Checking Your Unconscious Bias
Yet again there has been a LOT going on in the world and it feels heavy. Like so many I’ve been deeply saddened by what I’ve seen.
What happened to George Flloyd is truly horrific.
You can’t ignore racism and pretend it doesn’t exist.
It exists, and if you don’t think so you’ve got the blinkers on.
It exists everywhere. In the education system, employment, every day situations that can be so easily taken for granted.
I can sit here very easily in my white, privately educated privilege and tell you what you ‘should’ read, share content daily, share my opinion on it daily and sit and judge you for however you choose to handle it.
I can share the falsified reports and coverage that whips you up into even more of a frenzy. I can pressure you into speaking up. I can do all that…but it’s not me.
I’m not one to jump on the bandwagon (as you know if you’ve been following me for a while!)
I’m also not one to judge negatively what other people want to do or not do in these situations, it might drive me bonkers, I might agree or disagree with certain things but it’s not about judgement and making other people ‘wrong’.
Everyone is going to do what’s right for them and I get that.
People should be entitled to their own opinion and actions…whoever they are. Whether they choose to shout about things or not.
It’s just not how I do things and to be honest, it’s not what I agree with.
That may not sit well with some people but it’s how I choose to roll and not get involved in social hysteria. I personally just don’t think it’s helpful.
At the moment it’s right back to social shaming for what people are or aren’t saying, and I don’t agree with that.
It’s back to making ALL the assumptions and not taking a minute to question things or see another perspective than your own, and I don’t agree with that.
That’s not me judging people, it’s just me choosing to do things my way and I think that’s hugely important.
We should all be able to do that, no matter where we’re from or who we are and it saddens me that’s not been the case.
Even me saying that, each of you listening will take something different from it, will make assumptions and potentially hear different things, whether it’s actually what i’m saying or not.
It’s what we’re wired to do and it’s important to understand that we each have our own set of filters that we delete, distort and generalise through.
It’s certainly not for me to tell you what to do in this situation.
That’s not what this podcast or any other platforms i’m on are for.
It shouldn’t be what you LOOK to me for. Words have power.
I’m aware of the responsibility that I have which is why I’m always trying to empower you to understand how much power YOU have and take it back for yourself.
I can absolutely share with you what i’m doing to educate myself in this situation but ultimately the decision for what to do or not do has to come from and start with you.
I do NOT claim to be an expert. Quite the opposite.
One thing I’m grateful to possess is human empathy, and a little understanding of how we tick as humans and creatures of habit.
We have to stop generalising because it’s adding to the hate and the divide.
We can’t generalise all white people as the same, all black people as the same, all police as the same, all men, women, genders as the same under each of those huge umbrellas.
That’s where so much of the damage is done, much of it unconscious.
There are so many different polarising opinions out there from all sides of this, hopefully, global shift.
People want and need different things, from all sides.
We need to challenge what is TRUTH, we need to wake up to our unconscious thoughts, beliefs and behaviours and realise what we’ve been doing and make sure we don’t continue doing it.
One person does not speak for an entire race which is one of the reasons so many people have felt so confused because there have been MANY conflicting opinions seemingly speaking with the same voice.
It’s important to understand this stuff so we can make a change at the root cause.
It’s naive to think this can be ‘fixed’ or changed on a global scale through social media posts.
It’s not about what I share or don’t share, or anyone else for that matter. Some people will take longer to process. Don’t mistake silence for indifference or anything else for that matter.
If you’re looking for a reason to be angry, you’ll find it. And I get it.
Here’s something else that is important to understand.
We, as humans, live in an echo chamber of our own unconscious bias. We unconsciously shape our worlds that way.
The definition of an echo chamber is “an environment in which a person encounters only beliefs or opinions that coincide with their own, so that their existing views are reinforced and alternative ideas are not considered.”
We tend to want our opinions parroted back to us to validate what we do and what we believe.
This comes through in who we were raised by, the media we consume, the people we hang out with, where we choose to go, everything.
But we don’t tend to ever question or challenge the status quo unless something devastating happens or we’re forced into it.
It’s far easier to ignore the uncomfortable stuff.
Our brains are always trying to reinforce and provide the evidence for what we unconsciously believe.
When THIS is driving 95-99% of your behaviour it’s easy to see how we have huge segments of society and such huge divides across race, gender, class, sexual orientation etc. This ‘us vs them’ mentality.
We don’t just see each others at our core as human beings. All of us.
It’s easy to assume so much and get things wrong in this situation. Many will, and have, I will, you will! There is no ‘right’ thing to say that will please everyone listening, reading or watching.
We can hopefully be forgiven for that, we’re human and we all get things wrong.
What we may think is ‘standing up’ for people, or particular groups can actually be hugely patronising to many.
We can assume what the ‘right’ thing to do is….but it doesn’t mean it is.
That’s not to say people are ‘wrong’ for doing so, I just personally think that unless you’re speaking to or at least listening to the people who are directly affected you can never truly understand or judge what is ‘right’.
If you’re not truly understanding their perspective how can you?.
If someone is not speaking out, it does NOT mean they are then racist or don’t give a damn about other people or their pain.
Don’t look to other people to help you work out what you believe. Concentrate on yourself. Educate yourself. It’s not up to anyone else to tell you what to think. Me included. It’s not for anyone else to judge you for what you do or do not say. That’s up to you.
You shouldn’t have to post on social media just because you’re told you ‘should’ or peer pressured into it. But if someone doesn’t, don’t just assume that means they aren’t doing anything behind the scenes. Assumptions are dangerous, and simply things that you have made up in your own head to judge others or find something to be angry about.
You may agree with me, you may not. That’s fine.
