October 11, 2016 Carole Levy

Finding the crack in our cemented opinions

When we get stuck in our opinions about others, our mind is like a block of cement. The amalgam of beliefs, perceptions, projections, gut feelings and hormones create a slab of impenetrable and immutable conclusions that block truer perspectives, possibilities, and connection.


Our rigid conclusions become an habitual burden that sits on our shoulders. We wouldn’t have to pay attention to these entrenched judgments if we didn’t have to work and live with other people, sometimes with people that we believe we don’t like.

In his song “Anthem”, Leonard Cohen suggests: “forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Twisting the metaphor, I invite you  to  forget your perfect judgments, and find the crack in your righteousness.

I have a friend who couldn’t trust one of her colleagues. She was convinced that he was only interested in serving his own needs rather than the collective interest. However, since she’s a courageous soul willing to look at her judgmental propensities, one day she decided to engage her colleague in a conversation about their pets. He shared tender feelings for his beloved cat and she genuinely realized that he cared for more than just himself. She found a crack in her thinking and it allowed her to engage in this particular relationship in a more centered way.

Finding cracks, like finding gratitude and appreciation, is a learning skill that requires modesty. It relates to the science of positive Neuro-plasticity of the brain. Instead of feeding our negative biases (that we all have for survival purposes), we look for small positive illuminations in order to re-establish a more balanced and objective view of reality.

I have another friend who has a husband with an easy going style. They work together. Typically, when there is a facilitation to deliver with some performance pressure, my friend goes into her  “cemented thinking” mode, playing old songs: “It’s all on my shoulders! I can’t count on you Baby” “You’re always lettin’ me down,” etc . But at heart, she is a good soul and even though she hasn’t been able to hold back her criticism of him, she has continued to look for a crack. One day recently, she realized that over their 15 years of marriage, she had never touched a bill, a financial accounting, a single tax document, made a reservation for dinner or airfare, or even filled out an application for their passports. It was all in his hands!  Of course, her husband has done so much more than all of this, but in a moment of “cemented thinking”, she only needed one example to create the crack. Now, she remembers that when the wave of anxiety and futility falls hard on her head, he’s a deep anchor, always on my side… Oops, did I say “my”?

So, my friends, next time you are stuck in a cemented opinion about your colleague or your partner, somebody you love or somebody you think you hate, try to find the crack. Shake it so the light can enter the thick walls of your obstinancy, and help you to be the receptive and approachable person you want to be in the world.

If you can’t find a crack, ask a good friend (or a good coach) with a loving hammer to help you. Just a little tap could do the trick!


Reflections: Would you be willing to share about a time when you found a crack in a cemented opinion? I can’t wait to hear your inspiring stories!




Comments (10)

  1. Ross Peterson-Veatch

    While I’m not ready to share specifics in such a public forum, I will say that some recent decisions I’ve had to make have made it hard not to put some of my colleagues at work in such a box. Just in the last few days, though, I’d say your metaphor of the crack has happened for all of us in ways that create possibility. I agree – you just need that little crack to see what’s really happening – and it makes all the difference to building the trust required to take risks together.

    Thanks for the post!

    — Ross

    • Thanks for the comment Ross. Making tough decisions, not putting people into a box, create spaciousness in our opinions… that’s a delicate balance. I hear you!

  2. Rick Manella

    A timely message. Difficult to see our cement when we feel, see, or look for others cement. It seems safer, but really isn’t. Their’s always looks bigger in the heat of the moment. Of this walls are built that entomb. We do need caring people to help us see and forgive anew, others and ourselves… we all really aren’t that much different in this regard.

    Thank you!

    • Yes, it’s interesting how genuine care has a melting power (and can dissolve cement, to pursue the metaphor). Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Rick!

  3. Jean-Pierre Guilhaume

    I love your metaphor!
    As someone very handy, I know how to make concrete.
    Thanks to you, I ‘ll keep a hammer close to my bucket of solidified thoughts.

    I am wondering who your friends are!?

    Many thanks for your wised and colorfull ways to apprehend reality.

    • Your comment reminds me of the distinction between a solidified thought that “rigidifies”, and a solid thought that “re-centers”, like a anchor. Another important metaphor in the world of practical wisdom! Thanks Jean-Pierre for your contribution to this post!

  4. Susan Isa Efros

    This is a great metaphoric reminder about getting stuck and unstuck from our cemented thoughts. Though I have to admit it seems like an impossible challenge when addressing the despicable Mr. T. What are your thoughts on this one? Maybe instead of a hammer I need a wrecking ball. Thanks Carole for your continued insight and humor.

  5. Such a perfect message–perfect on Yom Kippur too. I love your cartoons! So, I think about this a lot, I have so many judgements that run through my head. The crack occurs when I question them and then don’t actually believe these judgmental thoughts. Then I have room to see the truth–which is always so much sweeter and connecting. It’s a thought by thought process!

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