Throughout my daily life, I notice parts of me responding to situations, people, and trains of thought. Mostly, these parts respond with judgments. They are not aligned with my “global” or conscious view. And they come from my culture.
I notice them. Flash on where they come from. Notice what’s more true for me. And they are gone.
WHAT ARE THESE THOUGHTS?
As mentioned, these thoughts are mostly judgments.
She is fat. (And that’s bad.) He is ugly. (Bad.)
She is young, slim, and attractive. (Good.) He is well dressed. (Good.)
If I eat fast food, I am one of those people. (Bad.)
They are at that restaurant, so they must be sophisticated. (Good.)
He is Muslim. (Dangerous.) She looks unkept. (Not good.)
And so on.
WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?
So why does this happen?
It’s because we learn from others. Our mind absorbs whatever is out there in the culture – from family, school, friends, media, movies, books, lyrics, and so on.
And the more often we are exposed to it, and the more charge it has (even if we just see it having charge for the other person), the more likely it is to go in and come up again.
The job of our mind is to absorb it all and then give it back to us whenever it’s relevant. (And sometimes when it’s not obviously relevant!)
It’s natural and essentially innocent.
RELATE TO IT MORE CONSCIOUSLY
Although if we join in with these thoughts and act on them, that can be quite harmful to ourselves (psychologically) and others (in life and society).
So it’s good to find a more conscious relationship to these dynamics.
I can notice these thoughts and reactions in me.
And I can find what’s more true for me than the stereotypes these thoughts typically reflect.
I can relate more intentionally to the way different parts of me respond to something.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: THE WORLD IS MY MIRROR
There is a bigger picture here.
The world is my mirror. Whatever characteristics and dynamics I see “out there” in others and the world are also here in me. They may be expressed in different situations and in different ways. And the essence is the same. (For instance, whenever I react with aversion to someone or something, the essence of that reaction is often the same as what I am reacting to. I am doing the same as what I see out there in that moment.)
And it’s all happening within my sense fields. To me, others and the world happen within and as my mental field and sometimes my other sense fields. It’s happening within and as what I am. It’s happening within and as the consciousness I am. “Out there” is really “here”. “He she it they” is really “me”.
INTERNALIZATION AND OVER-I
I like to use simple and ordinary language and avoid jargon, but I want to mention a couple of things.
This is often called internalization. We internalize our culture and it lives on in us. It’s how culture is passed on and it’s how we can have a culture in the first place.
And it’s also what Freud called the over-I or – through mistranslation – the superego. The essence of his insights is often valuable, although some of what comes from him are specific to his own culture, and there are simpler and more effective ways to do therapy.
Note: After writing this, a video on this topic popped up on YouTube. From 1-10 how racists are you (Cut). It’s good to see that many these days are aware of unconscious biases that we pick up and learn from the society we live in, and actively seek to be aware of them and counter them.Read More