Budget tips

Our finances and our excuses



Lucretius, in the first century, wrote that the mind surrenders itself selectively and we draw sweeping conclusions from selective impressions. Modern psychologist tell us that our perceptions are shaped by our minds. Psychologists use terms like cognitive dissonance and perceptual bias. Neuroscientists tell us that our emotional reactions are faster than our rational reactions and go to tell us that our amygdala reacts faster than our neocortex.

In other words, we kid ourselves and believe our own excuses and rationalisations. We tend to believe what we want to believe. If we had a different perspective we would have different beliefs. That raises the question “are my perceptions correct and how do I find out”. That can be a complicated, if not impossible, undertaking.

Finding a different perspective

Many years ago I read of an illustrious man who said he might ask himself what another person,  whom he held in high esteem, might say of his thoughts and actions. He thought it a good way of looking at something from a different perspective. He found this a good way of controlling his own impulses and biases. It worked for him as a quick reasonableness test of his thoughts and behaviours. (I wish I could remember who he was). It sounded like a strange idea at first.

It is pretty simple. Just ask “what would somebody else think of this idea”.

I tried this idea anyway, it worked.

This might work well for you or not so well. You might find the suggestion absurd. You could try it.

Using a different perspective

It is not unusual for a couple of quick checks to applied in business, as a quick check on how communications and actions might be seen from a different perspective.

Firstly, it is said that one should not write anything at work that might finish up on  the front page of the newspaper or in the hands of the law. That is a quick, and quite reliable method of checking whether you are kidding yourself. In the first case one asks how the communication would appear from the perspective of the general public. In the second, how would this appear appear from the perspective of a law enforcement agency.

Secondly, one should not do anything that one does not want others to know about. That is also a quick check of another perspective sometimes used in business.

You could take it a little further, in the privacy of your own mind, by asking such a question of anything you are doing. You may get a different perspective.

What are your thoughts?


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