How to Keep an Open Mind

How to Keep an Open Mind

We all like to believe we’re open-minded, that we’re open to new ideas and ways of doing things, that we’re not stubbornly attached to old habits, dogmas, or prejudices. However, in practice, being open-minded can be hard. We all rely on various habits and assumptions that have kept us alive and relatively comfortable to this point. Changing those habits and assumptions–or just being open to changing them–can feel uncomfortable and even dangerous. When you’re recovering from addiction, you will inevitably have to reexamine some of your core assumptions about life and some of those will have to go. If you have trouble keeping an open mind, making positive changes is going to be slow and painful. Here are some tips for keeping an open mind in recovery.

Ask, “How has the old way been working for me?”

Perhaps the most direct way of opening your mind to new ways of doing things is to ask yourself, “How has this been working for me?” If you’ve decided to seek help for a substance use disorder, something in your life is broken. The faster you find it, the sooner you can fix it but you’ll never find it if you refuse to look. When someone, a therapist, a sponsor, a friend, whoever, suggests looking at things in a different way, consider the results of your old way and if they don’t seem that great, consider trying the new way.

Listen to what others have to say.

It’s easy to get trapped in a cage of our own settled beliefs and opinions. We feel like we’ve settled some problem for ourselves and we only need the one way of looking at it. However, pretty much everything is open to many perspectives and solutions. Listen to what others have to say and try to understand. Consider the possibility that alternative viewpoints are equally valid. Even if you ultimately decide not to change your mind, listening to others can open up your sense of possibilities.

Consider a trial period.

It’s hard to think about making a permanent change, especially when you don’t know whether it will help you or make things worse. Instead of thinking about committing to a new idea or behavior, consider just trying it on and see how it works. If it doesn’t seem to help, you can always go back to what you were doing before. 

Get outside your bubble.

Most of us exist to some extent inside a comfortable bubble. Every day we talk to the same people, watch the same TV shows, read the same articles and these familiar patterns make up our own little world. However, the real world is big and full of ideas and behaviors that might strike us as unusual or even bizarre. Make a regular effort to push beyond your familiar experiences. Talk to people who disagree with you politically or listen to music that’s popular in another country. Many people have trouble even coming to terms with addiction because they only spend time around other people with substance use issues. Get outside your bubble, even in small ways.


Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California is a premiere men’s addiction treatment facility that uses eight different modalities to help our men become the best versions of themselves they can be. We teach our men that every day of their journey is something to celebrate and that recovery isn’t a sprint– it’s a marathon.

To get started with Tree House Recovery, call us today at (855) 202-2138

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