I was meeting a friend yesterday and looking for a particular coffee shop. Twice, I walked past what looked like a not-in-use building where the cafe was supposed to be. Feeling lost, I was about to telephone my friend but happened to take my sun glasses off at that moment. And, lo and behold the cafe was in that building. I hadn’t noticed it because I forgot I had my shades on!
Biases, habits and tendencies
The building had tinted glass and with my shades on I completely missed what was inside. I admit that I probably need a trip to the optometrist. That aside, what also occurred to me is that sometimes we can miss things or misconstrue them because we might unconsciously be viewing a situation or person with a particular lens.
Using a particular habitual lens can prevent us from seeing things for what they are. And, that lens may be generated by all manner of psychological biases, habits and tendencies.
For example, as human beings we are all susceptible to look for things to confirm what we believe (confirmation bias) or infer wider realities from specific events (generalisation). Or we might be drawn to make assessments based on first impressions (halo effect).
In all of these cases, our mental ‘vision’ is impaired by a particular lens and it is very useful to be aware of that. Recognising our own fallibility is the starting point and from such a place of humility we can allow ourselves to notice if and when we have our shades on.
Of course, we might forget at times and lapse into old patterns. And, that’s okay. What is important is becoming aware of our tendencies. What is important is having the courage to take off the lenses that might seem comfortable, but are in the end distorting our vision.