Dynamic thinking vs. Static belief

I was having a conversation with an acquaintance the other day when this thought came to me.  [These are thoughts that I had with no training in psychology nor assumption of correctness.]

The human brain works under the concept of categorization and labeling.  We learn and interpret our environment that way.  We teach our children that way.  We live our lives that way.

Making the leap from this inherent aspect of our humanness to a nonjudgmental thought process is incredibly difficult for our brains, even if it doesn’t seem so to us.  I also don’t think it quite works as many think, with the disappearance of judgement completely.  We still categorize everything we see.  We still label everyone and everything.  It’s simply how our brains work.

Along with categorization, though, we learn to think.  We learn to identify those things that look or sound like they should be one thing, but are another entirely.  If we didn’t have this ability, we wouldn’t have homonyms.  It’s still categorization, but we realize that the initial category might not be  the right fit.  So we have the ability to categorize something, then move it to another category.  This is a dynamic process where thoughts are moving and processing.  For this to work, we must be willing to accept that things do and will change.

For many people, that acceptance of change is a very hard concept.  These people have an incredibly hard time changing from one category to another.  Once a category has been chosen, then that must always be the category, regardless of new information.  As an example, you see the child trying to shove the round peg into a square hole.  (Yes, I know it’s trite.)  But think about it.  The child has made the decision that this round peg is categorized as a square; so it must fit in the square hole.  The child will learn to re-categorize the piece into a round peg and so put it in the “correct slot”.  But any early-learning specialist will tell you that it takes longer for some, and others are very quick to change.  When someone has such a difficult time changing the category of any one thing, I call it static belief.  Because they categorized something a certain way, they believe it must always be so.

Let’s take that into adulthood.

Two people walking down the street and they see a large German Shepard (or any other large dog) on a leash.  Both of these people have been taught that German Shepards are mean, vicious attack dogs.  They have been taught that these dogs attack without provocation and it is best to kill or injure them before they can hurt you.  One of these people is a dynamic thinker(DT).  That person takes in the surroundings: the dog is on a leash, the owner is calm, there are other people walking around the dog with no problems.  Although very scared, this person is not automatically categorizing the animal as an imminent threat.  This DT might have originally, but was able to collect clues from the environment to change the category.  The DT may re-categorize the animal as dangerous later, but is open to a change at this point.

The static believer(SB), on the other hand, is overwhelmed by fear.  This person has categorized the dog as an imminent threat and reacts accordingly, based on teaching and personality.  The SB might run away.  The SB might attack the dog to protect him/herself or others.  Although there are numerous clues in the environment that the animal does not fit the original category, the SB is blind to them.  This may be willful ignorance, but it might not.  It might be an inability to re-categorize the animal.

Now, throughout all of this, I am not and will never say that a person is not capable of learning the skill of re-categorization (which I equate to the ability to be nonjudgmental).  I do think that it is very hard for some people to learn in the first place.  And there will always be those that choose to remain ignorant of their own volition.  But raising our children (yes, this is a blanket statement meaning all children, since I personally do not have children nor plan to have them) to be dynamic thinkers versus static believers should be a goal for all of us who come into contact with children.

But that is what I was thinking the other day.

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~ by theartistryofthebipolarbrain on April 24, 2012.

3 Responses to “Dynamic thinking vs. Static belief”

  1. truth is, I think most people internally judge or categorize because we are prone to do that. But I think that the people who put that aside and accept others without any of that influencing them are truly good people. But I don’t think just because it isn’t expressed that it’s not there. My mother has every holiday with her brother, my uncle at her home. She has known that he is gay for a while and that he has HIV. She would never react to him in a negative judgmental way. But my mother thinks that being gay is a perversion. and a horrible act. But she would never tell that to my uncle.

  2. I share your sentiments on the idea of static belief. I feel people in various situations invest in this static belief and perceptions they have rather than to challenge them which would help them come closer to truth. I feel once you have accepted you ‘know’ something, you have stopped investigating, and truly don’t know anymore. There are very few truths to me that stick:

    These ones do for me though:

    “I think therefore I am” – Descartes

    “The one thing I know: Is that I know nothing” – Socrates

    • From your comment, I would take you for a philosopher and scientist, so your quotes make perfect sense. I know I am as guilty of static belief as anyone else, but I try to recognize it and move past it. I think is where so many people in this world fail.

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