Think Critically – Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

Malcom X

Malcolm X  is one of my heroes, because as the quote demonstrates, he didn’t get locked into Either/or positions. He was a critical thinker, what some call a “Yes/and” thinker.

Either/or thinking closes off richness by limiting the options to two possibilities.   Not useful.  I agree with those who think the more views of the territory, the more accurate the map.

Either/or statements make better sound bytes, are easier to frame and put people who define themselves as one or the other at odds. Something the media enjoys doing.

Our either/or views often reflect our earliest beliefs.  Children under the age of six form a core set of beliefs about the world.  The infant explores what is and is a learning machine.  S/he will come at about the age of six or seven to solidify that learning into a more global belief: “What is Ought to Be.”  Contradictory ideas get rejected because they are more threatening and less comforting.

A child’s “What is” is formed by  three things:

  1. Biology, meaning both  genetic predispositions including temperament,  and  those biological  events  such as illness, trauma, brain injuries that change a  person.
  2. The voices of authority heeded by the child; the more those surrounding a child teach and preach the same thing, the more powerful the teaching–why fundamental religious groups want to control education and often separate their young from broader societal influences if at various with their doctrines.
  3. The child’s personal experiences.  Something as simple as being the first-born child leads to different beliefs about what is and  about right and wrong,  particularly as taught by voices of authority.

Believing “What is ought to be” sometimes undergoes revision during adolescence.  This is when many become capable of thinking broadly and comparing contradictions among previous beliefs. However, not all think more broadly. Some are limited by their genes, not a politically correct thought, but intelligence is partially genetically based. Others have been traumatized, and trauma dampens critical thinking.

My point? We are programmed to think either/or. However, there is good news. Most of us can learn to think more broadly.  The more we do so, the more we walk paths of peace.

Emotional Fitness Training Tips

Tip one: Become aware of either/or thinking.  Such thinking is most likely to occur when you feel most passionate about something.

Tip two: When you feel most passionate, think “Maybe” or “Possibly” or “Complicated.”

Tip three: When thinking passionately always  try to think of at least one yes/and position. An example: Any political ranting from the left or right. Both have thought out positions, and if you follow either closely, you will discover you agree with the opposition about one or two things.

We rely on long-established beliefs to help guide us along life paths.  It helps to think the floor or ground beneath our feet is solid.  It usually is. It is not helpful, when we categorize groups of people; for people are comlicated which makes  “Yes/and” thinking  better tool when trying to walk the path to peace. 

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Note to all: This post represents the first of my Throwback Thursday blog posts. That means I will use anold post as the template for a new post. Gives me an easier posting day.

Post Inspiration: This post was not inspired by this WordPress Daily  One Word Prompt: Facade. However, it helps to remember judging a person on what their appearances or race or religion, if seeing only part of a that person and a facade.

Go here to learn more about the Daily Prompts.

Links of Interest

These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.

Even the most learned researchers and therapists quarrel about much.  Take their advice and mine carefully.  Don’t just listen to your heart, but also think; don’t just think, listen to your heart.  Heart and head working together increase the odds you will find useful advice amid all the promises and hopes pushed at you be others.  As others have noted, take what seems useful, leave the rest.

Disclamer two: Forgive my grammatical errors

If  you need perfect posts, you will not find them  here;  I will understand if you don’t follow, like or share what  like me.  Not only am I dealing with an aging brain, but all of my life I have been plagued by dysgraphia–a learning disability,  Some of my posts might be peppered with bad spelling, poor punctuation, and worse words that make no sense.  If  you want to hang in with me, thank you; you are kind. If a post doesn’t make sense or bugs you too much, stop reading, I will understand.

Agree or disagree, comments are always welcomed.

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