Narrow Mindedness is part of life and we’ve all experienced it at some point in our life, to a greater or lesser extent.
If one has chosen to purposefully limit their perspective of life and the world around them, their choice should be respected, as long as they do not try to impose it on others.
It seems science is yet to answer what exactly makes some of us more narrow-minded than others. For the time being, however, we can take a quick look at the top ten defining characteristics of a closed mind.
1. Narrow-minded people tend to be very judgmental.
They know it all, and they always have their say about what someone else should do, say, or how they should look like. Typically, those statements are nowhere near objectivity. Judgmental people know best what their friends should be doing with their lives or where their relationships should be going.
In some extreme cases, they may even feel obliged to comment on what their neighbor should wear. Their statuses on social media are often criticizing others with no intention to give anyone at least a bit of credit. However, in some cases, their excessive criticism may backfire on them.
2. Must be (always) right.
“I told you so” is their favorite line. There is no way you can win an argument with a narrow-minded person, not to mention getting to some form of agreement. They will turn around the facts to support their opinion and will never let you have the last word.
Remember this absurd classroom rule that “The teacher is always right” with the following being that if the teacher isn’t right, refer to Rule One? Well, whoever came up with it must not have been very broad-minded.
3. Xeno/Homo/Humano… phobic.
Anything that the narrow-minded person does not understand or appears to them even slightly different is perceived as a threat. The list of targets includes, but is not limited to, immigrants, gay people, people with disabilities…
The narrow-minded person can be very good at hiding their phobias and not showing their disapproval on the surface, but deep inside they hold a mighty grudge for these social groups. Needless to say, their fears and reservations are seldom justified or reasonable.
One of the most defining characteristics of a narrow-minded person is that no matter what happens around them, they remain staunch to their habits. If, for example, a hard-headed person has been having a particularly bad fit of gout, they’d rather complain to high heaven then go and seek medical attention.
Similarly, they may spend hours complaining about their job, but they actually have no intention whatsoever to do anything to improve their situation.
When driving a car they are always swearing at other drivers, as if the road belonged to them. Their verbal outbursts, however, can sometimes escalate into brutal road rage crimes.
5. Generalizing lots.
Statements such as “All foreigners steal jobs”, “Rich people are rich because they exploit the working class”, “All politicians are liars”, “Such and such country is dangerous” and so on, are their everyday slogans.
All of the above generalizing catchphrases have been devised with the sole purpose of attracting a bunch of narrow-minded hardliners, frozen in their own stereotypes of the past. These are often repeated slogans they’ve heard from others or read in tabloids and have never bothered to cross check or verify.
Their favorite words are: “always”, “never”, “everybody”, “all”, etc, and these are mostly used to heap reproaches or throw accusations at someone.
Generalization is a very common communication strategy nowadays. The truth is that it hurts not only the people we address these slogans at, but it also backfires on us, because by doing so, we are closing our mind even more. It’s very bad energy – yeah, generally speaking!
6. Getting offended or upset easily.
Many things, even the smallest ones, can offend a narrow-minded person. A girl in a bar who wore something they’d never dare; a friend’s friends who didn’t pay them the attention they think they deserve, a taxi driver who didn’t say “Thank you for the tip”, etc.
While it is normal to get pissed of if an annoying situation is happening over and over again, there are days when we just get out of bed on the wrong side and then everything appears to be against us – from our colleagues and our boss to the elements outside. You are just a human being and it would be very narrow-minded of you to think that you’re not allowed to moan from time to time!
7. They’re dishonest and have trust issues.
These two usually go hand in hand. Obviously, I am not talking about situations when you don’t trust someone because your gut feeling is telling you not to, neither when your lack of trust is the result of a traumatic experience in the past.
In the circumstances described above, it’s absolutely understandable and OK to have certain reservations to people you meet for the first time. However, if you don’t trust anyone by default, perhaps it’s time to think things over. Some people are worth your trust and may feel offended if you keep them at bay.
8. Giving up on people too easily.
Narrow-minded people tend to part ways with their friends more easily than they can make new ones. And this is not because these people have done something terrible, but because they were not as perfect as their narrow-minded friend expected them to be.
They did well in pretty much everything; they were kind, respectful to you and funny, but they did that one single thing which overshadowed your whole relationship with that person. Here, we may argue that your reaction is a matter of maturity and perhaps that’s the case at times. Nonetheless, when you’re a grown up and still choose to focus on the negative things instead of the positive ones, you should reconsider your philosophy of life.
9. Live by their stereotypes.
They will listen to only one type of music, eat only food from their country even when they travel abroad, see only people within their social circle, etc. On the one hand, there is nothing wrong with preferring one thing over another as long as you’re happy. On the other hand, you’re the one who may miss out on different life opportunities. Narrow-mindedness is when you do that one thing and impose your preferences on those around you.
10. Having an agenda.
They call their friends only when they need something or they feel lonely because their partner is away. Otherwise, you don’t hear from them. They want you in their life only because you got something they want to make use of, or because hanging out with you will make them feel better about themselves.
The above are only some of the most typical characteristics of a narrow-minded character. In a way, we all are narrow-minded to a greater or lesser extent. Coming from a very judgmental society, it took me years to overcome my prejudices and learn not to get upset whenever I see people doing things in the way I’d never do. I still struggle at times. Nonetheless, it’s still worth the effort, because the more open-minded you become the better you feel about yourself.
And here is a small definition to nail it.
Narrow-minded people seldom think independently.
Instead, they prefer to repeat what they’ve heard. Open-minded people, on the other hand, prefer to use their best judgment before they decide to follow a particular trend or chose a role model.