New Awareness

During the course of my Wicked Problems class I have been challenged continuously to look at problems from different perspectives. This mindset has changed the way I see not only wicked problems, but also how I view other peoples opinions and thoughts. We learned about why wicked problems are so wicked and how to view them with from a more compassionate point of view. After realizing that I have been biased in my opinions previously in my life, this class has reminded me that not everything revolves around me and my own issues. When I encounter a wicked problem, or maybe even an argument over one, I used to put up a wall immediately and assume I already have the right answer. Although I was satisfied knowing “I must be right”, this was not helpful in conveying a message. As a mentioned in my previous post, I have a tendency to engage in arguments with my family. Whether it be over politics, religion, or even what we want for dinner, arguments seemed to arise out of nowhere. Because of my “I must be right” attitude these arguments never got anywhere and only ruined our mood. I never put in the effort to understand why my family might feel the way they do about these issues. Now, after completing this course, I have developed a much more compassionate understanding of where peoples opinions come from. Even if I am educated on a topic, understanding why my family, or anyone, might view the problem differently is vital to any conversation. For example, when I have a conversation about politics, I now force myself to view the topic in question from a different point of view. Although looking at a wicked problem from a different point of view might not change my opinion on the topic, it gives me the insight and understanding to have a more civil conversation about the problem. I feel that being able to have a calm conversation about wicked problems can be a useful tool in teaching people the truth behind these issues. I believe that having a mindfulness practice can certainly influence how I respond to wicked problems. Instead of meditating for a certain amount of time per day, I like to spontaneously use mindfulness practices to keep myself grounded throughout the day. Simply keeping myself grounded can create a big difference in how I respond to issues. I have greatly lessened my own anxiety over sustainability issues by being continuously mindful that I am only one person and I can only control myself. Getting over my need to be right all the time has allowed me to be more mindful in my attitude towards wicked problems in general. I now have a goal to constantly be looking for ways to see problems from other perspectives. I want to open myself to new point of views and deeper understanding of wicked problems so that I am always learning and never shutting anything out. I believe I have already made large strides in making this goal a habit. In fact, I now catch myself thinking about this goal regularly during conversation and it has greatly increased my critical thinking. While I have not completely been able to avoid negative thoughts and anger towards those with wildly different opinions than me, I have consciously put in the effort throughout this course to take a more compassionate view on anyone I disagree with. You truly never know why people believe and think they way they do. I am now much more mindful that I can only be an advocate for the truth and I have to educate myself, from every point of view, on things that I am passionate about. For example, the other week I caught myself getting frustrated with a family member who has a very different belief system than I do. All I wanted to do was prove that I am right and make them understand why. I was directing all of my feelings towards frustration on the topic and I was only hurting myself by letting my emotions control me. Eventually, I got back on track and completely avoided any arguments because in the end…why argue? I wasn’t going to change anyones mind and I knew that. I also now posses the understanding that people form opinions from their life experiences and how they are emotionally attached to an issue. Honestly, it is difficult to write over this topic for so long because I feel that I can be at peace with my current knowledge over compassionate understanding and I can only grow from here. When I think about how I can create positive change in my circle of influence, my mind immediately goes to conversation. I have roommates and friends that I talk to on a daily basis. How can I be more positive and mindful when I sit down and talk with them. Even if we are not discussing a wicked problem, my mindset is that I should always be positive and encouraging to my circle of influence. Making others feel good and more positive in themselves is vital to lasting friendships that grow trust. When I have this position of trust with people, it is infinitely easier to discuss wicked problems when those conversations arise. I can use my understanding of compassionate curiosity to learn more about how others feel regarding wicked issues and I can convey my own thoughts more effectively when I start off with a positive relationship. So overall, I feel that in the end, I have learned many positive behaviors and thought processes from the Wicked Problems of the Industry class I participated in. Learning how to effectively use compassionate understanding to learn and react to wicked problems has greatly improved my empathy for these issues and how they effect people. I appreciated the opportunity to partake in productive conversations with the class and engage with people who shared the same opinions with me or challenged my views. This class has opened my eyes to a new level of empathy whether it benefits me or not. In conclusion, with a more profound awareness of wicked problems and everything that goes into them, I am able to approach issues with a more humane attitude. This has greatly enhanced my conversations with my circle of influence and allowed me to communicate my emotions and thoughts more freely and accurately.

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