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Prejudices, the trap of simplification: pigeonhole thinking: 4 + 10 tips against the sluggish brain

Many people want simple solutions in an increasingly complex world. Our brain is tricking us into doing this. What can we do about it?

Simplification and its consequences

People tend to generalize their own point of view and think in terms of categories. This is due to the brain, which wants to process information as quickly as possible.

Where this can lead was shown in many places on social media, especially in shitstorms, in political discussions and in the election success of populist politicians. But the tendency towards simplifying things that seem economical has disadvantages, because sometimes life is just not that easy.

Drawer thinking - where it comes from

Because faster than you think, you have categorized things or pigeon-holed people. The reason for this: Our brain is lazy and wants to work as economically as possible. But this can make everything unnecessarily difficult.

"The colleague is always so rude!" “The weather is always bad!” or "I made a mistake - I am completely incapable!" - these are sentences that many people probably think several times a day:

How generalization arises: the brain is lazy!

You have a bad experience or a negative experience repeats itself - like the colleague who didn't greet you twice in the hallway. But instead of saying: "Well, she's having a bad day a few times", many people generalize such events and the colleague becomes an unfriendly bitch.

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The reason for this can be found in the brain. A multitude of stimuli storms on people every day. The brain only absorbs a small part of this mass of sensory impressions. Not by chance, however: the brain primarily selects information that it can incorporate into existing thought patterns.

People perceive their environment selectively!

In plain English: What we perceive is very much influenced by our convictions, our previous experiences, attitudes and interests. In addition, stimuli that trigger strong emotions are processed faster and better than information that you are not emotionally involved with.

So what people remember is by no means objective but very selective. If the brain did not work so economically, it could not cope with all the stimuli - the human being would simply be overwhelmed.

Simplified thinking: be careful with prejudices!

It is therefore, in certain limits, even to simplify and generalize meaningfully. This allows you to process new information more quickly than if you were trying to really take into account all aspects - after all, it is very important in the job that you are able to correctly assess new situations or other people.

Problems arise from these simplifications whenever prejudices become stuck in people's minds: for example, when you are nice gestures The always so unfriendly colleague no longer perceives and firmly believes in what one persuades himself in this way. Or if every little mistake already has a complete failure in mind.

Check your own expectations through the power of philosophy

Then the only thing that really helps is to check your own expectations and look at things in a more differentiated manner. And with a little practice that can be achieved, as journalist and author Ines Veith thinks. For Veith it is the philosophy that helps to reflect on one's own thinking, to overcome prejudices and to even out differences - for each individual in everyday life as well as in big politics. Because the basis of the philosophy is emergence, the interaction of all systems.

Not least for this reason, the author initiated the Sophie Park in Bad Liebenzell in the northern Black Forest, which, through the interplay of works of art and nature, brings walkers closer to the world of philosophy of the last 2500 years on the basis of 10 subject areas and thus also aims to reach those people who who might not otherwise concern themselves with philosophy.

4 philosophical tips: Reflection against prejudice

A compass of values ​​for life emerged from her own work, which is based on four pillars and goes hand in hand, the essences of philosophy, as Veith explains:

  1. Think in terms of friendships instead of enmities: It is about finding a balance and overcoming differences and disputes.
  2. Balance polarities instead of cementing them: Because everything in life has its causes, everything flows and it makes a big difference to start the day with gratitude instead of anger.
  3. Be Compassionate: Empathy is the core competence for social behavior, instead of hardening one should practice empathy.
  4. Defense against damage: Ultimately, however, it is also important to ward off harm to yourself while at the same time not harming anyone yourself.

10 practical tips against stereotyped thinking in everyday life

Unfortunately, in hectic everyday life, it is not always so easy to reflect on all thoughts and feelings and very few have the leisure to read philosophical works. What can then help are walks in the park and mindful thinking. 10 tips on how you can help with practical everyday exercises:

  1. No generalized vocabulary! Do words like “never” or “always” appear frequently in your vocabulary? Avoid such vocabulary in thinking and talking - the first step to a more differentiated perspective
  2. Consider each event individually: Just because the colleague did not greet you yesterday and today, she does not always have to do that. Maybe she was just stressed?
  3. Examine Expectations: Do not you expect a thing like that? Check if they do not already have prejudices.
  4. Change Settings: Some things you can not change. With a positive attitude to the matter, however, much is easier.
  5. Do not categorize: Especially when getting to know new people, we like to put them in drawers. Take a closer look and review your initial assessment, if necessary.
  6. Split problem into single problems: Often one sees one, because one generalizes, only a large problem mountain. Solve problems in small individual problems that will solve you step by step.
  7. Perceive intermediate tones: You can evaluate a situation with extremes, such as “absolutely successful” or “an absolute disaster”. But if you also perceive the intermediate tones like “funny”, “ok” or “not bad”, you have a much broader spectrum.
  8. Outwit your brain: Your brain wants to work economically and only selectively perceives. Outsmart it by deliberately focusing on aspects that may not immediately catch your eye.
  9. Change habits step by step: Of course, you will not immediately succeed in changing old habits. Take your time: Change your attitude step by step.
  10. Write it down: Any changes that affect your habits will help to write them down to help you understand your attitude and progress.

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One answer to “Prejudices, simplification trap, pigeonhole thinking: 4 + 10 tips against the sluggish brain”

  1. Iris says:

    Unfortunately, how quickly our brain simplifies is often underestimated. You can see in politics every day how important the topic is.

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