Overcoming their avoidance

Question asked on Quora today:  Why is everybody always complaining about the way the world is but so insistent they could never do anything to change it?

Reply from Gus Griffin:  The short answer is that very few people are capable of thinking for themselves.

They could certainly become more capable of thinking for themselves if it was expected of them, but the stronger people in their lives don’t want them to. So it continues to be easier to let others do their important thinking for them—their family, their religion, the norms of their peer group, their bosses, etc—and thus their ability to think for themselves becomes atrophied.

When he or she is confronted by someone who wants them to do something about what’s wrong—someone who does not resemble the people they normally “follow”—they are suddenly confronted by this whole other way of thinking that they have been avoiding. Especially if you are asking them to disagree with what they are currently being told to think.

It is actually easier (but not easy!) to get most people to switch who they follow than it is to get them to think for themselves. You are not just asking them to change their approach to a specific issue, you are actually asking them to swim against the general tide of how they conduct their life—which is much more confronting on the inside than it may appear to be on the outside.

Insisting (continuing to believe) they can’t do anything about it is their way of sticking to what works for them and thus staying inside their comfort zone.

In order to get people actually fixing what you think is wrong, you have to get them following you instead of the other guy—which is hard work and also an awful lot of responsibility–unless you are a control-freak and just love having a lot of people hanging on your every word.

Or you can get people actually acting on their own judgment and initiative: but to do that you have to overcome their habitual avoidance first. You have to keep on directing their attention to what actually needs attention (and what can be done about it) until slowly their aversion to looking straight at the problem is dispelled and they can see it for themselves. (This usually requires great patience and persistence.)

Once he or she can willingly look at it without cringing or feeling overwhelmed, only then can you get them to consider what to do about it. But then you will have an intelligent helper—a comrade—instead of a bumbling follower. You have liberated them from their cocoon.

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Posted August 13, 2019 at 1:29 pm by Gus Griffin · Permalink
In: Misc