“First off, don’t let the force of the impression carry you away. Say to it,’hold up a bit and let me see who you are and where you are from-let me put you to the test’…”- Epictetus
One of the wonders of your mind is the quickness with which it can comprehend and categorize things. As Malcolm Gladwell wrote in Blink, we are constantly making split-second decisions based on years of experience and knowledge as well as using the same skill to confirm prejudices, stereotypes, and assumptions. Clearly, the former thinking is a source of strength, whereas the latter is a great weakness.
We lose very little by taking a beat to consider our own thoughts. Is this really so bad? What do I really know about this person? Why do I have such strong feelings here? Is anxiety really adding much to the situation? What’s so special about_______?
By asking these questions-by putting our impressions to the test as Epictetus recommends-we’re less likely to be carried away by them or make a move on a mistaken or biased one. We’re still free to use our instincts, but we should always, as the Russian proverb says,”trust, but verify.”