I’ve spent a lot of time as of late thinking about how to change someone’s mind. Not how to change their mind on a topic, or on an argument, but how to fundamentally change their perspective. I see a lot of people out there with unhealthy mindsets, whether they be depressive, arrogant, or otherwise. I think back in my own experience to how I got out of my unhealthy mind, and I find that it’s pretty incredible that it happened at all.
I think fundamentally what helped me get out of it was keeping myself open to other possibilities. And yet, if you are in an unhealthy mindset, this can be very difficult; you aren’t going to believe that things will be better if you are in a depressive mindset, because that statement fundamentally conflicts with what you currently believe, thus generating cognitive dissonance.
So how do we avoid this cognitive dissonance barrier and get people out of these states? I believe the best answer is to do it over the long-term and focus on making incremental changes. This relates to how my own progress came about, and so I believe it could be a model that would help others as well. For example, if we instead ask the person in a depressive mindset to think about simple things like cute puppies or a good joke every time they get upset, and then slowly move that over to “well look at all these people who went through the same thing that you are going through, and got out fine” then move to “look at these charts that say the world is getting better” and then maybe, just maybe, you’ll see their mind open and begin to take on better ways of looking at the world.
Now that’s just an example, and I’ll be the first to admit that those specific steps probably wouldn’t work. Finding out a strategy that will work I leave to the reader to consider. Another big caveat (and I’ll mention this since I’ve been focusing specifically on the depressive mindset, though there are many different types of mindsets one could consider unhealthy) is that this will not work with mindsets that are caused by disorders based on chemical imbalances, as those are caused by circumstances far beyond the individual’s control and my area of expertise.
I’d also be interested in anyone else’s opinion on this theory – if you do have one, feel free to post it I the comments below. You can also (as always) take out my Twitter for more miscellaneous musings.