Four Gelatt Guidelines

Changing one’s mind will be an essential decision making skill in the future. Keeping the mind open will be another. Positive uncertainty helps clients deal with ambiguity, accept inconsistency, and utilize the intuitive side of choosing. H B Gelatt in 1989 *

The quote above is an abstract of one of my first publications about positive uncertainty. I have just posted over 100 blogs about this philosophy of decision making. This blog is a brief, partial summary of some of these blogs and of my writing since 1989. It is my way of reviewing my thinking. I realize for most people reviewing their thinking is probably not a high priority. This short, concise version may help.

The minute you make up your mind that the way you see things makes a difference, it will make a difference in the way you see things and do things.

This has been my theme of all my writing. The way you see things is your worldview: your overall perspective, from which you see and interpret the world; your collection of beliefs about life and the universe. You aren’t interested in thinking about the way you see things unless you believe the way you see things makes a difference.

My four guidelines represent my four major themes: subjectivity, open-mindedness, interconnectedness and uncertainty. I call them Gelatt Guidelines because they are mine, one person’s recommendations, inspired by my reading and because they might provide relevant guidance for illuminating the way you see things, if you want illumination.

  1. Notice that beliefs become behavior. (Subjectivity)

If you believe it will rain you carry an umbrella. Believing is seeing and seeing is doing. Beliefs are biology, psychology and prophecy. They influence your heartbeat, your thinking, and your predictions. Some beliefs have better behavioral consequences than others. What to believe is your most powerful option.

  1. Become as capable of change as the environment. (Open-mindedness)

It isn’t a crime to change your mind. Open-mindedness is the best teacher because an open mind is receptive to new and different ideas. A closed mind eliminates learning. Have the courage to challenge your convictions. Change happens to you and change happens by you. Changing your view changes you.

  1. Keep your mind’s eye on what you don’t see. (Interconnectedness)

What you see is not all there is. We are participant observers, meaning that we only see what we pay attention to; what we don’t pay attention to is still there. And we are visually impaired observers, meaning we can’t see all the hidden wholeness. Try to imagine what you are not seeing.

  1. Acknowledge the benefit of doubt. (Uncertainty)

Know what you want and believe, but don’t be sure. Beware of your dogma. Treat truth as a hypothesis. Dogma is popular but doubt is practical — and beneficial. Certainty is what makes you comfortable, uncertainty is what makes you creative. Not knowing is now considered the norm.

* Journal of Counseling Psychology, 1989, Vol. 36, No. 2




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