As if the COVID pandemic isn’t challenging enough, we are facing a judgment pandemic as insidious and potentially devastating as the COVID virus. The sooner we deal with it, the less severe the effects.
Symptoms and source
The symptoms are fear, anxiety, frustration, anger and violence. The sources are many and varied as illustrated in the PBS special Hacking the Mind: Us vs. Them. The second part of this 2-part series is scheduled to air on September 30th. It will offer insights into how to protect yourself from the judgment pandemic.
Protection: what works for me
One of the ways to protect yourself is to understand how this pandemic works. We’re fed incomplete information in a sensationalized form which elicits an emotional reaction. Emotions trigger judgments. Judgments lock us into positions that we feel compelled to defend. That’s the sequence of events, the process, that triggers an us vs. them mentality.
The first step in protecting yourself is learning to set emotions aside. Emotions are automatic responses. We can’t prevent them, but we can train ourselves to quickly set them aside in favor of a more objective, well-reasoned evaluation of the information we’re getting.
When you experience an emotional reaction to what you’re hearing or seeing, whether you agree or disagree, ask yourself “Am I getting all the information I need to make this judgment?” This question quickly replaces the emotion you’re experiencing with a desire for more analysis.
Next, ask these questions as you review the information you’re being given:
- Is the information balanced? In other words, are both the positive and negative aspects being presented? All too often what we’re getting is sensationalism designed to trigger judgments on incomplete information.
- If not, what information would I need to form a well-reasoned, fact-based evaluation?
- Is this information readily available? If so, invest the time to get these facts before forming an opinion. If not, acknowledge that it’s impossible to form an opinion with what little information you have.
Finally, remember that judgments create bias and bias limits the number of alternative solutions you see for the situation you face.
You can protect yourself from the fear, anxiety, frustration, anger and violence of the judgment pandemic by developing the habit of employing the protection steps outlined above.
You’ll also be well equipped to help others protect themselves from the judgment pandemic. The more people you help, the more frequently you share this message with others, the greater the likelihood that we, as a society, can move from pandemic to mutual respect and genuine care and concern for each other.
For our kids
As you see the kids in your life suffering the effects of the judgment pandemic, help them understand how judgement develops and what they can do to protect themselves. Don’t forget to live the message. As they see you employ the techniques outlined above, and the calming effect it has on you, they’ll mimic your behavior.
Please share this message with your friends and social networks. Together we can heal our country of this judgment pandemic and the divisiveness it engenders.