Exposure to new ideas is something that is unavoidable, but nonetheless painful. If one is to exist in a social space, which we as humans do, we are going to be exposed to the ideas and cultures of others. There are two fundamental perspectives on the extremities in regard to exposing an individual to ideas. It is important to identify the extremities and theorize to what degree we can moderate between them.
On one extremity, we have the concept that exposure to ideas is dangerous, because it is painful. And to this degree, we should protect ourselves from the ideas that differ from our own. As humans, we have the tendency to believe whatever current perspective we hold is the correct one; to hear an opposing perspective is to battle the idea that you might be wrong. This is painful for many. On the other extremity we have an idea approximating in the attempted exposure to all ideas, regardless of the effect it might have on the individual. It is the justification of harm by access to knowledge. This can become dangerous because it negates one’s mental health completely.
It is imperative that we expose ourselves to as much as humanly possible, this is true. If not, we fail to challenge ourselves. There is no way to grow if there is nothing to overcome. Think of it like raising a child. The idea of raising a child is to help them understand the world well enough so that they can correctly navigate it when they turn 18 and are on their own.
Someone might say something along the lines of ,“Oh, well I do not let my child have a significant other because it didn’t really matter at this age, and I want to protect them from heartbreak.” It is possible that your child will go through heartbreak, and that it probably will not matter, but what could your child learn? They might learn what they do and do not want in a relationship, or how to deal with depression. Now because of this painful experience, they have learned how to navigate emotional obstacles and have learned to be more selective when choosing a significant other. In the future, they ideally will not have to suffer from this again in the same way, because they have learned how to avoid it. Pain, in a lot of ways, is a precursor to learning. As humans, we want to minimize pain to the maximum degree and this forces us to learn how to avoid it as much as possible.
If what prepares our children to a world without us is to expose them, then why would we do any different for ourselves? Exposure to new ideas is the process of taking on the battle of your perspective versus another in pursuit of what is right and doing so willingly. The transcendence through this thought, is what prepares us to better navigate the world.
In opposition, we have the idea of struggling to expose ourselves to ideas, as it is painful, and this is no small matter. We have to be sure mental health is not compromised in the pursuit of exposure in so far as it disables us from moving forward. This is a difficult boundary to establish, and is different for everyone. The best advice I can give is to compare it to running. To get better at running, you want to push yourself as hard as you can, while avoiding injury that prevents you from running the next day. If you run one day and cannot run the next, you do yourself no favors of growth because now time is needed for recovery.
Push to the extremity but ensure you can repeat it tomorrow- that seems to be the best relative rule one could set. Expose yourself to new ideas, minimize injury. One must be conscious of their own health when exploring the world because it is dangerous and can harm us to the degree that we are unable to move forward. That is to be avoided at all costs.
We need to expose ourselves to new ideas in the world. It is how we prepare ourselves to operate autonomously and effectively. Through this confrontation of ideas and experiences we grow to overcome depression, anxiety, social issues, political issues, marital selection etc. This process is one we have to be careful in because the world is very dangerous and can harm us; so we tread lightly, attempting not to do something that will disable us from moving forward for extended periods of time. Existing and exploring ideas can be harmful, but with the true pursuit of the truth and well-being at hand, we all have the capacity to overcome it. We are much stronger than we realize.