In light of this, I surprised myself a couple weeks ago when watching a movie. The movie itself is not relevant, except for the final scene. In this scene, the main character gives an expensive Palm Beach house to a poor country couple, still looking unshaven and wearing overalls. Without realizing it, I was thinking "that's not right, they don't fit in in Palm Beach. They should live out in the country somewhere." This thought surprised me. It should not matter where they are from, or what they look like, when determining what neighborhoods they can live in. I realized that this must be due to some subconscious prejudice against people from the country coming to live in nice parts of the city.
This got me to thinking: what other sub-conscious prejudices might I have? It is a sobering thought, to see that maybe I am not as open minded as I had thought, yet I might not even recognize it. So, I have been trying to figure out how I could possibly identify some of these sub-conscious thoughts, before they can have a negative effect on my actions. Below I will not talk about what I found, but instead the methods I have used to discover these prejudices.
What makes you uncomfortable
What originally got me thinking with the movie was that it made me uncomfortable. So, one thing that you could do is observe yourself throughout your day to day life, and try to see what specific things make you uncomfortable. Of course, many of these will have a good reason. However, some might just turn out to be caused by some unconscious thought you are having. It is those thoughts you want to identify, so you can be aware of them while making future decisions.
Thoughts you cannot let yourself think
Sometimes, you might get a thought, and instantly discard it as a waste of time. Well, sometimes it might be useful to look at why that thought is a waste of time. Is it actually something that is not worth your effort, or something you are suppressing. Once you find one that does not have a clear reason for being a waste of time, you might just have found an unknown prejudice.
Finally, look at your actions. Who do you greet on the street? Where do you donate money? Would you turn down an invitation to an nontraditional wedding? These actions have the potential to be very telling about what goes on behind your conscious thoughts. Do you have a clear reason for taking one action over another, or is your subconsciousness doing that for you?
I will admit, I have not tested these methods that much. Maybe my thoughts during that movie scene were a one time deal, and I don't have others lurking below the surface. However, in order to make the most informed actions as possible, I would like to know what other factors affect my decisions. I will be taking a closer look at my life over the next few weeks, will you?
And as always, feel free to call Teen Link if you would like to talk to somebody while working through any of this: 1-866-TEENLINK (833-6546) every night from 6pm to 10pm.