An Awareness Exercise To Acknowledge Unconscious Biases
Freeing myself from certain unconscious biases seemed to be the most difficult thing I could ever do. Until the day I tried one particular awareness exercise that proved to be most effective of all.
Quite unexpectedly, it all became clear to me during a mindfulness class, while chewing a raisin. It was a very simple awareness exercise: focus the attention on eating that sweet delight. While I was moving the raisin through my mouth, I realised it does not taste as sweet as I thought it would. Have I chosen a bad raisin from the jar? No, I have not. The actual taste of a raisin is bitter sweet. It has always been.
But for the first time I was really paying attention to it. Until that moment of true bliss, I assumed, as most people probably do, that the raisin is soooo… incredibly sweet.
Truth is, I really like raisins and I eat lots of them daily, but if I were to consciously choose a handful of bitter raisins as dessert, would I have done it prior to this awareness exercise? The answer is NO. Dessert is supposed to be sweet and our biases determine our choices.
While chewing the raisin I finally understood the scenario I was functioning upon. I like to name it The Big 3 because addressing these three issues was crucial for me.
1. What Unconscious Biases Truly Are?
Assumptions. Information I was given as true and never questioned. Some of them are not harmful at all, like, for example: The raisins are sweet. But there are other unconscious biases working deep down and shaping my life: I have to work harder and harder in order to have a good life; Yoga is only for the very flexible people; You have to do what your parents tell you to, or You have to marry, buy a house and have kids.
2. How Do Unconscious Biases Work?
By conditioning me to see the reality through somebody else’s filters, not my own. By reducing the amount of experiences I could have had would I have been showing trust and respect to myself and to the world around me.
3. Why Are Unconscious Biases So Harmful For My Mind?
Because they determine my choices. Acting automatically upon a bias led me to unwanted places or into unhealthy relationships many times. It was not the choice itself that often gave me a hard time, but how unhappy the result of it made me. It was also the dreadful feeling that there is no other way, that I might be doomed.
Even my teenage rebellions were sometimes doubled by the panic of breaking the rules. Who’s rules though? Even my impulsive decisions as an adult fed my fear of not having the right to question the world. Who said it wasn’t my right?
Before understanding the concept of unconscious bias, I was living with guilt every time I was rising myself against one.
Am I bias free now? No, I am not. There is a big chance I will never be. But the most important change in my life came by becoming aware of my choices and by taking responsibility for them. I still make harsh moves in my job and with my relationships, but they are not rebellious anymore. They are conscious decisions. The result of some sort of detective work I do with myself each time I have to make a choice, by revisiting my precious awareness exercise. The only difference is that I don’t chew a raisin, but a bias.
Spark Your Bloom Today And Every Day!