Encountering new ideas leads to a variety of reactions. They range between idealizing and rejection.
The space between the extremes is the place where there is a real encounter with the idea. It’s where the persons struggle with understanding the idea and finding the part they can integrate. It’s the effort to solve the dilemma between their experience without and with that idea. The extremes, on the other hand, are the ranges in which people either protect their identity or replace it with the idea.
Both are ways to find more security.
The idea to fully integrate an idea into one’s identity allows following someone or something telling how to live.
Rejecting an idea allows staying exactly as we are. It avoids the perceived risk that even connecting with the idea can impact one’s own identity.
The extreme cases are rare. What they help see, is why ideas can trigger defense mechanism when there is a perceived threat. They also show how the need for help or guidance can lead to giving up one’s own wish to decide for oneself.
It’s something that appears regularly in any learning context.
Those seeking to follow will protect some part of the learning. It can be the leader or the content. They’ll protect it against anything they perceive as a critical view. they now fear any possible damage to the identity they are taking up.
Those seeking to protect themselves from change will find some part of the learning they can fight with. It can be the way the teaching happens or the content.
The hard work is to help participants find the security to develop curiosity.