Look vs Outlook

Aren’t looks the biggest thing in life, particularly in adolescence? Not just an outward physical appearance; this really is about sounding right, seeming good and appearing like the best at what we do, in the eyes of others. We care about how we look to others, and in the same light, we also possibly tend to see others based on how they appear to us (not how they really are).

Outlook, hence, is an abstract concept. It is all about the mind, and never about the eyes. Like an attitude, on which we base the meaning of our perceptions. Somewhat like a brain that receives light signals and breaks them up into colour and perceives colour. Likewise, we perceive intentions, actions, emotions and ideas based on the emotional receptor mechanisms in our mind. These seem complex but they are thought filters through which we see the world. These are called biases.

What a bias really is

We are all familiar with partiality, right? Have you noticed how you sometimes blindly accept some people, follow what they say, and obey them unconditionally? And on the other hand, you immediately and instinctively reject others, even though they may be making the right suggestions for you? Bias is the reason for this. Biases are pre-judgements and they’re very automatic. Because we have biases, we see things from a subjective point of view and make it about us and our viewpoint. This way we lose context of reality. A common example here could be some negative behaviour like not studying, for instance. Parents would say you should, but some of your peers insist that you could just play some online game or go for a movie together instead. And you most likely follow your friends. You are biased towards believing that your friends are right and parents, probably wrong.

Automatic nature of biases

Cognitive biases are automated patterns of thinking that lead to inaccurate or rather unreasonable conclusions. But then you might wonder, why do we use biases? We should just sit back and think and then make our decisions impromptu in most situations. We would be safer that way. But the advantage of a cognitive bias is that it helps us make quicker decisions. It’s like an automatic reaction which occurs without thinking. But these decisions aren’t always accurate. It’s important to be aware of your cognitive bias and attempt to counter their negative effects whenever possible. Like how you blindly follow what a particular friend says because you have pre-decided that he or she is right, be it about studies or sport or a general opinion. This makes you always turn to this friend or confidante for guidance. But what if this person is wrong and you get misguided? We have to make the automatic process a little more conscious to make sure you are making the right call.

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Dr Shefali Batra
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Dr Shefali Batra

Dr Shefali Batra is a Senior Psychiatrist and CBT Expert, and is the Founder of Mindframes. She posts and conducts regular ‘lives’ on Instagram @drshefalibatra.