Your mindset can make you question all your habits and subscribe to a mental shift in perspectives. It can also stop you from doing anything at all. Your mindset can render you powerless in the face of new learning and make you impervious to change.
The origin of your Mindset
We can break this word in two because it is indeed a compound word: Mind and set. The cognitive faculties that make up what we call the mind is housed in the brain. Our mind is the seat of thought and the origin of inclination and desires. Your actions are a result of your thoughts. All your senses are connected to the mind. You taste because your mind can connect the food in your mouth to a sensation in your memory bank. You hear and see because your mind receives transmissions and interprets these messages through receptors.
No wonder when a person acts out of the ordinary, they are asked if they are “out of their mind!” One theory of the mind is that which separates mind and body, and presents the mind as beyond the physical. This is Dualism. People who subscribe to dualism will tell you that the mind transcends the body, they say that the mental phenomena are, in some respects, non-physical in nature.
This can help explain why our mind is already made up long before we physically exhibit certain traits or carry out actions. People often ask for advice because they want to make up their minds. They want to know if other people have gone through same experiences. Also, they are interested in knowing if other people’s thoughts match theirs. If a lot of people they care about have mindsets similar to theirs, they are comfortable. If not, they debate whether they should change their mind or go against them and which would be in their best interests. Therefore, a mindset is reinforced or destroyed by the people we admire or choose to surround ourselves with.
Mindset defined and redefined
I have often heard people say on social media platforms that everyone should be free to think and say whatever they believe. They believe in freethinking and free speech and frown at anyone who wants to censor their thoughts. This is a good mindset in theory but rather difficult in practice. This is because our experiences have helped shaped our minds to think in particular ways. And so when people say things that go against our thinking, we take it personally. We take it personally because it is an attack on our mind. Especially,when our mind is set.
For example, when people’s ideological believes are questioned, they may react violently. You may have witnessed this if you have ever said anything contrary to feminist, homosexual or religious thought. You may stop and wonder if people lack basic comprehension skills or whether they cannot think for themselves. The simple answer is that they have already subscribed to a group think, a mindset. They will keep thinking in this way until their subscription to that mindset expires.
So, your mindset is a sum of habits, attitudes, and believes which you have, over time, come to accept as defining who you are. The longer you have held on to certain believes the more your mind is set in acting according to the dictates of that believe. For indeed that is how the mind works. Thoughts are reinforced until we are set in our ways. Our mind is set the same way a fish is bent into shape and grilled or roasted. Like fish, we can only be bent when we are wet. When we have been smoked any attempt to change our shape leads to our being broken.
A Mind Reset
Humans are not fish, but we can take a lesson from fishes. For one thing, fishes know that their survival depends on staying in water. We develop mindsets through soaking ourselves in the waters of knowledge. But, we also change mindsets by continuing to swim in the ocean of knowledge.
We cannot afford to get out of the waters of knowledge because to leave the waters is to stop growing and to stop growing is to die. The waters are what we fill our minds with: the books we read, the music we listen to, the TV shows we watch, the podcasts we listen to, the YouTube channels we subscribe to, the friends we keep, the people we follow on social media.
Just as a fish would need to be careful and avoid swimming in troubled waters lest it ends up broken in someone’s plate, we need to be careful the kind of waters we swim in. What we fill our minds with can lead us to troubled waters. We may end up swallowed by bigger fishes of thought or hooked to unclean habits. Our minds might even end up atrophied – unable to absorb anything new because their mindset does not support an open mind.
Keeping testing how your mind is set
As waters flow, we should make it a priority to always check how our mind is set. One way to ensure that we are swimming in the right direction is to mentally remove ourselves from situations, take a step back, and look at it as a disinterested party. Listen to what both sides are saying. This might be difficult, even annoying. But how do you convince yourself that you have taken the best stand if you have not opened your mind to conflicting thought.
The justification for taking a stand should be that you have submitted it to rigorous scrutiny and discovered that it is the best position to take at the given time. It helps a lot if you have the right foundation of principles to stand on. For example, how are you sure there is a God if you have not listened to a person argue logically that there is no God? This is why, a person who has been holding tenaciously to a mind set will suddenly claim they have seen the light. Their mindset was simply not anchored on the solid foundation of scrutinised thought.
So, each time an issue that requires your taking a stand comes up, ask yourself: Why am I taking this stand? Why do I agree with this? On what principle am I basing my stand? You might see a need to shift your mindset.