If you’ve every watched the movie Dogma there’s a line about how beliefs are bad but ideas are good. With all the recent controversies over politics, pipelines, police behavior, and the list could go on. I’ve come to the conclusion that this applies to almost everything people disagree about. That’s why I’ve sat down and tried to figure out the best way to deal with opposing opinions and beliefs.
The first thing to remember when you come across someone with opposing beliefs to your own is you won’t change them. When someone truly believes something to be true they don’t want to change their mind. I’ve found that no matter what the facts are, people will stick their beliefs. You can present them with facts and they will find things that prove those facts wrong in their mind. There is simply no way to argue with beliefs. So what do you do about these people who have different beliefs?
Circle of Concern, Circle of Influence
I suggest when dealing with people that have strong beliefs, that you look at the circle of concern vs circle of influence principle. This principle explains that with everything you do there are is a big circle and a smaller circle. Then there are things that concern you this is a big circle for most people. Things like if you are going to lose your job, or when you’ll die. Then there’s the circle with things you have influence of which is the smaller circle. Things like what you are going to wear today, or who you choose to talk to. The smaller circle of influence is always inside your circle of concern.
The problem is much of my circle of concern is outside my circle of influence. Thus I try very hard to avoid spending time on things that I have no influence on, even when I’m very concerned about them. I’ll admit it’s hard not to point out how misinformed people are sometimes but once I realize these people have beliefs they won’t change, it gets easier.
It’s hard to not get heated about things that concern you. It’s even harder to realize that even though you have deep concern for something you have no influence over it. The best thing you can do is attempt to recognize what you have influence on and concern yourself with only those things. The more you argue over things you have no influence on the smaller your circle of influence will become. On the flip side the more you stick with discussing things you have influence on, that concern you, the more influence you’ll find you have.