Mindset

You and I hear this word often, along with ‘ideology’ and perhaps ‘philosophy’.

Someone for example has a certain ‘mindset’.

But what does this mean? We often gloss over this word as most people do, thinking that they understand its meaning.

Our ‘mindset’ is really a way of describing the way that you and I interpret all that’s going on around us – how we see ‘the world’ or just a part of it.

You see, you and I create our ‘mindset’ from all the beliefs, ideas, philosophies and so on, to which we subscribe.

It also includes elements of our experience and knowledge and is used to help understand and incorporate new knowledge and experience.

Mindset is not however the same thing as wisdom.

Wisdom is more about what you and I know from experience and learning; mindset will influence how we apply that wisdom according to our current ‘set’ of beliefs and understandings.

‘Ideology’, like ‘methodology’, was originally used to describe the study of ideas (or methods). Now though, both words have come to mean something else.

Ideology is now defined as a noun meaning a set of specific ideas and beliefs, together perhaps with a particular philosophy.

There’s another one, ‘philosophy’ was originally the study of the nature of knowledge, reality and existence, but is now used to mean a theory or attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behaviour.

So you and I each have a mindset which is a collection of ideas and beliefs on their own, and ideologies and philosophies, that we have gathered over the gears.

And we use our mindset to determine our attitude, or disposition, mood, intention or inclination in response to what is going on around us.

As you and I interpret these things we react or respond accordingly, using our wisdom, guided by our mindset.

The thing is though, that most people just don’t understand what is going on.

You see, the mind has a habit of ‘labelling’ things.

Labelling makes it easier for you and I to categorise information, knowledge, feelings, whatever, so that we don’t have to spend time examining closely what something or some event is all about.

Trouble is that most people don’t actually read the label.

Have you ever read the small print that comes with medication? Have you ever read the full terms and conditions when you install a piece of software? Do you closely examine the label on every item you buy at the supermarket?

Some people do, but most of us don’t.

And we do the same thing with our mindset – we ‘label’ certain areas of ideology, philosophy and knowledge so that we can make a quick decision, and sometime so that we don’t have to ‘get involved’.

Labels are dangerous. They can mislead us. They can cause us to think or do things we shouldn’t, or not do things we should.

Labels simplify things and in many people simplification leads to ignorance.

They don’t fully understand what it is to which they are applying the label and will make snap decisions about any situation, dismissing or embracing certain ideas or circumstances without thought – because they have a ‘label’ that they either accept or reject.

Some people then limit their mindset to the acceptance of just one label, or should I say ‘brand’, just one ideology that often, again, they don’t fully understand.

This leads to bigotry, fundamentalism, and extremism. Just one ideology, or even idea, is ‘right’, everything else is ‘wrong’ and must be eliminated for the sake of ‘purity’.

Less extreme is when people adopt a set of different ideologies, each one having an attractive ‘label’.

The trouble is that all the different ideas that have been adopted often conflict with one another and a conflicted mindset can lead to symptoms of anxiety, stress and sometimes physical problems, particularly when the mind can’t work out which label to attach to any situation in order to deal with it.

It’s important for you and I to sort out and understand our mindset.

Labels can help but must be used with caution always remembering that what’s inside a book is not often truly represented by its cover.

If there are conflicts, we need to understand and separate them so that we know which parts of the mindset, which ideas and knowledge, to use in any circumstance.

But beware!

Make sure that once you’ve understood your mindset that you don’t allow it to become a ‘set mind’.

The world that surrounds us is not ‘set in concrete’. Things change, and our mindset may need, when appropriate, to change with all the changes and new ideas that go on around us.

‘Set minds’ rapidly pass their ‘sell by date’ and become unable to cope effectively with current realities – and breaking rocks, or concrete, isn’t easy.

Have an enlightening week.