We strive to create a world where we can all enjoy life more fully. We rally behind causes such as gender equality, racial acceptance and religious accommodation yet these are the topics whereby unrest continues to create news headlines. We send our children to school and our employees on courses to reinforce our commitment to change. We publish books, produce shows and host conferences to discuss the importance of these humanitarian topics. So why is it that in 2017 where we have connectivity to all the information we could possibly want, we are still so far from letting go of our biases to people who are different from us?
Definitions are useful to help better understand the underlying challenge of changing attitudes of individuals, groups and society. According to Merriam-Webster, ‘attitude’ is a feeling or emotion toward a fact or state, ‘teach‘ is to instruct by precept, example or experience and ‘tell’ is to give information to. For further discussion, ‘experience’ represents the conscious events that make up an individual life and the events that make up the conscious past of a community or nation or humankind generally.
In our drive to be efficient at mass-education, we have shifted from teaching to telling. Technology has increased our ability to reach and inform the masses. However, attitudes are formed by emotion which is achieved through experience. Living life involves events with create thought and emotion. And that is what forms our beliefs. So while we can easily tell people what our values are, we can only change attitudes by creating experiences that teach these values.
- Create attitudes through shared experiences: Trudeau’s quote on the bottom of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms written in 1981 states: ‘We must now establish the basic principles, the basic values and beliefs which hold us together as Canadians so that beyond our regional loyalties there is a way of life and a system of values which make us proud of the country that has given us such freedom and such immeasurable joy!’ The Charter can outline the values that we live by however the beliefs must be established through shared experiences. It takes leadership to create an environment that allows individuals from diverse backgrounds to come together as a collective and work toward shared values. It takes leadership to create a non-threatening space that is safe for all members to acknowledge their culture and past experiences and accept the same in others. From a position of safety, individuals can share, learn and grow together.
- Introduce tools that access our beliefs: We all hold energy in our beliefs and attitudes. It is a survival technique to help us make sense of our world. When life events occur that do not match our beliefs, we react. Logosynthesis is a unique tool that helps to access and identify the sensory perceptions that trigger these reactions. It recognizes the importance of spiritual care and the age-old wisdom that words have power beyond the meaning. The guided technique quickly and effectively neutralizes reactions by letting go of the energy that is bound in our beliefs and attitudes.
- Support collective space for individual self-care: We rely on individuals to have the strength to cope with the demands of society. We each have unique experiences which determine our ability to cope but there is also a collective experience that places pressure on the individual. Creating positive, challenging learning environments for youth will result in experiences that will shape attitudes. In the cases where learning environments are less desirable, we need to collectively create space so that we can, as individuals, begin to let go of the energy that is bound in our beliefs and attitudes. This is not just for those that struggle to cope but also for those who are leading our organizations.
The path to changing attitudes lies with teaching, not telling. By creating positive experiences and by letting go of the energy that is bound in our beliefs and attitudes based on past experiences. We need to work together collectively to bring this into our awareness so we can create a world where we can all enjoy life more fully.