The term “being the devil’s advocate” is used to describe someone who when confronted with a certain point of view takes an opposing position that they may or may not necessarily agree with, just for the sake of debate or to explore the thought further.
This is a really annoying trait to some people (like my children)…and I’ve been ailing from it my entire life. Maybe because I’m born under the Zodiac sign of Pisces—you know, those fish swimming in two different directions because they can’t make up their minds?
While I’ve often wondered why I want to argue the contrarian perspective as if it were my own, I do know it has enabled me to learn and be far more open-minded to ideas I might have once never considered or given credence. If someone states something that I might or might not agree with, by taking the completely opposite perspective in a debate, my thinking is forced to become more clear, aligned or even totally flipped on its head.
By being willing to risk a discussion from the opposing position, (while it sometimes upsets the counter-party who might not really be up for a debate, so it does pay to ask if you can share another perspective before charging forward) it enables us to see things from a different light. We acquire new information as we’re educated by another & biases are forced to be confronted. Often by looking at something from a different angle, we can see why the issue might be mired in misunderstandings. Those that can see all sides of an argument have quite different perspectives than one who only knows one side. By challenging ourselves to try to see both sides, the likelihood of understanding any person or situation with greater depth increases.
Each of our experiences and debates throughout life combine together to make us who we are. Yet, who we are is not concrete. If we allow our conversations (and life) to flow, our thoughts are more like water: Able to form new shape based on the “container” or situation we open ourselves to through willingness to hear another side or perspective. Suddenly we may find ourselves exploring new ideas. Freed from habitual thinking, breaking out & trying new things because our perspectives on what is possible, right, or the proverbial only way…expands. We gain new ways to see ourselves, others & situations. Exposure is growth. Growth is invigorating
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