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Do you consciously or unconsiously adjust your judgement and actions

>> 18 July 2008

We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails 
-- Bertha Calloway

This morning the word ADJUST popped into my mind.

According to the Free Dictionary it means:
  1. To change so as to match or fit; cause to correspond.
  2. To bring into proper relationship.
  3. To adapt or conform, as to new conditions: "unable to adjust themselves to their environment"
  4. To bring the components of into a more effective or efficient calibration or state: adjust the timing of a car's engine.
  5. To adapt oneself; conform.
  6. To achieve a psychological balance with regard to one's external environment, one's needs, and the demands of others.
And my thought took the train:
  • A tree adjusts the growth of its branches to twist around an obstacle. It adapts its growth path if planted askew on a cliff and finds its balance.
  • The earth adjusts to the ever changing course of the swelling river.
  • The virus adjusts to the medication human invent to counter it.
  • The animal adjusts to its changing habitat and climate by adopting new ways of living.
  • The shore adjusts its pattern according to the waves that hit it.
Adjusting means CHANGE. And humans are known to fear change. And our amazing ego's always cry out 'Why should I change?'

Whenever we encounter a situation or person that is, at first glance, different from what we believe in, what we think we are, what we stand for, we have the immediate tendency to judge. If we meet someone who we know is a teacher, a bus driver or CEO of a big company, we are influenced by or lead to expect things according to their social position because of what this position means in our society.

And once a situation or person judged, we find it difficult to change this preconception. It becomes a prejudice and means that we are making a decision before becoming aware of the relevant facts of a case or event. Sometimes we were taught such prejudices by our parents and social surrounding. Sometimes we simply judge people or situations because of our bad mood that morning, because we are stressed, because we do not have the time to listen to them.

More often than not, we find out that we were wrong.

So why do we have this tendency to put a stamp on everything we see or meet? Do we do this consciously or unconsciously?

According to Freud, the mind can be divided into two main parts:

The conscious mind includes everything that we are aware of. This is the aspect of our mental processing that we can think and talk about rationally. A part of this includes our memory, which is not always part of consciousness but can be retrieved easily at any time and brought into our awareness. Freud called this ordinary memory the preconscious.

The unconscious mind is a reservoir of feelings, thoughts, urges, and memories that outside of our conscious awareness. Most of the contents of the unconscious are unacceptable or unpleasant, such as feelings of pain, anxiety, or conflict. According to Freud, the unconscious continues to influence our behavior and experience, even though we are unaware of these underlying influences.

Whether we do this consciously or not, we should try to enter each situation and encounter each person with an OPEN MIND. What is our role in this encounter? One of the major reference points when thinking about role is our appreciation of ourselves. We need to consider the sorts of values that we should be appealing to e.g. respect for persons, the promotion of well-being, a commitment to the search for truth, the fostering of democracy, and embracing fairness and equality. It also entails thinking about our intention – which may be different in each situaiton – and the sort of environment that needs to be cultivated.

Do we need to and can we adjust our point of view, our thoughts and behaviour enough in order to really HEAR the other person? Can we open up our minds enough to really listen, to not judge? Do we want to just win an argument or are we really looking for the facts? Do we speak our minds? Do we know our minds? Do we have (conscious or unconscious) preconceived ideas about a subject or person?

It is well known that people don't always 'speak their minds', and it is suspected that people don't always 'know their minds'.

Go to Project Implicit where you will have the opportunity to assess your conscious and unconscious preferences for over 90 different topics ranging from pets to political issues, ethnic groups to sports teams, and entertainers to styles of music. At the same time, you will be assisting psychological research on thoughts and feelings.

Take a demo test.


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