How open is your mind?

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I struggled with what to write about today. So I am going out on a ledge here and just writing what tumbled through my head as we took a walk today.

I recently attended a workshop that is aimed at helping our church select a new minister.

   So my thoughts today have been about how open is my mind really? I really thought I had a pretty open mind. But really leaving what you were raised with and embracing a totally different thought process is hard work. I doubt I will ever really be done working on that.  I am constantly having to stop and think and explore is this really how I feel.

           Some things I don’t struggle with. Somethings I fully embrace and leave behind the restrictions of the past. I fully embrace gay/lesbians getting married , having kids, being “gasp” normal people. I fully embrace people of all color and race and try to keep family members thoughts separate from my own. To look at each person as their own person not based on skin color. That while I would not consider myself atheist I would also not classify myself as a christian. The way we have been raised makes a difference. The whispers that run through our mind.  That’s what I struggle with the most. When will those whispers fully go away?

            The trick has been to know  when the whispers are your thoughts and when it is spoon-fed rhetoric that you were brought up on.Taking time to stop and examine each part of our lives, not just religious part, and accept and own how we feel.It took me years to really know how I felt about gays and lesbians. It was a hard subject to talk about because it was not talked about in any kind of positive light growing up. Neither was mental illness or poor people or black people or middle eastern people or other  religions.

              So openly talking about my own mental illnesses and looking at it and talking about it in a positive light. That has really stretched my boundaries and really opened my mind. Living with and adjusting to living with multiple invisible illnesses and being open to talking to others about that. The boundaries were again pushed.When our boundaries are pushed we are often uncomfortable. I know when I am uncomfortable I either get very grumpy or retreat into myself or both.

             Now when something makes me uncomfortable I tend to stop, think about why its making me uncomfortable. In the past my response was always to run. Run as fast and as far as I could from it. Deny it was happening. Deny that I felt that way. Now when something makes me uncomfortable ,that instinct to run is still there but also a curiosity. Do I know everything I need to know about that subject? Can I expand my knowledge of it? I have often found that finding unbiased information about whatever is making me uncomfortable is a great way to analyze how I really feel.How I feel….not how my parents feel….not how my closest friends feel…..how I feel.

I have found that where I thought I was open minded I am not so much. Where I thought I was narrow minded I am more open. Some of it surprises me. Some of it not so much.

So my end thought in all of this is that I plan on stretching my boundaries a bit more regularly than I have been. That as a parent I feel this is my responsibility to my daughter. Just as important as feeding and clothing her, so is enriching my mind and really embracing what I believe in with knowledge. That maybe if she sees me doing this and being open about how it makes me feel, it will help her to do the same. That she won’t think that when you are an adult you stop growing, stop learning.  So that maybe she won’t have those whispers to distinguish between her thoughts and other thoughts. So that maybe her first instinct is not to judge.

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12 responses »

  1. That’s the process, Chronnie! I try to do the same thing (with varied succes, i’ll admit) – if it makes me angry or uncomfortable – WHY – am I being unreasonable? I love your questions about is it my own thoughts or is it rhetoric? Hard to differentiate at times, but important to think about, for sure.

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    • Thank you. I am always so concerned about the rhetoric part. I was shocked when I first started taking a closer look how much of my thoughts was rhetoric that I really didn’t believe that.

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  2. Not a criticism, but a helpful suggestion; saying that you accept gays/lesbians as “normal people” could come across as offensive. They ARE normal people, they just love a gender that an decreasingly small population of people don’t accept. I have many homosexual (which is really how you should address gay/lesbian) friends who live normal lives and are completely normal people. Saying they live “normal lives” is akin to putting them in the stereotype that people who are uncomfortable and disapproving of their lifestyle already assume of them. (ie: they’re pedophiles, want to have sex with all men/women, are deviants; not including the less harmful ones like the overly flamboyant gay male, all lesbians are butch, etc . . . ) It sets them up to feel uncomfortable, because you’re assigning something to them.

    I think it would have been simpler to write that they are -people-, because really, I haven’t met a textbook “normal” human yet. By saying they are people, it takes away all of that pre-context and humanizes them. This is true for all humans. Black people, poor people, however people identify a group of individuals; it gives the people who fear/hate/are uncomfortable with power to dehumanize and devalue them.
    On the reverse, I believe that groups shouldn’t identify themselves by those same labels, either. We are all human when you peel back all of those labels. It’s too easy to be blinded by those labels, which can be very dangerous. By dehumanizing someone through labels, it’s easier for people to do bad things in the name of their beliefs. However, human to human, no labels, it makes it incredibly difficult to do bad things to another person. Only true sociopaths are able to kill/harm with so little regard.

    So, just a little tip, for the next time. It’s not something widely discussed, even amongst those who haven’t had the same past you had. I just happen to have a degree that entailed a lot of study in human behavior, society and social labels; among other interesting topics, and am in the process of getting a joint Masters/Law Degree in Human/Civil Rights. Not sure how that’s going to pan out with my fibro progressively getting worse. I guess worst case scenario, I paid for a really expensive wall certificate 😉

    Hope you don’t take offense to my input, it wasn’t my intent to come across that way. I’d rather inform people and have open dialogue; than see people with good intentions say something that could potentially be perceived as offensive, and have trouble on their hands. (If that makes any sense.)

