How My Culture Governs My Experience

Within my bubble of limited awareness, by culture, I mean,  “the social behavior and norms found in human societies.” (Wikipedia) And by governance, I mean, “the way rules, norms and actions are structured, sustained, regulated and held accountable through the laws, norms, power or language of an organized society.” (Wikipedia)

When we agree on something, we add value to our defense of that something. As I parse that something into its constituent parts, I often find that I disagree in principle with some aspects. I find I favor those principle aspects that confirm my current beliefs and my place in the world (confirmation bias).

Where did I get my beliefs about myself and place in the world?

Perhaps I inherited most of my fundamental beliefs about me and the world from my ancestors through DNA and the influence of their culture. In which case, I didn’t just suddenly upon birth “invent” my beliefs. No! I came complete with a HUGE belief repertoire already. All supported, reinforced, and refined through education by the culture into which I was born.

Chief among these beliefs concerns limitations – what I can and can’t do, what I can and can’t have, who I can and can’t be. Self-regulation through cultural limitations on perception of reality.

How does my culture regulate my experience?

My culture instills in me my default point of view – what is right, justified, and proper. This defines the “I” that seems independent of while being part of – and out of which springs all my judgments, comparisons, and behaviors. Once installed, these beliefs become self-evident, self-defended, and self-limiting.

Infinite Self, therefore, perceives itself as finite self – defended by a culture of limitation – without external support, prompting, or force. Self-regulation!

It’s a systemic model of being in which each part regulates itself in support of the whole. Thus, my geopolitical cultural system limits, defends, and supports its particular version of reality through agreement among its constituents. Each member buying into the cultural self-limits by regulating themselves to its perspectives. Thus, “we” becomes “I”.

Within a culture, disagreement tends to exclude, while agreement tends to include self into that larger narrative. Thus, each “I” perceives itself in terms of “we”.

Why do I support self-limitation?

“Can’t we all just get along?” (President Dale, Mars Attacks, 1996)

I don’t mind a little limitation because it adds to my sense of safety. Over time, though, that sense of safety tends to narrow the parameters of what I will and won’t allow as acceptable experience. In the absence of culture, I tend to regulate self according to those parameters. Waddya know, self-regulation through my own culture of fear!

I tend to surround myself with “agreeable” people that confirm my cultural views. I start with my parents’ culture that I defend as my default perspective. With time and experience, I live my life in defense of it.

My personal philosophy confirms and sustains my culture that confirms and sustains my personal philosophy. It’s a self-referential paradox! This paradox, in turn, forms the basis of my judgments, justifications, and propriety. I’m always in agreement with and regulate myself to the cultural limits I experience as this story. MY culture’s story becomes MY story. MY culture’s philosophies become MY philosophies. And visa versa!

Who am I as a result?

I perceive myself and my world in terms of the culture to which I subscribe. This cultural bias defends itself in my perception of “what is” and “what is not” – reality. I tend to ignore or not perceive outside that bubble of limited awareness. True self-regulation!

Therefore, I am the cultural limitation I impose upon myself in order to agree with and sustain and be sustained by that culture of limitation. Even my disagreements are framed to regulate myself to that standard. It’s a paradox of self-reference, self-regulation, and self-defense. It’s life within “the bubble” – the ultimate paradox.

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Attention and the Wholeness Prize

Attention is the notice I give to someone or something that sets them apart for preferential consideration. In bubble awareness, I attend to what I’m most interested in, which is attaining wholeness. The attention I give to that quest requires intention, the power of will that drives me towards that goal of wholeness, which is to be right.

My intentions require judgements to polarize my perspective of reality. I judge everything and everyone, including self, based on my survival. In the bubble, my survival depends on the attention I give to the support and defense of my intention to be right.

I use judgements to divide and separate my experiences into two main categories – good and bad. Good means surviving well in my rightness, while bad means to survive poorly and/or die being wrong. My survival requires a paradoxical approach – I attend to what I want and what I don’t want – focusing on what I want and don’t have.

Because I believe myself unwhole, I must forever seek wholeness. In a world of competition, wholeness is a prize that must be earned. To win the prize, I must be worthy of it. My attention to and defense of my judgement of what is worthy of wholeness is my payment to that end. When I feel I am whole, I will feel I have earned it. Trouble is, because I’m forever seeking wholeness, I’ll never realize wholeness.

