Experimenting with Thorny Ideas


I sat down to write a few thoughts about experimentation in personal development but the idea that kept coming across my mind was intuition. “Should I be writing about intuition?” I thought. At this point I am roughly halfway through my training program to be a certified life coach and just a couple weeks ago, my cohort took an in-depth look at human intuition in one of our classes together. Admittedly, I had never given much thought to intuition and I do not, even now, have a fully-developed opinion on the matter. I am more spiritual in my life now than I have been in years past and am committed to maintaining an open mind, so I think I will keep working with the idea of intuition and see where this work leads me.

And with these thoughts, I’m now recognizing that I’ve already given myself a mindset of experimentation with respect to intuition. You see, experiments don’t have to be some big, elaborately designed process. In fact, experiments perhaps work the best when they are simple and easy to follow-through with.

There’s also some nuance between the ideas of “an experiment” and “an experimental mindset” that I think is important to highlight here. Because I’m keeping an open mind toward intuition and giving myself more time to develop opinions and beliefs about intuition, I would say that I do have an experimental mindset, but I haven’t really done an experiment yet. If I wanted to design an experiment about intuition, I might intentionally try to intuit ideas as I’m interacting with people and then work those ideas into conversation to test if those ideas fit or if I’m way off base. I will probably want to actually design an experiment like this to continue working with intuition.

Treatment of Thorny Ideas

It is important to maintain an experimental mindset and to conduct simple experiments because some of the most critical work that needs to be done in personal development has roots in limiting beliefs, and those are particularly tricky to work through. Certainly not impossible, but tricky. For me, intuition is a thorny and new idea, but I don’t think that’s due to a limiting belief. Other examples might be “I am successful” or “I am attractive”. For some people, these ideas may create conflict with limiting beliefs and in order to flip these limiting beliefs, a person may need more data. Experimentation is the process by which we go into the world and get that data.

So whether there’s a limiting belief or not, experimentation is important because it gives us a chance to maintain an open mind and collect new data to inform our thoughts and opinions and ultimately our beliefs and mindsets. I may come around to the idea of intuition or I may not, but in either case, by experimenting in this way, I will be able to articulate my position on the topic (to myself) and to understand something about myself on a much deeper level.

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