By Emiko Suzuki
Hey everyone! How are you doing all in 2017?
As we are in the fresh start of a new year, we all probably have new resolutions that we want to achieve. But sometimes these things that we really want to do may be against the social norm, and we find it difficult to act on them.
So today, I want to share some scientific insight why you should not really listen to other people so seriously and pursue what your instinct is telling you.
Every self-help book that I read tells me that “I should be myself” and “I should do my own thing”. Theoretically I know this, but I find it very hard to act on them, especially when the people around me start telling me that I am wrong!
Why are they telling me this? What is really happening on their side when they tell me I am wrong?
They are seeing the world through their lens
Traditional popular belief in psychology was that human beings are detached observers of the outside world. We used to believe that we interpret the world as it is without any conflict. However, recent psychology states that the opposite is close to truth. Most of us have some sort of bias when trying to make sense of the world around us. When they are telling you that you are wrong, maybe it is just that you are acting against their value.
They make sense of the objective event according to their belief
Not only we see the world through conflicted perspective, our reasoning system for the objective events is also conflicted. We like to think that we have rational reason to support our behavior or events that happen to us. For an example, when asked “why did you pick these shoes?”, we like to think that we have logical answer for it, such as the weather was appropriate etc. However, recent psychology has revealed that, in fact, most of our thought process tends to point from belief to evidence. In other words, we have a belief first (“I am wearing these shoes today”) then think of reasons. In a scientific term, it is called “motivated reasoning” (Mlodinow, 2012, P. 201). This shapes the way we understand and interpret our environment, especially our social environment, and it helps us justify our preferred beliefs. When they are telling you that you are wrong, maybe they personally just don’t like it and try to rationalize their own belief by telling you all the possible reasons why you are wrong.
So what is going on when they tell me that I am wrong? Well, they are seeing you through their conflicted eyes, trying to make sense of your action in their own term. They may tell you all the reasons why you are wrong using generalized statements. But the truth is that most of the time, it only reflects that they are uncomfortable with it. It is their problem.
So don’t listen to them too straight. Rather let’s listen to you.
You are powerful.
Mlodinow, L. (2012). Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior. Vintage Books.