of meat/animals may try to compel those around them not to eat those animals.
The rule of rethinking comes in at this point and helps us to take a more logical look at what the other person has to say. When implemented regularly, the rule of rethinking can help us evolve or adapt as more evidence is presented to us in contradiction of what we thought.
Why don’t we practice the rule of rethinking by default?
There are two key reasons why implementing the rule of rethinking doesn’t come automatically to everyone. The first reason is that human beings are emotional creatures, and we get strongly attached to our beliefs. This emotional attachment to our beliefs can get so strong that those beliefs become our identity and we face an ‘existential threat’ when those beliefs are challenged.
The second key reason why rethinking isn’t automatic is that we hate to be wrong. It is an ego thing. Admitting that you are wrong means that your ego takes a hit and your perceived sense of self will diminish by a notch or two. That is why many people resist accepting a different point of view even in the face of overwhelming evidence.
It therefore takes great effort to train yourself to practice the rule of rethinking in your day-to-day life professionally or in non-professional settings.
Embrace scientific thinking
It is important that we train ourselves to think like scientists. This doesn’t mean that you go back to school and specialize in a science discipline. What it means is that we train our minds to value learning over and above the need to prove that we are right. This calls for the humility of admitting we don’t authoritatively know everything, and admitting that we could be wrong from time to time.
If you have watched any detective or investigative show, you know that investigators try to avoid having any assumptions or preconceived theories about what happened. Instead, they start collecting evidence, analyze that evidence, and then piece together a story from the proof provided by the evidence. This is scientific thinking, and it allows investigators to keep testing different alternative explanations until the right one emerges.
In ordinary life, we all have our beliefs about different things. Scientific thinking can help us to avoid letting our beliefs cloud our judgment, and we can pause and think without bias about new concepts or beliefs that differ from our own.
Steps to practicing the rule of rethinking
The task of training our minds to implement the rule of rethinking is easier said than done, but with dedicated effort it can be achieved and you will put yourself firmly on a path of growth.
The first thing that you need to do when confronted by a view that contrasts with yours is to ask yourself a number of open-ended questions. These questions may include;
- What are the facts, and am I aware of all of them?
- Why am I passionate about my belief on this matter?
- Is there something I haven’t remembered correctly?
- Do I just want to be correct or my belief is justifiable?
- My thoughts on this matter notwithstanding, is there anything I can learn from this alternative viewpoint?
One major advantage of taking the time to ask yourself questions like those above is that your mind will look more logically at the matter instead of your emotions remaining in control. As a result of taking an objective look at the subject, it is possible that the logic behind it will persuade you to change your mind.
Is it all wasted when you consider the question above and still remain unconvinced? Not really; you see, you will score major points from the person you are interacting with because they will see that you made an honest effort to look at things from their perspective. You listened objectively, and that is often all that is needed. People want to be listened to.
The second step to making the rule of rethinking part of you is by repeating the statement “Sometimes I am wrong” several times each day. As you keep repeatedly saying that statement aloud, your subconscious mind will pick up on it and you will become more open to changing your views on different subjects. Your ego will no longer be badly bruised when presented with evidence that your earlier view was wrong, and you will experience growth as a result of acknowledging that sometimes you can be wrong.
Summing it up…
The rule of rethinking is more important today than it ever was. Change is happening at a fast pace, and our beliefs or ideas about how things should be are constantly being challenged. To survive in this environment, we need to unshackle our mind from all the rigidities we have developed over time, and the rule of rethinking can be a valuable guide in helping us understand and navigate the changes around us. Remember, if you aren’t growing, you are dying. Choose growth!
To Your Success,