Mental File Cabinets

*In my Principles of Management: Diversity class we recently had to read a short story by, Tony Robbins about our mental file cabinets I found it it to be an interesting read. Unfortunately I couldn’t find an online version to post with this but here is my short essay in response to the article:

I found this essay to be an interesting read, I have often thought of my mind as a file cabinet or folders and subfolders on a computer. I have tried to treat it as I do my real life file cabinet or computer. With my home every six months I go through my things including my real life file cabinet and dispose of the clutter, unneeded or not used things that can pile up around the house. I am a very organized, logical, one step after another thinker, I do not like clutter or distractions. Although unlike my home I don’t wait every six months to reevaluate a situation, person or idea, I make a daily effort to keep my mental folders strong and positive.

When I think about the type of labels I have on my mental folders I realize I have a lot of folders because I do not group things together. I do not have a Mexican folder where I put both my friends Lindsey and Roxanna in the same folder, I have a Roxanna folder then Roxanna subfolders. Roxanna’s folders would look something like this: Roxanna, married, University of Washington graduate, political science major, ruthless at fantasy football, etc. Since I know quite a few people and I am naturally curious I have many folders. Also since I am very interested in the, who, what, when, why’s of being human I have many subfolders attached to the individuals that are in my life.

My father use to tell me often don’t be so open minded your brain falls out. Well I never really took that advice. My belief is knowledge is personal power and there is so much to learn you should never stop, once you stop adding ideas and “folders” what is the point? The world is ever changing, knowledge is ever changing. That is why it is important to reevaluate your mental folders on a constant basis otherwise you get lost in time, prejudices and stereotypes. Trying new things, putting yourself out there is what enhances your knowledge of others and the world around you.

Being human it is virtually impossible not to have any negative folders, nobody has had a perfect life where there was no pain, hurt, suffering, betrayal, or regret. We all have those folders that are at the back of the file cabinet, buried and covered with dust and forgotten about. Dealing with them can take years and sometimes professional help is needed to help us unfold what we have buried in that folder. But it is those types of folders that enable us, that disable our thinking and hold us back.

One folder I am constantly working on to change is my religion folder, if you would have asked me 5 years ago I would have clumped every religious person in the same folder and compared them all to my dad. I have made leaps and bounds with this thinking, and logically even then I knew not every religious person was like my dad. But the hurt I felt about my dad I blamed it on his religion instead of him, therefore illogically linking religion with my pain. I am constantly deleting that pesky religion folder it is hard for me because it was easier to blame the state of mine and my father’s relationship on his religious choices rather than his own. Not all people who believe in god or practice a religion are alike I know that and I have known that for a long time but I used that folder as a coping mechanism. I have in the last few years reclassified my folder and given my dad his own, with his own subfolders. While it is definitely something I have to constantly upkeep because old habits are hard to overcome I no longer automatically place someone in the “religion” folder when they tell me they are religious, I make it a subfolder in their folder.

Nobody is perfect and the best we can do is be aware of our imperfections and try to change our perceptions. Actively seeking new ideas, thoughts, and meaning keeps us evolving and growing, keeps us alive. We never want to be stagnant because while we are sitting there idle the world is still turning and changing around us.

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