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Knowing the Truth About Yourself
Use these tips to open yourself up to differing ideas and perspectives.

To achieve balance in your life you need to seek the opposite.

We all know the familiar phrase, "The truth will set you free," and we all claim to want to know the truth both inside and outside about ourselves. However, new research shows that we really don’t want to know someone else’s truth if it differs from ours. We seek out information, which validates our beliefs without the opposing views. When we do familiarize ourselves with the opposition, it is for the purpose of refutation!

The analysis reported by the American Psychological Association and led by researchers at the University of Illinois and the University of Florida, included data from 91 studies involving nearly 8,000 participants. This study "puts to rest a longstanding debate over whether people actively avoid information which contradicts what they believe, or whether they are simply exposed more often to ideas that conform to their own because they tend to be surrounded by like-minded people." The answer is that people do not wish to know the other side. Also, cited by the study is the important point that the more confident one is about their beliefs, the more likely they will be exposed to opposing viewpoints; however, if one lacks confidence, he is not likely to seek out information about the opposition.

What Does This Mean to You and Your Marriage?
When you are maturing and focusing on self-growth, it’s all about you: your transformation, your happiness and your fulfillment. This self-absorption fuels you to emerge creatively with greater self-empowerment to advocate for yourself. This is all wonderful and a necessary first step. However, when you hold yourself in such high self-esteem that you become a dictator while your spouse becomes a doormat, you are not seeing the whole truth of your relationship. Keep in mind that the "I" you have cultivated consists of two eyes to see the whole picture. You need to see the other side. Use these questions to achieve an honest balance:

* What are my spouse’s vulnerabilities?
* Have I misunderstood?
* Am I stressed and depleted? As a result my perspective is a bit negative.
* Am I expecting the unattainable and for my spouse to be perfect while I am not perfect?
* Am I asking my spouse to change his or her nature and be my clone?

We waste precious time judging others. When we become aware that we filter out information and that personal memory is selective and flawed, we become more open to the principle that the truth exists on a continuum. In other words, we could be wrong. This premise changes the dynamics of all our conversations and disagreements—for the better.

All of us try to coast through life by following a routine to give us stability. However, no one can remain at equilibrium. Everything and everyone is changing all around us. We are constantly changing internally before we perceive how we change externally. So, when we think that we are in balance, actually we are not! As soon as we adjust to family, friends and colleagues, disappointment or even good fortune comes along to undermine our stability; there is a shift in their lives and in our own, as well.

We should challenge our balance all the time, rehearsing to become more flexible and fluid. Zen philosophy uses simple opposites to help us achieve greater balance: the yin and yang of things. In Zen the thing and the no-thing must both be considered in order to reach a more expansive and happier understanding. We are all students and teachers. No one is just the teacher.

Here are some suggestions to open yourself up to differing ideas and perspectives, which challenge your cherished truths:

* Instead of always changing into something more comfortable, try on something uncomfortable. Here’s how: first, use your imagination to visualize a conflict or difficult moment which is bothering you. Second, visualize it frequently, even once a day. The more you see it, the quicker you can get accustomed to it. Third, come up with some possible solutions to detoxify its hold on you. Now visualize the upset again with this new solution the way you would reinterpret a nightmare with a new positive ending to release its frightful hold.

* If you feel like the pendulum has swung to one extreme in your life, let it swing to the other extreme to reach the middle. If something destructive happens in your life, go the creative route to restore your balance. Balance out loss and destruction with creation and productivity.

* When you exercise, work on your core—the center of your gravity. When you do core exercises for your body, your mind follows along. For example, if you stand on a balance pod, you feel wobbly. You need to stabilize your legs from the middle of your body and keep your eyes focused. After a little practice you become adept and can stabilize yourself anywhere. Walking on uneven pavement becomes a piece of cake and so follows life.

* Use humor to lighten your beliefs. Don’t take yourself so seriously and you will soar in your experiences and all your relationships. You will become a better listener and controversy won’t intimidate you.

Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of "Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life," a stress-management specialist, the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City, produces a wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com.

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Over 1 million couples turn to Hitched for expert marital advice every year. Sign up now for our newsletter & get exclusive weekly content that will entertain, educate and inspire your marriage.

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