Clearing Out The Old - Letting Go Of Opinions

This is the last post in the series; Clearing Out The Old. I promise. 
So, in continuing the theme, this week I want to talk about letting go of opinions and everything associated with it; ideas, thoughts and notions.

Letting go of thoughts and opinions

Thoughts, ideas, opinions and notions. Everyone has them, in fact too many of them. 
An average human has about 60,000–80,000 thoughts per day. Yes, per day. A monkey mind indeed. 
Studies have found that of those thousands of thoughts, 80% are negative, and 95% are exactly the same repetitive thoughts as the day before. 
Taking 70,000 thoughts per day as an average, we have 1.12 thoughts per waking second. 67.2 per minute and 4,032 per hour — of which 3,225.6 are negative. 
With that thought (no pun intended), Mind = Blown.

With so many thoughts, ideas, opinions and notions, if we start writing them all down, perhaps we could write a book every week.

Now the real question is, do all of them serve you? 
Do they all have a purpose? 
Do all of them help you become a better version of yourself? 
Maybe it is time we reflect upon them and let some go.

What is an opinion anyway?

According to the dictionary; a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. 
Not necessarily based on fact or knowledge — let that sink in for a moment.

In today’s age of hyper-connectivity, everyone seems to have an opinion about everything, whether its the US election, COVID vaccines, the world economy or even just the weather. Our beliefs, notions and identities get reinforced by the things we choose to consume (or the algorithms show us) and form stronger and stronger opinions on a given subject.

‘Strong opinions, weakly held’ — Paul Saffo

If you are going to have an opinion about something then have conviction behind it. Do your research and firmly stand by that viewpoint or position. Defend it — with facts, knowledge, information and reason. However, this does not mean to hold bad opinions strongly. In light of new information and research, be willing and flexible to change your opinion if required. Don’t be the fool who doesn’t admit that they were/are wrong and is unwilling to change.

The other thing to remember too is that you may feel that your opinions are your own but often they are not. There are so many influences in life; people, advertising, news, social media etc. that it is hard to form our own, completely individual and independent opinions. Yet, extremely important. The best thing you can do for yourself is to think for yourself and not easily get influenced by others opinions.

Evolution of opinions and ideas

With time you gain new knowledge, and with this knowledge, you gain a new perspective on old ideas and opinions — at least in theory. 
When you evolve as a person (I talked about in the last post and the video) so too should your ideas, opinions and thinking processes. If they are not, then you are not growing. 
Some opinions and ideas are tied to your identity and are the foundation of your personality and these are the hardest ones to questions and assess but are the most important ones — religion, patriotism and faith are examples of such ideas. They may even be preventing you from becoming a better, improved person as you are so intertwined with these ideas and beliefs.

Assess your opinions

One of the best things you can do to assess your opinions and check them is to read. As much as possible. On a wide array of subjects. 
Pick and define one of your ideas, find a book that talks about exactly the opposite things and read it. Or find a person who believes in exactly the opposite and genuinely try to understand their point of view. Have your opinions challenged and questioned. Spend time with people who can help do that. Read and watch things that contradict your opinions — this will either reinforce and renew your beliefs in your original idea or give you a reason to reassess it and change sides. And doing so reflects growth more than anything else. It’s not about ego.

I suggest having a regular reflection practice to assess what is not serving you any more including your opinions, ideas, notions and thoughts and to let them go. 
As we near the end of a very challenging and unusual year. It is a good time to have a reflective practice and consider letting go of some of the things I have mentioned over the last few weeks. 
I have my list of questions to conduct my end of year review and reflection and I am currently in the process of doing just that. You can find my template here.

Read these posts (if you have not already) to help build your own self-reflection practice and to let things go.