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How to change perceptions and
find modern definitions of what is
“normal”, based on facts ?

TEDx Brussels Women

Article by Andreea Hirica

If a couple of years ago the European elite at the leading edge of innovation was all about the disruption: of established, antiquated patterns, of outdated perceptions, labels and beliefs. The first edition of TEDxBrusselsWomen, sets a new tone:

“It’s about time,

… to start what?

To reconstruct definitions and make different
choices. To build new grounds, lead the change and
be the transformation.

“To abandon simple solutions and slogans and grapple the nuances” invites Rosie Spinks introducing her Mounty Women project.

To rebuild definitions inspires Michele LeVoy sharing her own Irish ancestry and emigration story. “Definition is a powerful thing”, she explains; “in times of fear and anxiety negative definitions are more likely to appear. We study history so that we can learn to think critically about the present. History tells us that this is the only way in which labels can and will change“. It’s time for people to “feel empowered to change definitions and labels that are outdated and inaccurate”. To replace them with the holistic lenses of complexity, diversity and inclusion.

And maybe the most wonderful change management case to a TEDx Women event comes from a man: Lode Dewlf .

Starting from the current fact that “a pregnancy without any problems is quite rare”, Lode makes one of the most powerful perception shift cases. And shares simple steps that each of us can take in order to:

Reconstruct new definitions

“We need to renormalize and update the definition of ‘normal’. There is a tremendous amount of tension on how a normal pregnancy ‘should’ be, how we ‘should’ view it and how people ‘should’ interact with the concept”, Lode explains

So how do we reassemble new definitions? “By changing the tensions into attention: as long as I moralize the women who have pregnancy problems, I will fail them. If, however, I focus on supporting and encouraging them, I manage to create a move”. We should always remember the healing power of feeling normal (accepted, included, OK). However, “morals never move by themselves. It’s people that have to transform the tension into attention and move them.

For this, Knowledge is a powerful change ally

And Lode takes on the challenge to demystify the commonly spread fertility belief that chances to easily conceive for women over 30 years old dramatically decrease. The study was done, he enlightens the audience, in the 18th century by scholars who researched the church archives and statistically measured the age of women when giving birth. Recent studies, however, show that 82% of women had naturally conceived between the age of 34 - 39 and that mark was only 4% lower than what has been observed in the 20 - 29 age group.

Knowledge about facts triggers the necessarily actions, framing the right mindsets and approaches. Once society focuses on the facts, beyond supporting the old fashion “Madam Should”, solutions to enable the new reality automatically emerge.

How can each and every one of us help changing perceptions and find modern definitions of what is “normal”, based on facts? “Imagine a future where every pregnancy is accepted the way it is. And no woman is judged for the age at which she’s expecting, the conditions of her pregnancy or how she measures up against ‘Madam Should’ ” Lode inspires.

Or as Katie Hinde, Lactation Researcher puts it:

“Just because something is evolutionary ancient, doesn’t mean it’s easy or that we are supposed to be good at from the start”

Whether you agree with this statement or not, you are right. And there are lots which rightfully so believe that nursing is easy and it is supposed to be easy. Same as there are those who believe they can and those who believe they can’t and, according to Henry Ford, they are all right. Diversity and making allowance for divergent, contrasting and paradoxical opinions to exist at the same time and space is what will take us through the timelines shift. As:

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the capacity to function”.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

And as Professor Albert Rothenberg identified: “if you hold opposites together, then you suspend your thought and your mind moves to a new level. The suspension of thought allows intelligence beyond thought to act and create a new form. The swirling of opposites creates the conditions for a new point of view to bubble free from your mind”. Source: The Creativity Post

It’s about time

To redefine definitions, labels and beliefs through the Janusian thinking of holding opposite concepts together and elasticising our minds to new heights.

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