Generalisations, we all make them. There you go – there’s another one! In fact, generalisations are one of the filters our minds use to make our personal meaning of the world.
Some are useful shortcuts for us to follow. Like the honesty hut I came across recently on holiday in The Lakes. The generalisation is that most people are honest and will pay for any of the delicious goodies that are left in this remote location. Walkers and ramblers can only benefit from this positive and generous attitude.
Some generalisations are less helpful. You may have heard an argument where one person is accused of “always doing that!” The question to counter with might be, “what always? I never do anything different?” When we generalise, we tend to lose sight of the individual acts of kindness that someone might do and lump everything under the umbrella of negative generalisation.
Many of these judgements do not even belong to us. Along with hair and eye colour we might have inherited any number from our parents and role models. They have just spent so long lurking in our subconscious mind that they are automatic responses which colour our view of the world. Whilst some can be little more than an odd point of view, others can be more limiting and unpleasant.
Running the gamut from “Blondes have more fun” to “I’ll never be clever enough” they can detract from what is both truthful and important.
Awareness is key when upgrading mindset. Start to distinguish between those positive underlying assumptions such as, ‘people are generally good’ to those which are less likely to help you develop a positive outlook like ‘people always let you down.’ If words like “always”, “all”, “never” and “everyone” are prevalent in your self-talk, perhaps it’s time to look at a little closer at how you perceive the world.
From a context of negative generalisations things might look bleak. Remember, that generalisations are part of the furniture of the mind, barely questioned because we have become habituated to them. They are part of the norm.
As we move on into autumn, how about an autumn mind clean? Can you undertake to notice and challenge some of the generalisations that you have grown up with or inherited and which are having a detrimental effect on your peace of mind or your success? I promise you it is a truly interesting experience when you confront these sweeping statements. Keep a tally. Be curious about which preconceptions colour your view of the world and then ask yourself “Is this true?” We can all change mindset and it always starts with awareness.
Oh, and we couldn’t resist, we bought the jar of jam on the top left!