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How to Keep an Open Mind — Even During an Election Year

how to keep an open mind, even during an election yearThe presidential election is less than six months away and we’re all starting to feel a little fed up. Judgment, opinions, shaming, and finger-wagging are happening all around us. The news media can pump into our homes 24/7. We’re all left thinking, “Can’t we just vote already?”

You know how you feel. You know your values. You’re capable of digesting information and making a decision — you do that all day long. And you’d definitely be more open to hearing new perspectives if people were respectful of that.

The real bummer about people who try to force their opinion on others is that they make a heap of presumptions. They take things for granted, see the world in absolutes, and overgeneralize.

  • “You gotta look at it this way.”
  • “People like you are all the same.”
  • “That’s exactly what they want you to think.”
  • “You’re wasting your vote.”
  • “You’re wasting your breath.”

What they’re really saying is:

  • “Your thinking is inferior to mine.”
  • “I think I know everything I need to know about you and your experiences, and I’ll dismiss any attempt to convince me otherwise.”
  • “You’re delusional.”
  • “I won’t recognize your value.”

It’s not just disrespectful to insistently force your beliefs on someone else — it’s downright narcissistic. The need to convince someone else that you’re correct has nothing to do with you having their best interest at heart. It has everything to do with needing validation and praise. “Oh, you are absolutely correct. I’m so lucky to have you around to save me when I’m led astray.”

To the pushy dogmatist, you either come around to their thinking or you’re doomed. There is no gray area. There’s no room for innovation. There’s no place for optimism. These aren’t resilient people — these are people guided by fear. By the end of election season, it’s a wonder anyone can manage to be positive about anything.

Don’t let water-cooler politics take the air out of your tires anymore. If you’re done dealing with people who push your buttons, make you repeat your reasoning over and over until you feel crazy or angry, and frequently lecture you on topics they know you don’t agree on, it’s time to think about your own mental health.

Decline debates. Demand that your privacy be respected. Distance yourself from these pushy hooligans. Because if you don’t, it’s impossible to maintain an open mind.

Every time you find yourself defending your beliefs and logic, and feeling that angry heat rising up in your ears, you’re digging your heels in. You could become embittered and as close-minded as the socially inept person you’re arguing against. One day, if a better idea comes along you just might miss it. You might not be open to it because you’re now as staunch as Mike in accounting, Aunt Lydia, etc.

Take a break from politics. Turn off the news. Do something you enjoy, something affirming. Even better, learn something new.

And for those who do love arguing politics with your friends, family, coworkers, employees. Ask yourself: Do they love it, too?


How to Keep an Open Mind — Even During an Election Year

Sarah Newman, MA, MFA

Sarah Newman is the managing editor and associate publisher of PsychCentral and the founding editor-in-chief of the Poydras Review.

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APA Reference
Newman, S. (2018). How to Keep an Open Mind — Even During an Election Year. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 12 Jul 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.