Sunday, July 17, 2016

Weekly Inspiration: 7/17 Are You a Soldier or a Scout?

I haven't had time to watch any TED talks lately (nor much blogging time!), so this morning, with most of the household still asleep, I sought out an interesting one and listened with my earbuds.

I was intrigued by the title of Julia Galef's recent talk, "Why You Think You're Right - Even if You're Wrong." Let's just say I've been accused before of always thinking I am right! Since my husband has the same tendency, it can cause a bit of friction at times, if we are on opposite sides of an issue (for the record, we agree on most of the big stuff, but this tendency can cause arguments about all kinds of trivial things!).

The talk was very interesting - in ways I didn't expect. Galef explains how research has shown that people generally have one of two mindsets: the soldier, certain of his viewpoint & defensive of anything different, and the scout, curious and always interested in new information & learning new things. She weaves in an interesting story from French history to illustrate the two mindsets.

She explains it all far better (and more engagingly) than I can, in just 11 minutes:

What really interested me is how this simple idea applies to so much in our world. Yes, it is very applicable to one-on-one relationships, which is what I was thinking about when I clicked on it. But, as I listened, I couldn't help but think how strongly this concept explains the deep divisions going on in our world today politically - the increasingly nasty upcoming presidential election in the U.S. and the recent Brexit vote in the U.K. are two huge examples.

I also think this concept applies to our lives with chronic illness. First, our illnesses already provide a barrier between us and our loved ones. I still - after 14 years - have many family members who feel uncomfortable with the reality of my illness. With that kind of conflict already in place, the last thing I need is more tension in my personal relationships. This idea of trying to have a Scout mindset and be open-minded can certainly help to improve our personal relationships - and less stress equals feeling better.

Second, for some people, this Soldier mindset might even get in the way of living their best life with chronic illness. As I said, I am something of a Soldier myself at times, but in my case, I think that has helped me with my illness because my mindset is that I can improve, things will get better, and there are treatments out there to help me. This single-minded determination has helped me to not give up when things get rough (as they do), and the Scout in me has pushed me to constantly seek new information and remain open-minded. However, if your Solider beliefs are more negative - I will never improve, things will never get better, I am trapped in this life - than those could certainly have a negative impact on your well-being.

In any case, this is a fascinating talk and has inspired me this Sunday morning to try to be more of a Scout in my personal relationships.

How about you? Are you a Scout or a Soldier or a little of each?


  1. Wow Sue! This was super timely for me! I had a 'soldier' conflict today that ended up in a 'scout' resolution. Ted talks can be so interesting and dead on! Thank you for partying at Chronic Friday Linkup! Pinned/Shared/Tweeted

    1. Glad you could relate to! This seemed really on target to me and universally relevant!