I once saw it stated that “The words you say to your children become the voice in their heads as adults.” As a parent myself, I think about this a lot (this will be a slightly different angle than the normal Thinking About Thinking entry).

I’ve thought quite a bit about expanding on that concept. What are the voices in your head?

Are they encouraging, discouraging, judgmental? They’re probably, yes, a reflection of the way you were socialized – by parents, other family members, society at large, etc. But I sometimes think about our ‘head voices’ having their own professions or specializations.

Altruism, engage!

For example, I’ve got a couple lawyers in my head. I have a prosecuting attorney that lays out the case against whatever I’m thinking about – including my own actions. I’ve got a defense attorney that lays out the case in favor. These two forces are constantly arguing with one another, and my conscience is left to be a judge of sorts, and to find truth in the tension between the other two.

Lots of people have cops in their heads. I think that notion of justice is an important one, and one our society encourages in childhood. The cop is constantly noting infractions and consequences. Always reflecting to you how your actions or the actions of others are in violation of a not-so-clearly-defined code, and how as a result they should see the consequences. It’s a very self-critical voice. An enforcement voice.

Some people have therapists. The therapist flags mistakes, like the cop. But unlike the cop, the therapist wants to manage your reactions, to figure out ‘So where do we go from here? How can we deal with this?’. The therapist also notes your successes and encourages you.

I think there are likely many other professions I’m missing.

What does any of this have to do with thinking, or critical
thought?

Well… everything! The voice in your head determines your worldview. The thoughts that you apply to yourself, you’re likely to think of as being pretty much universally true. The “golden rule” may be “treat others as you wish to be treated,” but what if not everybody wishes to be treated the same way?

How It Works!

How Do-Goodery Works

Thus, critical thinking requires an awareness of your
internal lens, your worldview, how you see yourself and the world around you.

Does that voice introduce biases? Absolutely, yes!

How to acknowledge and work past them? Ah, now therein lies
the struggle. Stay tuned for next week.

Until next time…keep thinking!