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OpennessI find it interesting that in a culture that values accumulation of material things, we now need professional organizers and feng shui consultants to help us declutter and create more open space. Creating more openness can help us in our relationships, too.

Being open or open-minded on a personal level means being flexible and willing to try new things. Do you have thoughts such as these, “I’m not the kind of person who would. . . “, “I’m not good at . . .” or “I could never . . .” about basically harmless activities? This could be a sign that you need to work on this area.

Openness is also a positive quality in relationship to others. It means that we are curious and interested in others, ready for a fresh, new experience of that person. Past history with others can sometimes get in the way. Memories and preconceptions accumulate and reduce our relating to a stale, old pattern. Let’s look at how we use information from past experience. There are two important factors to keep in mind:

1. Past experiences with one person cannot always be generalized to others. While it would seem like a great way to prevent getting hurt, it also creates a filter through which we see everyone the same way. This is also known as emotional “baggage” which means we are always on the lookout for evidence of similar threats in the behavior of others. When we look for something, we often find evidence that seems to support it. We end up recreating the same patterns with others.

2. Even when dealing with someone you know very well, it is healthy to keep an open mind. Don’t assume you know what’s best or that you already have them or their ideas figured out. We can learn a lot from others when we seriously consider what they have to say. Also, because we are human beings we are always changing and growing, and others may behave differently than we expect.

Here’s how to begin practicing openness now:

  1. Notice any rules you have about your roles – What do you believe are the restrictions of your role(s)? See if this definition still works for you now, and if not, consider redefining yourself.
  2. Give yourself permission to do one of those things you always wanted to do today. Allow yourself to do routine things differently as well.
  3. Create space to enjoy being with others, by clearing out time and distractions so you can be fully present.
  4. Be aware of preconceived ideas about people. Let go of prejudices and preconceptions by focusing on what is actually happening.
  5. Consider new, positive reasons for a person’s behavior.

Remember, when we are flexible with ourselves, we give others permission to do the same. This creates aliveness and vitality, room for creativity, innovation and growth in our relationships!