Editor's Note: Welcome to our new collaborator, Paula Jensen of Dakota Resources. She works directly with small towns and rural communities as a community coach. I like his positive approach to rural places. I can not wait to share his thoughts with you regularly! -Becky
By Paula Jensen
I stood with a blue marker in my hand, writing on the white flip chart as I facilitated a community group that reflected on all the factors that had to be true to achieve their goal of building stronger bonds with the community. As they named several statements, I wrote them on the flip chart – "strong communication, difficult discussions … and finally, people must have their own thoughts and ideas." The last statement I had was curious and needed clarity from the group. I asked for an example of why people do not currently think by themselves. A member of the group spoke: "When the negative voices of our community start to make noise, it distances us from our goal and we move away from each other … very soon, people start to believe what is strongest rather than to look for the facts. "has led me to do some of my own research to find an answer to the question" How can we help people learn to think for themselves? "
My research led me to a study conducted in 2014 by a group of researchers from the University of Virginia. Participants were invited to sit in a room and reflect. Pretty easy, right? Researchers quickly realized that the task of staying alone in thinking was not as simple as they thought. Study participants struggled to sit with their thoughts for a limited time of 15 minutes. Left in a room containing only their thoughts, participants could sit quietly or choose to receive a stimulus, an electric shock. Surprisingly, 70% of men and 25% of women submitted to electric shocks, instead of taking a few minutes to think.
Research shows that we may live in a world of non-thinkers. In the end, this deficiency leads to a population that can not tell the difference between fact and opinion.
We all face daily problems in our personal lives and in our communities. These issues require us to think about a solution, whether it's who to vote for, what job offer to accept, or how to deal with a negative member of the community. These decision-making opportunities should lead us to examine the facts, ask questions, seek advice and take action.
If you would rather receive an electric shock than think for yourself, I invite you to consider the following questions to start the process:
What are the facts? If someone tries to convince you of something, look for evidence to prove that the facts are shared. Demand to be convinced and do some of your own research using reliable sources.
What do I like? (and why?) You may be surprised to learn how many of your cultural values have been shaped by family, community, religion, schools, organizations or employers. Write a list of things that you enjoy as a member of these groups. Then decide if you really believe these values or not.
What are the opposing points of view? A good way to make your own opinion is to make sure that you receive opinions from many different points of view, not just from one person's opinion. Document the points of view, give yourself time to sort them, then make your own decision.
How can I resist peer pressure? If many friends say the same thing, avoid making your decision based on the pressure of your peers. Sometimes it's better not to answer, because the more you do, the more others might try to convince you of their point of view.
How do my values align with this decision? Learning to think for yourself will not have much impact if you do not act according to what you are worth and what you believe. Once you have had time to think, decide how you will act and stick to it.
How to monitor my progress? Keep a diary. Start by describing a situation that is important to you. Then write in detail how you responded to the situation. Then write how you will react in the future.
If you have had trouble thinking for yourself in the past, you may find that you are influenced by other people the first time you try. It's good! Changing thinking habits is one of the most difficult habits to change. Give yourself time to learn to resist the opinions of others, to look for evidence and to think for yourself!
I think you now … is not it?
About Paula Jensen
Paula Jensen's passion for personal and professional life is her passion for community development and leadership. Paula resides in her home town of Langford, South Dakota, whose population is over 318 years old. She is a grant writer and community coach for Dakota Resources, based in Renner, South Dakota. Dakota Resources is a 501c3 community development financial institution that aims to stimulate financial and human investment in rural communities that invest in their communities. Contact her at [email protected]
- It's time for us to start thinking for ourselves 27th October 2018