Rationale for Living Lists: Modelling My ‘Bad’ Behaviour (new page)
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Ignorance definition: “lack of knowledge, understanding, or information about something”Cambridge English Dictionary
It’s such fun to call out the ignorance of others, isn’t it?! In the moments when we’re doing this it can feel comforting, give us a sense of superiority, make us feel more intelligent. Via the belittling of others, It can enable us to emotionally vent our frustrations about views or attitudes we hold as important.
Unfortunately, this indulgent, lopsided focus on the flawed thinking of others- propelled by the sense of superiority we can gain by being able to identify the flaws- can give us a false sense of intellectual security that we’re ‘not the ignorant ones’. A sense that we perpetually, irrevocably belong to the ‘enlightened’ group.
But, what if we all have ignorance, of something, most things, always, throughout our lives? What if ignorance, logically, is our baseline for all things at some point? Because it’s impossible to know or be aware of information we either haven’t been exposed to or, have been exposed to, but haven’t processed mentally due to varying factors? What if, more important than the possession of ignorance, is the realisation of this ignorance and taking steps to address it if it is interfering with something important or beneficial?
So, I present to you some of my own ignorant processes in an effort to de-stigmatise a natural human phenomenon that needs non-judgemental attention if we want to decrease its impact.
Tell me! What have you realised about your own processes of ignorance?
1. The Experience of Women in Society (13.1.19)
What is/was my ignorance?
From my teens to early 20s I held beliefs that the experience of women in the past was no longer relevant to the society I now lived in, not relevant to me. (☠️-ray: automatic reactions conflicting with conscious awareness) My felt and thinking reactions were unknowingly, unkindly, subtly, that many the experiences females expressed were a product of their poor judgement, poor decision making, ‘stupidity’, lack of intelligence. That the remedy for these experiences was not social change, but personal change- they needed to get ‘smarter’.
How did I act upon these beliefs?
This was varied, and possibly much more subtle and less perceptible to others than my explicit words here will suggest. (☠️-ray: external appearance vs underlying impact) If anyone who knows me, and knew me in these times is reading this, they may even disbelieve that I had, or acted in ignorance at all. I don’t have a very strong external reputation for blatant ‘ignorance’ or blatant un-empathetic thinking or conduct. Could this contrast, then, be a prompt for reflection- is ignorance less important for how a person may appear generally, but for the impact that it has?
(☠️-ray: mental and emotional processes) Mentally and emotionally I would often feel incredible judgement for women sacrificing their needs by involving themselves with men who acted stereotypically. Women who engaged in romantic or sexual encounters in which they felt uncomfortable (more common than I’d realised, by the way). Who implicitly, unconsciously accepted as factual that men are inherently, biologically less emotional, less caring, less empathetic, less gentle, more sexual and thus didn’t have the same standards for male company as they did female. Who accepted and acted upon their value being primarily contingent upon their looks, their sexual provision, their provision of caring and support rather than their own minds, their own experiences, their own needs, their own opinions, their own achievements- their whole selves. Who believed the notions that they were ‘too sensitive’, whilst invisibly, intuitively, unknowingly providing for the same ‘too sensitive’ emotional needs of those who dismissed their own.
(☠️-ray: ignorance —> unkindness) In action this judgement (and sometimes anger) would sometimes be expressed as criticism or belittling of their decisions. Instructions about how they ‘should’ act differently or think differently. Expressing my own opinions and ideologies at the expense of listening to what they had to say. In essence, I was doing this:
What was I oblivious to?
This is impossible to truly explain in a short paragraph, like all human issues, it’s complex. There are innumerable research studies, facts, figures, data, books, articles, documentaries, TV programs, movies, billions of personal accounts, exploratory analyses, arguments, billions of women with their own varied and unique experiences which will help to explain.
(☠️-ray: ignoring new information —> illogic) Simply considering the fact that all this information exists, and had I been able to use this logic at the time, it may have made me question my myopic and self-referential thinking and made me wonder, ‘Actually, is there information I’m not aware of? Can I have so much conviction in my conclusions before I’ve considered this information?’.
