From Anne R. Allen’s Blog:
“Think outside the box” has become a mindless cliché these days. It’s repeated so often that the meaning has pretty much disappeared.
But it’s still excellent advice—if you know how to follow it. Unfortunately, most people are unaware they’re inside boxes, so they have no idea what it means to think outside of one.
Discussing somebody’s “box” can be like talking to a fish about water. The “box” is all there is.
Most of us are boxed in by beliefs that have been programed into our brains from day one by our culture, families, politics, and that 4th Grade teacher who told you if you kept reading comic books, you’d never amount to anything.
Shamers like the anti-comic book teacher are dangerous because you usually don’t remember them. You may have forgotten your 4th Grade teacher’s name.
All you know is you feel guilty when you read things you enjoy—plus you have a secret, persistent fear that you’re never going to amount to anything.
Very often a belief you’re sure “everybody knows” has come from a random shamer who once made you feel bad because of your lack of knowledge of a particular subject. Sometimes they’re authority figures, but often they’re just bullies or “know-it-alls.”
It may very well be that the shamer was even more ignorant than you, or just plain wrong. But an authoritative tone made you accept the statement as fact. (Remember that the most ignorant people are usually the most confident. That’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect.)
. . . .
The first thing you hear about a subject is filed in your brain as fact. Especially when coupled with an emotional experience. It’s how the brain works.
You put your little hand in fire and got burned, so you learned that fire is hot. That fact becomes hardwired to your brain—part of your sense of self. You’re a smart primate who knows fire is hot.
An authoritative person speaking in a demeaning tone can have the same effect as a burn. A shaming tone programs people to accept information as fact.
. . . .
False information imprisons victims in a box. Unless they’re somehow shocked into questioning why they believe the misinformation, they can’t escape.
I started reading about this after a bizarre incident working in a bookstore. The owner made me shelve the collected works of Emily Dickinson in the Romance section. She insisted Emily Dickinson wrote “girly trash.”
Nothing I said could change her mind, in spite of the fact she “adored” Emily Dickinson.
I finally figured out some uneducated, sexist moron must have shamed my boss for loving Emily Dickinson when she was young. So she had created a false belief that became hardwired to her brain.
Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog