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Understanding prejudices

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice was originally published in 1813. The book is essentially a romantic novel but it very well describes the errors in judgements by the protagonist. And what stood true two centuries ago, stands true today as well.

WE all have prejudices.

If you are getting all defensive thinking, what is she talking about, she doesn't even know me enough to include me in this 'we', well let all your anger out, but know that you still are a part of this. Sorry.

Judgement is a basic defence mechanism instilled in all of us as a part of our 'fight or flight' decision forming ability. We learn to analyse our environment by forming opinions or coming to conclusions about it. That's how we adapt and survive. But we have come a long way from fulfilling these mere bio-physical needs.

As constant data about others gets thrown at us through all the possible means of communication, we tend to come to conclusions based merely on the data PROVIDED. We don't really look at all the data that EXISTS. And hereafter starts our process of prejudice.

Let's say you happened to have a conversation with someone you barely know and that conversation turned out to be unpleasant. Chances are, that you end up forming an emotion of dislike for that person. And if this dislike sets in your mind as a concrete opinion about that person, you tend to perceive every action of theirs with criticism.

I often find myself in these situations. If I don't like a person, I constantly seem to criticise them, no matter how many good things they do later, or how actually good they are. But it's through the opinions of those around me that I sometimes realise that this is the judgemental part of me which has formed a prejudiced opinion about that person.

Acknowledgement of such behaviour leads to the acceptance of the same, which by the way is the hardest part! And only through it's acceptance we can take conscious actions towards rectifying our behaviour.

The basic step involved here is to first clear your prejudice about yourself. We often tend to put ourselves on a pedestal thinking that we don't judge that often and when we do, it's not judgement but 'concern' for that person. By being open to accept that we make mistakes too, we can erase this self-prejudice. This will let you see on what occasions and for what people you're practising prejudice. Listen to your friends if they tell you you're being judgemental, because you probably are!

I want to end this post abruptly because I'll be taking this topic ahead in the next post and let's just give ourselves time to digest that fact that we practise prejudice, no?

I'll leave you with the reassurance that just because we are judgemental and have prejudices does not make us a bad person. So don't worry about it. These are personality traits common to all, just varying in intensities. And these are curable problems. So let's first accept and then work on those. Let's Save Ourselves :)

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