Preferences and Prejudices

By Chris Chittenden

We are all on a journey that we know as life. That journey is a unique and personal experience for each one of us such that we can only ever truly know what is happening for us as an individual, even though we often feel that we know what is going on for others. As on any journey, we have a sense of direction about how we are moving and, at any point in time, we can make assessments about where we have been, where we are and where we are going.

It is useful to distinguish two orientations human beings have in life that relate to movement and which have a significant impact on how we observe and act in the world. We tend to orient ourselves such that we are either moving away from something (our prejudices) or moving towards something (our preferences). We all have these orientations to varying degrees, but often we come across people, which may include ourselves, who are predominantly oriented one way or the other. This can lead to some ways of being in life to which we are blind.

If we are predominantly oriented to move away from things that we assess do not serve us very well, we tend to know what we don't want but not necessarily what we do. As a result, our predisposition can easily be one of avoidance, where we look for the things we are trying to stay away from rather than looking for what we want to attain. Associated with this predisposition tends to be a mood of resignation and a tendency to drift through life having no clear sense of where we want to go just where we don't want to be.

If we are predominantly oriented to move towards what we want in life (our preferences), our mood tends to be more curious and ambitious. We seek out opportunity and look for the things that fit with what we want to achieve. This leads us to be more focused and energised about what we are seeking to attain in life.

There is nothing right or wrong about our prejudices and preferences, after all we all have them. As with many things in life, the key to being successful in terms of how you define success, is balance. No doubt, there are many things you would not like to experience again in your life and so avoid. On the other hand, there are surely things you want to set your sights on and achieve. At various times, you are most likely to lean to one or other orientation in life. The trick is to be aware of your orientation and the impact it might be having on how you are observing any given situation. Being in touch with your moods and emotions can be a valuable window to recognising these orientations and being able to manage and shift your moods a powerful ally in creating the orientation you prefer in life at any given time.

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© 2002 Chris Chittenden