Based on this premise of a less-than-whole self who can compete and win the ultimate prize, no intention to achieve, or strategy to win, or attention to worthiness will ever result in wholeness. Why? Because I was never unwhole to begin with. There was no prize to win because I already AM whole as I AM.

What Is My Thinking Process?

Every premise drives an intention that drives a strategy to achieve the intention. It all goes back to who I perceive I am – the central premise. That perceived identity is the foundational premise underlying the story generated by the strategy, which defends the identity – the central premise.

First and foremost, I seek to prove the central premise – that I’m right! To that end, I:

  • give value and worth to my premise
  • set an intention to prove the premise
  • create a strategy that does that
  • favor attention to what proves me right
  • defend what proves my premise right
  • defend against threats to that premise
  • perceive all evidence to favor the premise

Did you notice that in the list above there isn’t a single question? That’s because the game of winning isn’t about doubt. It’s about certitude – proving rightness.

In the next article, let’s investigate what we might think instead.

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HOW Does My Dimension of Belief Work?

I believe a lot of things – and trust my senses, which are not always reliable sources of accurate information. I believe that what I perceive IS what IS. Yet, I occasionally make sensual, judgmental, and thinking errors – optical illusions, incorrectly heard communications, biases and prejudices, and etc.

Sometimes what SEEMS to be is not what it SEEMS to be.

It SEEMS to me that I’m sensing a lot of “what is” – rocks, houses, my glasses, the sound of the truck outside my office, and etc. — “WHAT is that?” I ask. “SomeTHING, that’s WHAT!” I answer.

In Second Degree Illumination, I justify “things” with reasons WHY they are as I perceive them. My need to know WHY satisfied, I go on to justify HOW my justification is correct. This keeps me safely inside First Degree Illumination.

To get beyond the First-Second Degree bubble, I could ASK a question that elicits more questions – particularly those that question the question. While at the edge of the bubble, answering questions tends to serve to satisfy my need to know – delivering me back into the First-Second Degree safety bubble.

As I begin to question my trust in my senses, thinking, and beliefs, let’s investigate the relationship between WHAT and HOW in my world of perception…

Read more HOW Does My Dimension of Belief Work?

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Patterns of Prediction or How I Avoid Humiliation and Awakening

Patterns – it’s the stuff of life. I don’t perceive reality – I literally create it with assumptions – based on my perception of patterns. I assume a pattern as soon as I “guess” that one exists. After that, I tend to “fill in the blanks” rather than test my hypothesis (my “guess”).

To illustrate my point, consider the following:

1, 2, 3…

Can you predict the next number? Of course you can. You assume it is 4. That’s because you perceive a familiar pattern. But, what if it is not 4. What if it is 5 instead? Is the pattern broken? Maybe – unless you can perceive a new pattern, you will not be able to predict the next or the next number.

Read more Patterns of Prediction or How I Avoid Humiliation and Awakening

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Does Having Biases and Prejudices Make Me a Bad Person?

Bias: “prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.” (Google)

Prejudice: “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.” (Google)

As a human being, I’m proud to say I have biases and prejudices. They separate me from the machines I live with. My coffee pot doesn’t care what color I am or how old I am or who I associate with. It brews the same pot of coffee regardless.

Biases and prejudices become dangerous when they spin out of control and threaten others. By allowing a bias to go unchecked or unacknowledged, I develop a perceptual filter – a blind spot – that blinds me to the harm I may be doing. Fed by this positive feedback loop of prejudice and perceptual filters of justification, unacknowledged societal biases can result in terrifying outcomes like genocide.

About Bias and Prejudice

Perhaps bias and prejudice have evolved to serve some useful purpose – to some degree and in certain contexts. My “preference” for long pants in the winter, for example, serves me in that context by keeping me warmer. It also satisfies my personal and unreasonable prejudice about pants and dresses. The prejudice seems to be based on context – it’s cold, so wear long pants – and yet it is unreasonable because in MY world view, women wear dresses, even when it’s cold. I don’t ever consider men wearing anything other than pants… hot or cold Why not? Prejudice!

