Friday, April 13, 2012
When You're Spoon-fed Applesauce...
When you're spoon-fed applesauce, you never think of eating pears. not unless someone with some pears comes along and asks you why you've never had pears. They may even offer you some pears. You may be immediately attracted to the pears or you may be wary, even put off or disgusted at the mere sight of the pears.
Why is it that as adults, we are often frightened of trying something new? Whether it's a new food, a new method of a chore you've performed thousands of times, a new concept? Whenever I cook a new food for my family, even one that has a taste and texture I know my kids will love, I am still met with grimaces and sometimes even retching as they have the preconception that they won't like it. Their father and I will sit at the table perplexed and flabbergasted at their wholly close-minded attitudes. We have a rule in our house that if the kids don't like something they don't have to eat it. Nothing goes to waste in my household, trust me. There's always someone to eat what one child doesn't want - and pb&j in the cupboard. Eventually they will come around, and I tell myself that they will one day outgrow their initial aversion to trying new things. But will they?
I think that as adults, we are always reluctant to entertain new concepts - particularly those that divulge from the mainstream, due to several factors.
Growing up, we listened to our parents as they vehemently complained about punk hair, heavy metal, or anyone who lived life differently than they did. "Did you see Margie? Oh yeah, she doesn't wear underwear! Can you believe that? Could you imagine anything grosser? Yeah. Yeah, I know. Just makes you think, what other weird stuff we don't know about her." And there you have it. People who don't wear underwear are automatically weirdos. I bet you just inwardly agreed, didn't you? So stop and think for a minute, what precisely about a person who doesn't wear underwear is gross to you? You'd never even notice. In fact, I know a couple of people who don't don knickers and guess what? I never knew until they told me!
Stop and question WHY you have a preconceived notion of something. Where did this prejudice come from? Who gave you that idea in the first place? Mom and Dad? A teacher at school? Society? T.V. commercials? A doctor?
What others will think of us.
If we initially think a concept or newfangled method is weird or off putting, so will our family and our friends. Many of us never take on a new idea, no matter how appealing we find it, simply because we fear others criticism almost as much as we feared be reprimanded by our parents when we were growing up. Many who are considered part of subculture are the exception, often times doing things JUST to upset the norm and bring on the hostility and criticism of others. Oh, but you know, they're total freaks! <---- that's sarcasm!
If someone presents you with a new idea and you are really keen on it but afraid of catching flack there are things you can do to prepare yourself for dealing with intolerant mindsets. You can arm yourself with as much information on the subject as you can find. Imagine what others might say to you and form your counter arguments before hand so you won't be caught off guard. This does not mean you have to get into a confrontation. But having the knowledge on hand that convinced YOU an idea was worthy will make you feel more secure when asserting this idea to others. Memorize references so you can tell or show (inlaws, parents, siblings, frineds) where you found this information, even have some information printed off so they can read the articals themselves if they are open to learning. Practice telling strangers or people that you don't know well (or could give a rats ass what they think of you) before telling the ones that you're concerned may become upset. The more you say it out loud, the more comfortable you will be expressing the idea.
Resistance to change.
If you, say, cancelled your curbside trash service and decided to recycle 90% of everything that comes through your household, you can save quite a bit of money (not to mention doing your fair bit for the planet). Think you couldn't do that? Sure you can, I do! And it's totally free too. It's not as hard as you may think. I bet your brain just started grinding in protest as it began processing the hows and the whats-its. Changing something, even something as so mundane as trash disposal, takes work! But if the benefits would be worth it to you, at least give it some thought. And if you want to know how to reduce your trash consumption, stay tuned to this blog. A "Trash Rules" post will be coming soon!
Really stop and think about what changes will be needed to put the new idea into fruition. Mull it over, compile a list of duties and supplies. Look at it from multiple angles to see all of the different ways you could make your new idea work. Bounce it off of a friend or mate to get another perspective. You may well find that it isn't as hard as you initially thought.
You haven't been given permission. That's a big one. It hangs a lot of us up. Even as adults, we defer back to our authority figures. If your authority figures were hippies or nudists, you probably have a tendency to follow a less than mainstream path - and do so fairly easily. But for many of us who were raised with parents who had traditional values and practices, it can be hard to buck the system. And our parents aren't the only authority figures we carry into adulthood. The government, of course, the school system, doctors, even television. - Hey, how many times have you watched a commercial for Lysol, where they're in a bathroom that is already clean and then they wipe it with their magic cleaning solution so suddenly it's blindingly white? Then you feel like crud because you had no idea that it wasn't clean in the first place and guilty because you now know that your bathroom is completely unpresentable? Yeah? Don't worry, we all do that! T.V ads use shame and guilt to make us comply with what we believe the social standards are and therefore it is very much an authority figure for many adults.
Also, most of us will rebel from our parents long before we refuse to follow advice from our doctors. Think about that one for a minute! As children, we were told that the only people who had permission to touch our private parts were our parents or our doctors. Doctors were allowed to poke us with needles and do all sorts of things to us that no one else (even our closest relatives) could do and not go to jail for. Doctors advice has a strong hold over us. Especially if it's our child's pediatrician and we worry that if we don't obey the doctor, we will get into trouble. Most often we listen without regret, because we believe that they always have our best interests at heart - like good old Mom and Dad. But do they? Do they really? Take a moment to consider who is paying the doctor (nearly all of the time) and I'm going to leave it at that.
But really stop to think when a doctor gives you advice, or prescribes you or your child a medication, exactly who is getting the biggest benefit in this scenario. If it's you or your kid, then fine. And I'm not saying we shouldn't take our doctors advice when it is good and necessary. I'm only saying that we should not take it for granted that our doctors know all, and that they always have our best interests in mind. Doctors should NOT be authority figures! And neither should t.v. ads. ;-)
You're never too old or too young to ask questions and it's never a bad idea to stop and question yourself. Why do you practice what you practice? Why do you believe what you believe? Where do your values come from? Constant self-reflection can bring you a world of insight into your own motivations and help you determine what practices or preconceptions you could stand to hone, alter, or abolish. And inturn, this can help you to be more understanding and open to people who do things differently than you.