How Things that Affect Me Impact The Way I Affect Things

How Things that Affect Me Impact The Way I Affect Things February 9, 2021

I realize the title is a mouthful, so you have either decoded it or are very curious. We will take it one phrase at a time. This is basically a blog about how important it is to try to recognize the factors that have influenced who we are and how we think. One of the reasons this matters is because the way we have been influenced (partly) determines the way we influence.

You may have heard the phrase “hurt people hurt people”. You may have wondered how and why, despite your best efforts, you do things and say things much like your parents. A lot of the way we treat others can be traced to the way we were treated. This is why counselors are so focused on childhood and family dynamics, asking questions like, “how old do you feel” when you are anxious or angry. What happens to us has an affect. It churns a worldview and expectations within us. One that affects how we treat others.

I am a sucker for reality television shows. And some of my favorites are the ones that include a “jury” – Survivor, Big Brother, etc. These shows are fascinating because the jury has to decide who the winner is. And the jury is always bitter. They have to be. They came on this show dreaming of winning. But they lost. And it is the fault of other contestants. That stings. And now, they have to turn around and decide which of the people who are responsible for getting rid of them deserve the title of winner. It is fascinating to watch.

How Bias Forms

Our biases and predispositions do not happen in a vacuum. They develop from a variety of factors – personal experience, race, gender, geographic location, repetition, etc.

When things happen to me, they become evidence of reality. I see and feel what I see and feel. Here is a quick example: I was reading a book recently that talked about how people in Oklahoma who have never had their home destroyed in a tornado are hesitant to heed tornado warnings. Why? Because home has always been a safe place for them. They have hunkered down and their home has protected them. So all they know of reality is that their home survives. This is why people think car accidents or murders or winning the lottery are not likely to happen to them. Because it is not something we have experienced, it is hard to imagine it truly happening.

So, our bias forms after these repetitions of experience. The way people treat us. The kinds of people we are around. Humor. Expressions of anger. Depression. Alcohol. We watch and gather these like little computers. We mash it all together and develop a worldview of expectations – this is how it is. Even when we know it is bad or that things could get better, our experience has taught us how things really are.

If we are not mindful of these realities, we are destined to repeat them. If we do not acknowledge our biases and the challenges with choosing a different way, our expectations will reinforce themselves through our subtle and subconscious attitude, perspective, and action.

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