Most people don’t usually take control of that moment: too often we react instantly, automatically, impulsively. This is a huge reason wrong thinking occurs.
I’m not talking about identifying objects, I’m talking about assigning meaning to experiences or observations—often incorrectly.
For instance: someone makes a comment about you, and you interpret the comment as an attack. You begin defending yourself, and in the ensuing interaction, harsh words are spoken, maybe even worse. I’ve experienced this phenomenon many times, on both the giving and receiving end of the error.
Or maybe you see someone at work, or on the street, and you automatically form an impression about that person in your mind, which may bear no relation to who they really are;
Or you read a post in a forum, and you create this story in your mind about another person, without having any idea what’s actually going on in their life;
Or you’re thinking about something someone said yesterday, and you decide “that must mean she doesn’t like me,” and then all your ensuing thoughts proceed along that assumption, though it may not be true;
Or you hear a rumor about some guy cheating on his wife, and you instantly form a judgment about the guy, though there’s no proof he actually did it yet;
Such examples pop up all day, every day, everywhere. Snap-judgments, knee-jerk reactions. Mental habits, thought-patterns. “Automatic pilot” thinking.
Like the man on the bus with the kids jumping around and screaming, and you’re thinking how inconsiderate it is, and you ask him to please rein his kids in; and he apologizes and explains that their mother died that day, and they don’t know how to handle their loss; and you feel awful.
In the moment after the phenomenon occurs, we have an opportunity, before our automatic judgment or evaluation kicks in: we can pause a moment, deliberately choose to exercise right thinking, and ask ourselves: is this really true, or is it just some story I instantly created? Is my idea of this person reality, or is it just a fabrication of my mind?
Why not practice ‘Observing without Evaluating? Going through experiences without labelling them.
While being on ‘Auto Pilot’ is a necessary condition for most of our day-to-day actions, when it gets in the way of our personal growth it is time to take control.
This is particularly required to improve the quality of your relationships.
Are you ready?