This blog is focused on personal growth, personal development, self improvement, and relationships. I believe very strongly that we are our own healers so I seek out information focused on self help.
Our human historical records make it clear that people who attempt to rationalize and/or justify egocentric thoughts and behaviors as being requirements of their religion and/or political ideology are the most dangerous people on the planet.
I’ve been reading many books and articles on egocentricity. The one I favor most is The Miniature Guide to The Human Mind by Linda Elder and Richard Paul. I’m convinced every mindful adult can learn to detect egocentric tendencies in their own thoughts, words and actions, and that they can make conscious living changes so I’m determined to do so.
One can only relate to others based upon their own perception. All comparisons or differences one may establish are based upon their understanding of a concept which is where assimilation begins ie. it begins with that which they recognize.
One of the definitions of egocentric thinking means one had the tendency to perceive, understand and interpret the world in terms of the self. Therefore, one tends to believe everyone sees what they see/believe (or that what they see/believe, in some way, exceeds what others see).
The degree of egocentricity hinges on amount of invested interest which is a function of degree of emotion invested. Egocentricity is only the foundation assuming “we feel” confident about an area, or “we feel” proud, passionate, etc, as well as the degree of conviction and unwillingness to yield as discussion branches out.
Open mindedness and Egocentricity are diametrically opposed
We will probably all agree that open mindedness is a virtue. When I consider my own upbringing in my parents’ home, extended family circle, church, etc. I can identify very few adults who were open minded free thinkers. In fact, the only open minded free thinking role models that I was in contact with as a child were dismissed by my other and more dominant and influential family members as being bohemians who lacked credibility.
That scenario persisted throughout my younger years and by the time I was about 10 I came to understand where more dominant and influential family members were coming from. They were Christians who had slammed the doors to the corridors of thoughtfulness closed and isolated themselves from “things of the world”. They had all been brainwashed in the dogma and doctrine of the faith by their own parents and family as very young children, and they had all been culturally conditioned to parrot and to live by certain interpretations of ancient texts.
They were adults who spoke of “free will” but manifest no evidence of the same as they most certainly were not “free thinking” individuals. They had been successfully indoctrinated into an extremely egocentric, fear and guilt based belief system, and they were now preoccupied with brainwashing and indoctrinating the next generation.
I eagerly looked forward to the time when I could escape that milieu, and I chose to be in the company of the free thinkers as frequently as I could until I could make my escape.
As I matured I became aware that an individual can believe in supernatural things and yet not hold to the dogmatism that comes with any religion. Many called this “spirituality” and their numbers included believers and unbelievers (secular humanists, atheists and agnostics), all of whom who called themselves spiritual because of the sense of wonder they have in the universe around them. They were fair-minded reasonable people, who cared about how their behavior affects the lives of others, and were all focused on making the world a more civilized and just place for everyone. I strongly preferred being in their company to being the company of others.
John Sanford and George Lough provide this definition: “Egocentricity may be defined as a state in which a person is concerned with his own defense and the fulfillment of his own ambitions, which ambition, on close scrutiny, turn out to be closely tied to his defenses.”
The import of this is simple. A man is inducted into a religion from birth or at any point in his lifetime. Through the practice of that religion, he is told he can reach to God. He is told that there are certain things he must do to maintain his acceptance as a follower. He might be indoctrinated, he might not be. But now he has a defense and an ambition.
His defense consists of his religion, that this is authentic manner to get to God, because the authenticity of the claim is narrated through tales and books he believes in. his ambition is to become a true follower of that religion, to leave nothing left in becoming an acclaimed follower of his God. And so, he is concerned (this concern varies in people) with that defense and the fulfillment of that ambition.
The Miniature Guide to The Human Mind lays the conceptual foundations necessary for understanding the mind, its functions, its natural propensity toward irrationality, and its capacity for rationality.
It is designed for those interested in developing their potential to be fair-minded reasonable persons, concerned with how their behavior affects the lives of others, concerned to develop their full humanity, concerned with making the world a more civilized and just place. It is designed for those willing to transform their thinking to improve their decisions, the quality of their lives, the quality of their interpersonal relationships, and their vision of the world. It is intended to provide an initial map to help interested persons begin the process of freeing themselves from the traps their minds have constructed.
The human mind is naturally prone to the following egocentric tendencies:
- egocentric memory (the natural tendency to “forget” evidence and information which does not support our thinking and to “remember” evidence and information which does)
- egocentric myopia (the natural tendency to think absolutistically within an overly narrow point of view)
- egocentric infallibility (the natural tendency to think that our beliefs are true because we believe them)
- egocentric righteousness (the natural tendency to feel superior in the light of our confidence that we are in the possession of THE TRUTH)
- egocentric hypocrisy (the natural tendency to ignore flagrant inconsistencies between what we profess to believe and the actual beliefs our behavior imply, or inconsistencies between the standards to which we hold ourselves and those to which we expect others to adhere)
- egocentric oversimplification (the natural tendency to ignore real and important complexities in the world in favor of simplistic notions when consideration of those complexities would require us to modify our beliefs or values)
- egocentric blindness (the natural tendency not to notice facts or evidence which contradict our favored beliefs or values)
- egocentric immediacy (the natural tendency to over-generalize immediate feelings and experiences–so that when one event in our life is highly favorable or unfavorable, all of life seems favorable or unfavorable as well)
- egocentric absurdity (the natural tendency to fail to notice thinking which has “absurd” consequences, when noticing them would force us to rethink our position)
Feelings that Accompany Egocentrism
Essential Idea: When egocentric thinking is successful in getting what it wants, positive feelings accompany it. But when egocentric thinking is not able to achieve its purposes, negative feelings result.
These are some of the many feelings that might accompany egocentric thinking. They often occur when egocentric thinking is “unsuccessful.”
I’m struggling every day to detect, correct and conquer my own egocentric thoughts, words and actions, so I can make a direct contribution to peace and harmony in my own life and in the world. How about you?