Do others see you through the eyes of prejudice? Do you victimize others by thinking you see them clearly when you do not? Some quotes to think about:
This post is related to this WordPress Daily Prompt: A Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma. Tell us something most people probably don’t know about you.
Actually, more than the prompt, I found a response to my two previous blog posts promoting sexual rules provoking me to write a bit about prejudice. One person expressed outrage at the posts and only saw part of me. That caught both of us in the snare of prejudice.
Prejudice is a view of another person based on an incomplete picture of who they are. Dividing people into groups that let you think you know all about the people in the group is the stuff of prejudice and the fears that accompany it. See only color in thinking about a person – racism at work. See only religion and another prejudice at work. The list goes on and on.
Think you are not prejudice? Think again. We all are victims and dispensers of prejudice. Prejudice fuels fear and fear fuels anger. When angry you are in danger of victimizing others.
Jerome Kagan is the current human development theorist I respect the most. The sages of Torah and Shakespeare are my earlier favorites. Kagan made me a fan with his stance on uncertainty as a prime reason we do what we do. He was not the only theorist to see this, but the one who finally seemed to work the most carefully in exploring this idea and other theories. I also liked him because he challenges much of the popular thinking about how we become who we become and mis-informs much mental health treatment.
Kagan makes the point that the infant takes in his or her environment and assumes that what s/he sees is what should be. Then around the age of three, those early images form the filter through which new or different experiences are judged. Many judgments reflect parental or cultural teachings, but many do not and are the child’s personal way of trying to make sense of life.
This relates to prejudice in the following ways.
- All humans have an inborn genetically based fear of the unknown -fear of the dark, fear of the strange, fear of the new, and fear of the different. These fears are part of Nature’s survival tools. Such fears fuel our fight or flight reactions.
- These fears are uncertainties about what is happening or going to happen.
- Fears and uncertainties fuel unpleasant feelings and push us to act to bring back a sense of safety. Blaming, getting angry and attacking the person or thing creating uncertainty is one consequence. Blaming yourself and feeling guilt, shame, weak or incompetent is another consequence. When you blame yourself you might also seek to better at controlling the behaviors that you think are at fault.
Several years of wrestling with how we become who we become lead me to pull together many ideas. This picture depicts my model, but only partly.
Some quick definitions are also in order.
- Nature refers to our genetic make-up, but also the changes brought to our biology by disease, injury, and trauma.
- Nurture refers to what we experience in our environments as we grow, but also as adults; earlier experiences do seem to be more powerful, but drastic changes in our beings and behavior can and do occur across every life stage.
- Beliefs refers to the ideas we form that guide our thoughts and actions as we traverse life and try to make sense out of what happens to us.
- Behavior is self-evident as what we do, but is often left out to the mix and it strongly shapes who we are.
Warning: My goal has always been to share knowledge in a way most can understand, and therefore may seem simplistic. It is my hope that what I share will lead you to explore your ideas more fully, particularly those that make you the person you are – self-awareness = emotional intelligence.
EMOTIONAL FITNESS TIPS
Emotional fitness tip one: The more passionate you feel the more likely you are responding from your heart and personal experience and those are fertile soil for the seeds of prejudice.
Emotional fitness tip two: The more angrily someone attacks you the more they are responding from their heart and personal experiences and the more likely prejudice of one kind or another is operating.
Emotional fitness tip three: The fear and anger created by prejudices are best dealt with by facing them, staying calm, practicing kindness, looking for truth in the other people’s view of things, and remembering what matters.
Not at all easy, but more hopeful for personal happiness and for creating peace on earth than fighting or fleeing.
THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO
Remember sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness is to share this post if you found it helpful. Share it even if it doesn’t speak to you, it will speak to some. Didn’t like it? Comment and tell me why and how to improve.
LINKS OF INTEREST
These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.
- Emotional Intelligence (en.wikipedia.org)
- The five components of emotional Intelligence (www.sonoma.edu)
- An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents (amazon.com)
- Easy Emotional Fitness Exercises.