Lyrics from En Vogue’s Free Your Mind
We all walk around seeing people and the world through filters.
This is because of how our brain works to categorize the huge amounts of information coming at us each and every waking moment. Without this automatic categorization life would become unwieldy and overwhelming.
However, this categorization leads us to make many assumptions about others and their motivations. And it is such a gift to be able to offer another human being the opportunity to truly be seen for who they are.
Can you think of a time when someone truly saw you and your heart? How did that feel? It can be profound. It can also be scary if you learned being seen was dangerous.
When we come from a place of curiosity it’s like we are pausing our assumptions and categorizations and trying to let the person show us who they truly are.
In addition to this tendency to categorize, we tend to be more negative in the assumptions and judgements we make about people we see as ‘other’ or ‘different’ from ourselves. This shortcut in our brain creates fertile ground for bias and prejudice.
This does not in itself make you a bad person. These patterns are difficult to unlearn and our society does a lot to reinforce them. But you do have the power to start recognizing these categorizations and not buy into them or act on them.
And on a side note – I love this En Vogue song, despite their advocating the outdated notion of being color blind. Seeing people for who they truly are includes who they are given their skin color and what this might mean about their lived experiences.