How we interpret the things other people do is crucial for our personal well-beingAs it largely determines how we react and the decisions we make as a result. This is why the human brain tends to perform tricks to make this interpretation biased and biased. Let’s look at some examples: imagine the following situation.
You step outside to get some fresh air in the garden, and above the fence you see the new neighbor who moved the previous week next door. The man looks annoyed, has furrowed brows, and can almost hear purring from below.
A few minutes later, he begins to raise his voice. At one point, the woman walks up to him to ask him a question and he answers her in a very bad way. He then starts yelling at his two young children who continue to run around him, playing on something that seems very irritating to the father.
“The others are to blame for everything!”
Under such circumstances, it is to be hoped that his brain, without thinking twice, will hastily launch a whole series of speculations about what he is observing. The conclusion seems simple and compelling: his neighbor has a terrible character, he is a cranky and bossy subject who could never befriend.
A few days later, you are having a leisurely lunch with your partner, when she says to him in passing: “Oh, did you see the neighbor who moved into the group …? As soon as he finished paying for the new house , he was fired, and now he doesn’t know how to support the family. “
Adapt to new information
Let’s see … This additional new information colors your opinion of the new neighbor, right?
The hypothetical anecdote only illustrates one of the most damaging shortcomings of the human brain: we are quite inclined to criticize the reprehensible behavior of others, attributing it to their alleged bad character, or to a flaw in their personality. and we lose sight of the fact that there are always outside forces or influences that help shape behavior.
And what’s worse, if we’re the protagonists of the story and someone accuses us of being in a bad mood, we immediately justify ourselves by saying, “Well, what happens is that I am very nervous because I lost my job. “
This is how it happens most of the time; it’s a dynamic underlying the dark and fallible side of our brain: others have full responsibility for their fault. Their unfortunate or misguided decisions are the result of the person’s own flaws.
On the contrary, when we violate good manners and healthy habits, we quickly find an explanation which is given to us from the outside to justify the deterioration of our good mood, and thus to leave out of danger our reputation and our self-esteem. . Simplify it a bit: if Fulano reacts violently, it’s because Fulano is an aggressive person. On the other hand, if it is me who reacts violently, it is because I am tired because I could not attract the attention of the night.
Guilt: A Matter of Perspective
Everything we do, all the wrong, no matter how inappropriate, is always, for our brain, the right answer to a given situation.
From our point of view, we can only see the angry neighbor. In other words, all of its obscuration occupies the center of our attention. however, when it is we who are involved, we can only see the circumstances; What happened to us that day, whether they fired us from work, hurt our head or stole our GPS at the event, seems reason enough to vent our anger on the world or on the people. other. It’s like the brain is whispering in our ears, “Hey, come on … I know you’re a good person, but you live in a bad and hostile world.”
It is important for the reader to know that whatever they pay attention to will inevitably be part of their world, and whatever they don’t pay attention to or decide to ignore will simply cease to exist for you, will be left out of there. its daily reality. , with all that that implies, for better or for worse.
Bias that protect us
It is crucial to understand this type of mental bias that appears when we observe our own behavior and that of others, as it can lead us to exaggerated or dramatic value judgments, which together can open deep cracks in society.
For example, people who describe the unemployed or those who receive government assistance through social plans such as “strikes”, “lazy” or simply “people who do not want to work”, all inherent personality characteristics, are generally supporters of the “hard hand”, “zero tolerance” and economic and cultural discrimination at large.
On the contrary, people who think that there are people who were born and raised in very unfavorable conditions, They have a more humanitarian and compassionate view of the world, participate more in charitable works and vote for leftist political parties.
The role that need plays
It also turns out that our own needs are a parameter by which we measure all things.. Of course, we don’t realize it, but that’s how selfish we are.
If you need, for example, to feel loved and respected, then probably your wife (who doesn’t have the same needs as you) in the face of a disagreement may seem like a cold, loveless person.
Of course, if it’s her who needs to feel loved and not you, then your wife will appear insecure and demanding. And as we have seen before, some aspects, like the fact that she had a troubled childhood in which her parents did not give her much love, went to the background or fell straight into the background. ‘oversight.
Alternatively, if you need to get it all done quickly because you have an anxious character and get impatient with ease, then the McDonald’s cashier who is dedicated to serving the customer in front of you online will seem like a slow, inefficient, frugal employee. , or all of the above together.
Now, if you are on vacation and you feel particularly calm and relaxed, and you want to choose carefully what to eat that day, the people behind you are lining up and rushing to place your order and run. on the one hand, they will find there a collection of badly brought up neurotics and fretics.
If you are the type of person who cares about order, cleanliness and perfectionism, who cares about the details of every task you perform; it is very likely that your new partner will strike you as an irresponsible and disorganized subject. But if he’s the one with all of those potty-oriented needs, then he’ll call his partner an insufferable obsessive maniac.
How to solve the problem?
I think the first thing we need to do is understand the biased dynamics our brains use to harshly assess other people’s behavior, and more kindly our own behavior.
Perhaps a greater degree of self-awareness will help us take responsibility for our own actions. and the decisions we make, especially when faced with a problem or in times of stress.