Our familiarity with superstitions about food, health and love is old and common. But, few of us may have heard of ‘intellectual superstitions.’ These may be in the form of wishful thinking, emotional blindness, or thinking steeped in desire or colored by half-baked opinion.
One will not be able to think rightly, much less positively unless these intellectual tricksters are eliminated. When we want something, we tend to see it as we wish it to be. It is called wishful thinking. It is most unrealistic form of thinking, because it is far divorced from reality. In it, facts are given less importance and disregarded. On some occasions facts are seen through the mist of sentiment. Most often, the person makes no endeavor to identify facts or makes them pass through the sieve of his objectivity. Worst, facts are obtained only to turn and twist them and to suit the pre-reached conclusion. In such cases, the person merely expresses his wish as a conclusion and then feels that his conclusion is very dependable. It is not so and cannot be so. Rather, always go by facts and put facts into the crucible of your intelligence and then form conclusions.
The other sort of foolishness is the tendency to defend ourselves. It retards progress and development. No one can develop or progress unless he marks the areas of his weaknesses and shortcomings. All psycho-analysis is based on this principle. In it, complexes of the patient are mercilessly exposed and he is made to see them bare. This is to make him realize his complexes. The pitfall is there because man has a natural tendency to think well of himself. He also wants others to think well of him. When this need becomes over-riding, it prevents him from thinking straight and from admitting unpleasant truths about himself. This is applicable of this attempt to win others’ clean chit. This makes him oblivious of the fact that he is cheating himself.
Self-deception is the core of defensive thinking. He is fooled by his own thinking. His actions will not yield the right or desired results. A young man gets absorbed in a crime-thriller when he ought to be pouring over his own study, preparing for the next week’s examination. He develops a rationalization and feels the need of relaxation too. This is a defense to assuage his guilt feelings. His defense has made him reach a faculty, unsound conclusion that he needs rest. In fact, he is rationalizing his lazing away. This will go on despite the unconscious feeling of regret which is sure to follow.
This is the realization which opens our eyes wide to spot and talk about others’ shortcomings, but turn a blind eye to our own. It is this which eggs us on to make favorable generalizations about ourselves, which cannot stand the rest of scrutiny or analysis. Be merciless in your thinking about yourself. Pin-point your faults, weaknesses, shortcomings, etc., and do not soft-peddle your minus traits. Once you have marked these areas, go about removing them in a systematic manner. Watch against self-deception.
These are perhaps the worst contributory factors in retrogressive thinking. They always tend to be crooked because one’s own interests play the most dominant role in the process of thinking. In essence, they are that kinds of thinking, which allow persons to think that they are the center of the universe, and that the world exists to please them only.