I never knew that about thinking…

By Chris Ogle on May 24, 2020

Just lately I read the book “The Untethered Soul”. I came by the book as a gift from Nikki Pepper and had been in possession of it for some time before I got around to reading it.

If you haven’t read the book then I do encourage you to read it. For many you will easily relate to the content, and it brings about some interesting ideas that we can implement into our lives if we so wish.

As a direct result of the book, the other day during a conversation I referred to the little voice in all of our heads. Do you know this voice? You know the one advising and guiding us about ‘the thing’ we are thinking about, and what we should do. Our protector, the one that convinces of things to do or NOT do and a whole host of other things, that in the main are sadly wrong.

In the book this ‘little voice’ is discussed exhaustively and the conclusion most of the time is he / she is not your friend. Nor is this “advisor”, the word used very loosely, any good at advising you effectively. In the real world; outside your head, this advisor would long ago have been ‘shot at dawn’ for giving consistently poor recommendations… and yet… interestingly we always go back for more of the same…why? (get the book...)

Anyway I digress, In my conversation having mentioned this “little voice” the reply astounded me. “I don’t have a little voice in my head”. What I exclaimed “everyone has a little voice, we use this voice to play back our decision making, to discuss what people are thinking, what might happen as a result of a course of action we take”... “Well I don’t, was the reply”.

When something shifts your beliefs

I have lived on the planet for well over 50 years and I had assumed every human being on the planet had a “little voice”. In truth I just believed it to be true, I had never asked though in a questioning way. Apparently though, this isn’t a once in a million occurrence, it is fairly common… 

Although this was a significant revelation for me, it is not the main thrust of this blog post. What it did serve to do though was highlight that something I believed to be true (although I had never tested or researched the belief) was in fact not the case… and moreover...  that every interaction I participated in was based on the principle that they had an internal voice telling them what to do too, or at least playing some narrative or other. I had assumed that their thinking was akin to mine, whereas in reality it may well have been based on a different modality.

Common examples of these different modalities are autism and aspergers. But how many more might there be going on out there that people just get along with and don’t come to light.

How do they think then?

I was absolutely flabbergasted to be honest and total inquisitive. How do you actually weigh up a choice if “the voice” isn’t walking you through the options and presenting findings? 

Well in this particular case it was pictures. Don’t ask me how that works because I haven’t got a clue… and this is the point of this post. I had assumed that people come to their decisions through an internal dialogue like me but this isn’t necessarily true.

So when someone doesn’t come to the same conclusions as us, has a different perspective, sees the world differently to us, often we can’t understand them and then feel a bit alienated from them. We like people around us that think like us, see things our way, but why might that be? … well I guess they are part of our team, it’s more comforting, like minds, we feel more ‘like them’, there is less hostility, and fewer clashes.

But when we do clash, who is right and who is wrong?

Daft questions really isn’t it… just because people think differently to us doesn’t mean they are wrong and we are right. In fact if we examine this in a bit more detail, how did we come to be so blessed and in possession of the truth, and,  the right to inflict our truth on others who have clearly strayed from (our) ‘right’ path.

Judgement often stems from comparing, can lead to a superiority / ‘better than’ complex, almost always creates division, ends up long term typically with ‘group think’ and power games.

Avoiding Judging

This is probably one of the most difficult things to do in our modern world. Avoid judging others. Comparing begins early on in our lives at school and we are surrounded by measurement strategies that help to define where we fit into our society. Houses, cars, holidays, kids, clothes, how many times we eat out, food choices,  Jobs, Salary… everything we do is measured and then we’re added to various societal boxes.

If we do find ourselves judging… and let us be honest, hard as it may be to want to admit it, we all find ourselves doing it most days (if not all). If the internal voice is strong in you it might be found saying ! “I might not be doing as well as ‘so and so’ but at least we’re doing better than ‘them over there’.”

How on earth do we stop judging others? 

If it were easy for sure we would have all done it long ago. But we somehow feel compelled to compare which leads to a judgement, and, for those with that little voice in the head… the dialogue might go something like this…

We’re driving along and suddenly a car appears right behind us… uncomfortably close… there is nowhere to pass safely on this road it is just a regular single carriageway, So here are some thoughts… 

  1. Who on earth is the idiot behind me. He’s a maniac driving so close, can’t he see I’ve got a kids-on-board sticker on the back window? He’s driving me mad I can’t stand people like this. I’m going to speed up / slow down just to make a point! There is no way I would behave like this...
  2. Wow, this person behind me is in a hurry. I wonder what their problem is. As soon as I can I am going to pull over and let them pass, I certainly don’t need an accident at this time and clearly there must be something important they need to get too.

Which would you choose? … be honest? … why? … what is it that is triggering you? 

When I first heard this statement…” whatever is triggering you in others is a problem you have yourself”, I didn’t believe it… however it doesn’t mean in this example you drive up behind people and annoy them (although that might happen in some circumstances). You have to look deeper for the issue that you have and it is always “same but manifested differently”.

The bottom line is we have no idea what is happening in the other person’s life and no way could we… “Let he who has done nothing wrong cast the first stone” … “walk a mile in another man’s shoes before you pass judgement”... and yet… it is a difficult habit to break is it not?

How do we get good at not judging?  Practice… practice… practice... 

Notice in the situation above we have the power to create whatever outcome we want… it has nothing to do with the other person. The same is true with judgement, the other person doesn’t even know anything is going on!

As Brené Brown stated : “Definitions belong to the definers not the defined”

Chris is passionate about community and has been involved with Link4Growth and community building since the start in 2012. Chris now devotes most of his time to facilitate connection, collaboration and community in the district of South West Herts as well as supporting the Link4Growth Association.

Blog Author

Chris Ogle