There is always a cause to fight for but it shouldn’t be a flash in the pan that’s gone in a couple of weeks time because there’s less media coverage, less reporting, less of an ‘obvious’ issue. This is stuff we should be aware of all the time.
There’s a huge amount of injustice in the world. Some I’ve been more privy to, some I haven’t. Some I’m downright ignorant of. That’s not my ‘fault’. But now I get to make a choice.
#metoo #bekind #blacklivesmatter are ALL important causes but we need to keep the conversation going past the social hysteria, at home, to ourselves.
There are so many people out there scared to have the conversation.
THAT’S where things need to start, the conversation.
Working out what your own unconscious beliefs are around the issues that are important to you and challenging them. Welcoming other people challenging them.
But we HAVE to be aware of the root cause of something so insidious in our society if anything is going to change and I believe that starts at home with some brutal honesty and an openness to be wrong.
Getting involved in the conversation doesn’t have to mean shouting from the rooftops if you don’t believe that’s what’s helpful.
Actions speak louder than words.
Educate yourself on what you CAN do. Do your own research.
There’s a bias in us about anything ‘different’ to us. But we don’t talk about it. We are curious about, attracted to, avoid or are even scared of difference…simply because it’s different.
We are all operating from what we were taught as children.
That’s not our fault but it’s where we can make a change.
It’s from society, movies, the news, music, your parents, their parents, THEIR parents.
It’s passed down through generations and the buck stops with YOU.
You get to change it.
You get to decide if you agree or not.
You get to decide if it’s right or wrong.
There will always be different opinions.
For me it’s about being open to being educated, acknowledging your ignorance and choosing to educate yourself.
We have to be aware of confirmation bias. The dictionary definition is “bias that results from the tendency to process and analyse information in such a way that it supports one’s preexisting ideas and convictions.” This is where the deletions, distortions and generalisations come into play. And we do it all unconsciously.
The reality is that change starts with you.
Your own unconscious bias.
It starts with self awareness.
It starts with knowing what you care about.
We can’t be scared of the conversation.
We have to have the conversation.
With the right people.
Get out of your echo chamber!
Ask the hard questions.
A simple google search will provide you with TONNES of reputable sources to help.
If you do a simple google search for Black lives matter you’ll find a huge amount of reliable information, how you can educate yourself further, what white people can do to support.
This is not about finding sources that will echo your opinion and make you feel better.
Sharing a post on social media won’t do that either.
This is about looking at the hard stuff.
It’s about not voting bigots into power.
It’s also not about my opinion.
It’s not about the opinion of any influencers you follow.
It’s about YOUR opinion and the opinion of those who live it on a daily basis.
Those who truly are in a position to educate you.
Choose what you read, choose what you listen to, choose what you watch. Question it.
Think about what you’re teaching the next generation because that’s where some REAL change can happen.
Don’t make it something you care about for a couple of weeks while it’s raw in everyone’s minds to only be forgotten when the next devastating thing happens.
How can you incorporate this awareness and this change into your life every day.
Not just when social media tells you too.
What do YOU care about, what are YOU passionate about?
If you’re going to truly campaign and MEAN it, what do you feel passionately about changing in the world.
Is it basic human rights? Racism? Gender equality? The environment? Mental health? Domestic violence? Animal rights? Sexual harassment?
Check your ignorance and check your bias and I’ll check mine!
It’s not about what you post on social media, it’s about what you do.
I believe so many important issues have been raised in 2020 so far.
SO many deeply rooted constructs that have been pushed to the surface and given an opportunity to address.
An opportunity to readdress some sort of balance.
An opportunity for unity.
To question and let go of unconscious bias that has been around for centuries.
We have an opportunity to undo so many things but it starts with our own education.
You don’t have to become a campaigner for everything (unless that’s a route you want to go down of course!) You can simply start with educating yourself and changing that bias. Choose to stop turning a blind eye.
The only mistake you can make here is to stay in ignorance, avoidance or ignore it completely.
Ignorance is such a hard hitting word with SO many negative connotations but if you can step back and see it for what it actually is, simply ‘a lack of knowledge, understanding or information about something’ according to the Cambridge dictionary.
You can see straight away how you can change that and how it’s not a slight on you as a person.
We are all ignorant to something. You get to choose if you stay there.
For me this isn’t about posting all over social media for a couple of weeks it’s about doing the work and actually educating myself.
Having the conversation.
We all need to stop perpetuating the problem and the divide.
All of us have a responsibility to recognise where we might be doing that. Consciously or unconsciously.
We’ve got to be aware where we’re blanketing an assumption or an opinion onto an entire ethnicity or race.
This issue is gigantic.
And in my humble, privileged opinion…the change starts at home.
Educate, educate, educate.
Yourself and those around you.
Be aware and challenge what you read, listen to, watch, LOOK for the unconscious bias, you won’t see it until you choose to look!
Teach your kids that we’re all the same. We’re all HUMAN.
Knowledge is power and it’s choice.
We’re all humans.
Sex, gender, race, whatever our differences at our core we’re all human.
We ALL have unconscious bias one way or the other as to what we believe.
We ALL need to change that for anything to change.
So all I ask is be honest with yourself however uncomfortable.
Ask the right questions, of yourself and of people who go through it daily.
Get to the core of the issue for YOU.
What are your beliefs, notice them.
Challenge them, change them.
Educate yourself so you can choose to do better.
Start today, just start.
P.S – Last question…Are you sick of self sabotaging and procrastinating on getting your business going? Would you like to learn some practical strategies to stop you procrastinating WHEN it happens so you can FINALLY get the things you NEED to do DONE? Download my FREE guide below and I’ll show you 5 simple strategies to stop procrastination in its tracks!
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Fran Excell, Mindset & Productivity Coach – Helping Business Owners Overcome Self Sabotage & Get More Done In Less Time at www.franexcell.com
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