Oversimplifying people: Putting yourself in a box

One of the easy ways for people to understand anything is to simply place it into a category.
If we understand what a category is, what that category idea means, then we see some new thing, we fit it into the category, OK, we can understand it to some level.
So we could have a category of what is a dog, and then we see something new, and maybe it’s a different type of dog, we’ve never seen it before, but we fit it into this category of dog, and so OK, we understand basically what a dog is.
And this is the simplest, most straightforward, completely understandable way to understand things.
And I think it’s always gonna be part of how we operate, because this is how we can get a quick judgment on new things, to say “OK, that’s like that other thing I know.” “That’s like that other thing I know.” Unfortunately, when it comes to applying this to people, you’re really missing so much complexity that it can really become putting somebody into a box, if you say “Oh, that’s that type of person.” And it could be a good category or bad category, neutral category.
Whatever it is, we say that’s a type of person.
And so once we put the person into that box, it’s almost like we don’t fully care as much about the details of what they do.
We just kind of- because on some degree, to some level, we just feel like oh, we understand them.
So it could be a category, you could say, like a successful entrepreneur.
Oo, OK, this person is a successful entrepreneur.
OK, what does that say? This person is a homeless drug addict.
OK, what does that say about the person? OK, they’re in that category.
So we use these categories as this quick judgment system, and it’s not all bad at all.
It’s a very useful system.
But I believe it’s very important to really know that this is what we’re doing, to notice that we are putting people into these particular categories, so that we know that we’re not seeing the full picture.
It’s just a reminder that OK, this is my broad, quick judgment that I’m using to make quick decisions, but there’s always room for surprises.
I think it’s good to always be open to being surprised by people.
Now, what happens if we apply these judgments to ourselves? Now, we know ourselves.
It’s not just like meeting somebody new, and then you have a quick judgment of oh, this is a successful entrepreneur, or this is a homeless drug addict, a nice category so you can kind of feel like you’ve judged that person, you know how to consider them.
But we could also do this to ourselves, and we can’t say that we don’t know ourselves better.
I mean, of course, all of us are far from full self-knowledge.
We only know part of ourselves.
But certainly better than somebody we just met.
So we can also apply categories to ourselves and say, you know, “I am part of this group.” Maybe it’s a cultural group, could be a professional group, could be a tribe of, you know, entertainment fans, or fans of a particular genre of art.
Could be you know a shared hobby.
Anything that kind of creates that, something that could be a label or a category that we could place ourselves in.
And by doing this, we can get an automatic identity boost.
It’s like automatically, if we identify ourselves as being part of this group, this category, this type of person, then we get all these associations that are connected with it just automatically, and we don’t have to define ourselves in every little detail, because we have this automatic tag on us.
And of course, if it’s a negative tag applied by other people, or even a negative tag applied by ourselves, then this can be very uncomfortable.
It feels like it’s impossible to break out of the connection of the tag, because if you are that tag, if you are that category, then that doesn’t change.
You might change, but if you are still part of that category, then you are stuck being that way.
I think it seems like a lot of people do this with placing negative labels on themselves, this sort of harsh judgments, and then feeling like they’re stuck in that harsh judgment, like having a judgment of failure.
It’s a judgment of being crazy, judgment of being lazy, judgment of being a bad person, or whatever it is.
Once that category is applied, if we really believe and really feel like we are in that group, in that box, it’s hard to get out of it, because “Oh, that’s just what I do, like, that’s me.
I’m that type of person, so automatically that’s the way I am, and it’s not going to change.” So if we place ourselves in a positive group, then that seems to have some advantages.
You can say that we can start to feel like we are connected with these other people that maybe we don’t even know them, but just other people that share the quality. […]

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