Perhaps being AWARE of and acknowledging bias and prejudice is ALWAYS useful, although the experience can be subjective. That is where education can be helpful.

Knowing and accepting that I have biases and prejudices helps me monitor and control them. This helps me communicate more effectively, make sounder choices, respond more appropriately, and live with far less stress.

Admitting my biases helps me take charge of them. In taking charge of my biases I take charge of my life. Further, in understanding my biases and how they work I become a more useful and stress-free member of my society.

In this article, I have copied liberally from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. As you read the list of cognitive biases below, along with their variants, I hope you, too, will find some value. Maybe you’ll notice some biases you didn’t know you had.

Remember: knowing you have biases helps you take charge of them. Understanding how your biases work helps you understand yourself and others better. This understanding can serve you and your community in a number of ways.

30 Cognitive Biases

  1. Bandwagon effect – the tendency to do (or believe) things because many other people do (or believe) the same.
  2. Bias blind spot – the tendency not to compensate for one’s own cognitive biases.
  3. Choice-supportive bias – Choice-supportive bias – the tendency to justify one’s past choices with positive attributes that may or may not have existed at the time the choice was made.
  4. Confirmation bias – the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions.
  5. Congruence bias – the tendency to test hypotheses exclusively through direct testing, in contrast to tests of possible alternative hypotheses.
  6. Contrast effect – the enhancement or diminishment of a weight or other measurement when compared with recently observed contrasting object.
  7. Deformation professionnelle – the tendency to look at things according to the conventions of one’s own profession, forgetting any broader point of view.
  8. Disconfirmation bias – the tendency for people to extend critical scrutiny to information which contradicts their prior beliefs and uncritically accept information that is congruent with their prior beliefs.
  9. Endowment effect – the tendency to place a higher value on objects one owns relative to objects they do not.
  10. Fundamental attribution error is the tendency for people to over-emphasize personality-based explanations for behaviors observed in others while under-emphasizing the role and power of situational influences on the same behavior.
  11. Focusing effect – prediction bias occurring when people place too much importance on one aspect of an event; causes error in accurately predicting the utility of a future outcome.
  12. Hyperbolic discounting – the tendency for people to have a stronger preference for more immediate payoffs relative to later payoffs, the closer to the present both payoffs are.
  13. Hindsight bias, sometimes called the “I-knew-it-all-along” effect, is the inclination to see past events as being predictable.
  14. Illusion of control – the tendency for human beings to believe they can control or at least influence outcomes that they clearly cannot.
  15. Impact bias – the tendency for people to overestimate the length or the intensity of the impact of future feeling states.
  16. Information bias – a distorted evaluation of information. An example of information bias is believing that the more information that can be acquired to make a decision, the better, even if that extra information is irrelevant for the decision.
  17. Loss aversion – the tendency for people strongly to prefer avoiding losses than acquiring gains. Some studies suggest that losses are as much as twice as psychologically powerful as gains.
  18. Neglect of probability – the tendency to completely disregard probability when making a decision under uncertainty.
  19. Mere exposure effect – the tendency for people to express undue liking for things merely because they are familiar with them.
  20. Omission bias – The tendency to judge harmful actions as worse, or less moral, than equally harmful omissions (inactions).
  21. Outcome bias – the tendency to judge a past decision by incorporating presently available information.
  22. Planning fallacy – the tendency to underestimate task-completion times.
  23. Post-purchase rationalization – the tendency to persuade oneself through rational argument that a purchase was a good value.
  24. Pseudocertainty effect – the tendency to make risk-averse choices if the expected outcome is positive, but make risk-seeking choices to avoid negative outcomes.
  25. Reactance – the urge to do the opposite of what someone wants you to do out of a need to reassert a perceived attempt to constrain your freedom of choice.
  26. Selective perception – the tendency for expectations to affect perception.
  27. Self-serving bias is the tendency to claim more responsibility for successes than failures. It may also manifest itself as a tendency for people to evaluate ambiguous information in a way beneficial to their interests.
  28. Status quo bias – the tendency for people to like things to stay relatively the same.
  29. Von Restorff effect – the tendency for an item that “stands out like a sore thumb” to be more likely to be remembered than other items.
  30. Zero-risk bias – preference for reducing a small risk to zero over a greater reduction in a larger risk.
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