(☠️-ray: self-focus —> context blindness) I was oblivious to the fact that my own thinking and actions were influenced by an unusual upbringing. My male role models weren’t stereotypical. I was surrounded by constant thought, discussion, questioning. The strongest attitudes and beliefs that influenced me about gender viewed men and women as essentially the same humans and as a female I was the same human as a man. I was prompted to make my own decisions and do my own thinking- it was rare that I was instructed what to think. I was emotionally supported to learn about what was right for me, what I felt comfortable with and learn how to recognise and respect that in others. (☠️-ray: imposing own context) This absence of typical male stereotypes, the richness of thinking, learning and enquiry, the emotional intelligence I was raised with is absolutely abnormal in our society. (☠️-ray: unchallenged beliefs —> self blindness) I was also oblivious to some aspects of our culture and society that did actually have an impact on me as a female.
How did my ignorance obstruct my learning and understanding?
By imposing my judgements on others as expectations that they should ‘be like me’, (☠️-ray: mental self-focus) I was perpetually mentally focused on my own opinions and my own worldview. Opinions and a worldview which were actually only possible due to my own unique influences. (☠️-ray: negates focus on other) That mental self-focus had the impact of me not focusing on what others where expressing. My mind was frequently preoccupied with the counter-arguments, the persuasion, the condemnation or criticisms- solidifying what I already thought and already knew.
(☠️-ray: vulnerable emotional motivators) Feelings of insecurity, stupidity and threat that there may be things I don’t know impeded me from focusing on or thinking about what other people were saying that might provide new information I didn’t yet possess. And therefore impeded my questioning… Was there information I wasn’t aware of? More that I would need to know? More thinking and processing I needed to do before confirming or re-evaluating my conclusions? Might these other experiences actually be completely understandable within their context? (☠️-ray: cognitive dissonance) In essence, at these times, I wasn’t thinking, feeling or acting with the empathy I prided myself on. I wasn’t listening- I was debating. I wasn’t mentally engaging in the open-minded processes I valued in myself and others. I was keeping myself ignorant to my ignorance.
How have I learned to think and behave differently and what’s the impact?
(☠️-ray: the remedy of self-awareness) I’ve learnt to be more aware of when my own exisiting judgements and ideologies might emotionally motivate me to debate or impose, rather than consider whether there is information I don’t yet have. Therefore, I’m better able to make a choice to pay attention for what I may not know instead.
(☠️-ray: listening and questioning) I listen more frequently, challenge myself internally and, with the intention of understanding, I ask more open questions of others and in response to information I consume. Over time, these increasing habits, have exposed me to an ever-increasing breadth of new and different ideas, experiences, facts and knowledge which increases my understanding and empathy.
(☠️-ray: what actually matters) Now, when other women express experiences or attitudes I might not value, believe in or might personally make different choices about, I’m much more adept at focusing on the important thing- which is them exploring their own personally impactful experiences. The way I communicate and interact is much more effective at helping people to come to their own new understanding- If they want it, or I suspect they could benefit from alternative thinking and they’re receptive to it.
(☠️-ray: increased competence and attitude-behaviour consistency) That’s because I’m using my understanding of their frame of reference to make sense of things rather than imposing my own which is impossible to replicate for them. Essentially, I’m learning to better utilise my empathy and listening which has the self-reinforcing impact of continually lessening my ignorance and helping me to act as the open-minded person I’d like to be.
(☠️-ray: increased self-worth and self-knowledge) I feel like I have become more intelligent as well- in my theory and practice. I’ve also learnt so much about myself and made realisations about what I myself had rationalised, yet meanwhile, under the surface had had impacts on me too.
i. Learning and reflection key for ‘Living Lists’
ii. These processes aren’t issue-specific
These processes of ignorance and addressing it could be generalised to any issue, any experience that we don’t have direct experience of or knowledge about. I use it to gain understanding of myself, individual people, men’s issues, disability issues, mental health issues, drug and alcohol issues, political issues, areas of knowledge I’m unfamiliar with or could be important or useful to learn about.
ii. If you’re reading this and anything is recognisable, or you think it might be helpful:
What if, instead of condemning your inadequacies or focusing on your insecurity at the possibility of ignorance, (☠️-ray: using unpleasant emotions as cues for progress) notice that insecurity and use it as a prompt to embrace your ignorance instead? If you believe you value learning, knowledge, education, people, empathy, care, could you use those values to motivate you to get comfortable with your ignorance?
Or, even if you just highly value not appearing stupid- how you appear to other people is still a primary motivator- what if getting to know your own ignorance is your best vaccination against people thinking you’re what people like to dismissively call a dumb-arse? 😋