We all make snap judgements… we look at situations and, based on a gut feel or instinct, we decide what to do. There is no rationality involved in these judgements.
Our society is in a bad way, with polarised, YES/No dominating public dialogues, poisoning social media and making our children suicidal. Massive corporations use it to drive the fear that makes us apex consumers and generates huge profits. But it denies us access to our deeper, inventive and adaptable selves… it effectively stops us from being who we are.
There may have been rational thought behind our judgements earlier in our individual lives. We may have been in similar situations many times, thought long and hard about what we saw and experienced, and reacted accordingly. Having seen many examples, we now trust that process, ignore subtle differences and go for the same response, over and over. But snap judgements are essentially short-cuts using emotion, not thought.
When you consider that, you can begin to see how our judgement can hurt us. Especially when it is directed at ourselves. Whenever we try something new, we fail quite a lot, quickly establishing a pattern of failures. It becomes easy to then instantly say, ‘I can’t do that,’ when put into a similar situation later.
But it's not true. The learning curve proves that… we all start out bad at stuff and only through persistent effort to improve, and repetition aimed at improvement, do we improve our success rate until we feel confident that we can do things.
It’s important to recognise this because we are often far too quick to condemn our own efforts as doomed when we have not given ourselves any chance whatsoever to improve.
Now think about what our judgements are doing to others. Remember, there is no rational thought here, you are running a pattern, a habit. In other words, you are not engaged, you are not present, you are not thinking at all. And yet we quickly and easily shoot down ideas, suppress change and emotionally wound those around us but insisting on running these patterns instead of actually thinking about it.
If you want to dive into the mechanics of how this works, I suggest you get hold of a copy of ‘Thinking… Fast and Show’ by Daniel Kahneman.
For Creative thought to occur, it is important to suspend our judgements. Creative thought requires grey areas, uncertainty and new-ness… without these elements, we merely engage in more fast thinking and pattern recognition. The entire enterprise of creative thought is to ESCAPE these patterns seek new answers. And the first step is to suspend the pattern recognition engine that is JUDGEMENT.
When we slip into instant YES/NO mode, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to discover new aspects of our experience. We deprive others of the opportunity to learn and improve and worst of all, we reinforce the old ways, the existing patterns and established prejudices.
Amid a pandemic, populist politics and huge pressure to either be ‘for’ certain ideas or ‘against’ certain ideas, it is more important than ever to literally ‘question everything.’ We should take nothing for granted, we should slow down and think for a change.
We must resist the messages of corporations and brands telling us how to be cool, how to get laid, how to be a better human being (Hint: you must use their product to qualify). It’s time we figured out what is cool and what works for us… each and every person for themselves.
Modern capitalism requires the sort of homogeneity of thought that the cold war claimed only existed in totalitarian communist states. It’s time we started to question these ‘market forces’ and the ‘economies of scale’.
But to do that you first need to release judgement. Forget what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, let’s look rather at what is safe, what is healthy, what is looking towards a better future.
If we end up choosing for more of the same, this game will be over fairly soon.