This Mental Mistake is an Epidemic

    It’s easy to make judgments based on headlines, sound-bites, and a few sentences in an email. Jumping to conclusions based on limited data seems to be a growing epidemic. Maybe it’s our increasing habit of transferring tiny bits of info that is fueling this trend. In this post, we’ll explore the mental mistake of jumping to conclusions and why it’s such a dangerous habit.

    This week we received a lot of email feedback, as we always do. A few of them struck a harsh chord. They often go something like this:

    “I can’t believe you would say such and such. There is no scientific evidence for that. You are just trying to make money off other people’s ignorance. For example, telling people that they can do “X and Y” to change their “Z” is a bunch of lies. You don’t know what it’s like. You should be ashamed for raising people’s hopes up.”

    Now, let me say that we receive a lot of emails and most are really supportive of what we do. However, there are some of these other ones that tend to jump out at you. I want to highlight this because I think it’s indicative of an epidemic of jumping to conclusions based on limited evidence and misattribution of another’s intent.

    Let’s explore these two faulty mental maneuvers.

    The first one I’ll call “poor science.” I am sure that I could show you scientific evidence to support almost any conclusion you could think of. Yes, a scientific approach is important to weed out what is helpful from what is harmful, what is accurate from what is inaccurate. We can all benefit from weighing evidence and testing our assumptions and conclusions. It’s important to test things out in our own experience and weigh them against what others have discovered and “proven.”

    However, I find that sometimes people who throw around “scientific evidence” come across in the least scientific way. “Science” is often used to justify what we already believe. It’s common to find a study that supports our belief system and then say, “Now there’s the real science.” That’s something to watch out for. That’s poor science.

    For example, if you look at a human being as primarily a bio-chemical system, you could justify prescribing drugs for depression. If you view humans as fundamentally beings of “consciousness” or “energy” which then informs the DNA and programs body chemistry, you would look at healing depression by transforming energy, perceptions, thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Depending on what you already believe, you could find science to support either or both points of view.

    A second maneuver is to think that we know what someone else is thinking, what they’ve been through, or what they intend. It’s easy to assume a “mind-reading” position. It’s important to recognize that we don’t know what someone else is thinking, what they’ve been through, or what they intend. We may very easily misinterpret things according to our own prejudices and judgments. For example, some people have difficulty with people charging money for teaching things like meditation, personal development, or spiritual growth practices. Another person may see these as equivalent to any other interest and talent that one shares to serve others and earn a living. Certainly you could find “good” and “bad” examples of both points of view.

    How often have you jumped to a conclusion that you later realized was just a misinterpretation once you checked it out more in-depth?

    The bottom line is: “We do not perceive things as they are, but always through a filter of our own preconceptions, judgments, intentions, beliefs, and how we feel at the moment.” I believe that the greatest service we can do for ourselves and others is to slow down a bit, take a breath, reflect on where we are coming from, and then seek to understand others better. When something pushes our buttons, we’ll help everyone out if we look at ourselves first to understand why something was such a “hot button” for us. If we take personal responsibility for our own feelings, we are much more likely to give others the benefit of the doubt.

    I welcome your comments and constructive feedback. 🙂

    Enjoy your practice,


    Kevin Schoeninger

    P.S. At Spiritual Growth Monthly we support each other to grow in insight, love, and understanding.

      4 Responses to “This Mental Mistake is an Epidemic”

      1. Hilary Reading says:

        Well said! I think we get ourselves into trouble when we think that our perception of something is the only one there is, and we do not stay open to receiving other points of view – it doesn’t mean we have to change our mind!

        1. Hi Hilary,
          Nice point. We can respect others points of view and take them into account with or without changing our own perspective. Our world is richer for diversity.

      2. Debra says:

        Hi Kevin,

        You are so right. If you look for the best in people, you usually find it. It’s like one of those glass half full things. If you think the person has the best of intention, they do and you can see it. You are planting seeds of wisdom that can help everyone. If they will let you.

        Cheers, Debra.

      3. Hello kevin
        Thank you for reminding us that we very often project on others situations from our own history and sometimes project ourselves in others forgetting that the person I meet is somebody else but not me.

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