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    • I kinda think you read into that a bit more than was intended but thanks for the input. that was what the Gasp normal people. was to send across… That I do see them as normal people but that not everybody does …

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  3. I’m sorry, but I have quite a few friends who prefer to be called anything but “homosexual”. Instead of saying she had homosexual friends (which labels them and makes her sound worse) she should have said she has friends who happen to be gay. And no amount of education or fancy certificates makes one person any more correct in their terminology. I do agree that they should be called “people”. They are just that. People. Sexual preference has nothing to do with it.

    Side note, excellent blog as usual, Chronnie!

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  4. As a lesbian, my first impression is the whispers were the whole point and I am not offended. It is how we struggle with our own individualization especially as it differs from our parental and early learning experience. I was Catholic. I am not now. I feel the whispers of the rhetoric that simply no longer apply but feel as though it does. I hope to continue learning as we continue learning not to judge and be a little easier on ourselves. Good Job young lady.

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  5. i love this post ( like most of yours! )! i have gotten obsessively introspective as the result of mental and physical illness, but i reflect on *me* and my external relation to *my* world. your post reminded me that there are other refractions i need to examine as ripples in the back of my mind. i too am no longer the religion i was raised, and as a previous commenter mentioned in a pretty self-absorbed diatribe, i feel like a “normal” person despite my sexual deviation. i happen to know my lesbian, ex-catholic, African-Canadian friend above this comment through this blog, and i’m happy to have made friends with her, despite the fact that, yes, i think of her “labels.” i was born to be a librarian, we like labels. i freely label, and that’s one thing i am actually fine with. i label myself as parent, lover, and librarian, chiefly, and i’m thrilled with that.

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  6. Well. For people who are “open minded”, this was a welcome to a first time poster. Which is why I made a point to explain my reason/interest in posting and one of the reasons I repeatedly wanted to make sure that Chronnie didn’t feel like what I was saying was meant as an attack on her. The second reason I wanted to make sure is because I understand that sometimes my writing can come across as condescending, and not how I intend it to when it’s coming out in my head. Instead, I come back to attacks, rather than open dialogue and a personal attack from the poster above.

    My -only- intent was to pass on that any group of people that has been labeled by society for being different only want to be known as people. That even referring to them as *gasp* normal, is still somewhat problematic. Implying normal means that there was/is something wrong to begin with. Any human being just wants to be a person, that is all. And any human wants to be treated like one, too. Something that seems to be lost on some of you in your replies.

    I’ve enjoyed your blog, Chronnie. I sympathize with what you’re going through, as a fibro and anxiety sufferer, too. I’ve quietly cheered you on. I decided to finally post a comment, and I get personally attacked by other followers. Apparently, this isn’t an open and supportive environment. I’m willing to admit I may have come across in the wrong light. But I don’t think it deserved the closed and negative dialogue response that was returned by your followers.

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    • I can understand what you are saying but at the same time….when you do post….it is open for discussion. not just with me but with other followers. In all honesty I debated on whether or not to approve the initial comment and decided if I am going to be open and honest to post it. Honestly I didn’t like it but still felt you serserved to say what you felt.

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  7. Agreed. I understood that when I made my comment that it would illicit response, that it’s open for discussion. However, open dialogue, which is what I was seeking, as I know it is something we -all- have had issue with; either through how we were raised, or how we are treated, is completely different from a comment open for ridicule. It means not attacking people. It’s positive discussion of a subject where everyone learns something, shares their thoughts, and can feel free to say something without beating down another person. It’s supportive and meant to foster growth. I just thought it would be something some of your readers who were going through what you struggled with, or were in various stages, might be interested in.

    At least, the other blogs that I follow, that’s the kind of open dialogue we have. So, I apologize for saying a little bit about myself and my interest in the topic; god forbid, as a new commenter I want you to know something about me, and also explain that my writing can come across as cold and academic (but, that’s the life/writing style I’m living right now). But never did I expect to be called self-centered or self-righteous – which I am the the furthest thing from either of the two. My intent wasn’t even to insult you, Chronnie, or -anyone-.

    I’m through with apologizing though. I was sincere in the first post, when I said that I hoped that there was no offense taken. Considering I’m the one that is being forced to apologize when I never intended to insult anyone; yet the people who directly insulted me sit free-and-clear, I think that perhaps I’m an outsider looking into a clique. No matter how many times I apologize, it won’t change a thing.

    You’ve all labeled me and proven my point. Labels close minds about the real person. No matter what I do, I’m someone in your world here non-deserving. I get it. I know how open your minds really are.

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  8. I just hope you understand, rather, some of your posters; that when you make negative assumptions about someone based on one interaction, you do label them in a bad way. An interloper, someone who is undeserving of the polite way of disagreement.

    It’s one thing to self-label. It’s empowering to self-label. But when you label others, it’s demeaning and dehumanizing. That’s the point I was trying to make. It’s the negative labels that others give people that are dangerous. This has been a perfect experience.

    And of course I felt like I had to apologize. As I’ve said, my intent was to not offend you. A fact I’ve made clear numerous times. It’s also because of the response and name-calling from some of your followers. My response back to you hasn’t been in frustration at you. It’s at how others perceived things. Whatever. I’m sure everyone has been enjoying the “crazy” lady. So, there’s nothing more that I can say.

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