Think. Hard

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Originally posted 31st March 2015

I retweeted a quote this morning by Carl Jung. A contemporary of Freud, he was full of interesting and inspirational nuggets like:

“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

But this morning it was:

“Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.”

People who believe themselves to have a ‘thinking problem’ will often say that their problem is that they ‘think too much’ or that they ‘over-analyse’. Usually that is not the case at all, and it’s much more likely that they are conflating ‘thinking’ with ruminating, procrastinating, worry or obsessive thoughts. They confuse having a mind that is preoccupied with one thought with thinking.

Real thinking is difficult: it often means being able to hold in mind conflicting thoughts and beliefs; taking in to consideration other’s points of view; challenging one’s own assumptions; accepting our own envy; taking responsibility for past errors, and facing the possibility that you might have been wrong. Real thinking is a vulnerable process, which is why most people avoid it most of the time. We’ve all said ‘I don’t want to think about it’ when what we mean is something like ‘I don’t want to face the possibility and consequences of my mistakes’. When we’re unwilling to face this discomfort it is easier to condemn the other. If you make the other person wrong you win by default. But, of course, in reality it’s not that simple. If you ever find yourself making very quick and harsh judgements it might be worth asking yourself what it is you don’t want to think about.