How people come to conclusions and develop habits of change is based on an association system. It’s simple. You touch fire, it hurts so you never touch it again. Fire is associated with pain. This is a simple example so it’s easy to relate to. What happens when it gets more complicated?
- People like to believe themselves. It’s an ego booster
- Associations aren’t truth. They are only reality to the individual who made them
- Basic pattern recognition leads to general associations
- It’s easier for people to believe simple associations than it is for them to question them
- People don’t like confusion so they defend associations as truths
- Once an association is recognized consistently, the ego reinforces it as truth
- No one can see an association of someone else
Habits of Change
From the day someone is born, they begin to make associations. Babies recognize patterns very early. When they cry, the mother comes and gives them food. Now they associate crying with food. As we get older, there are other associations we make to help us survive. If we ask politely, we find that it seems to get us what we want more often than asking rudely. When people make associations like this, they believe their way is the “right” way of doing things. While that may be true for them, the opposite may be true for someone else.
Associations are made from guesses. Not everyone is a scientist, so they are not always educated guesses. If someone was robbed by a group of Chinese people, they are likely to feel uncomfortable around a group of Chinese people. If he/she were to see a group of Chinese people while out with a friend, the friend wouldn’t think anything of it. At the same time, that person is panicking while the friend is completely unaware. This is why sometimes people will be confused as to why others can’t see something their way. It’s because they haven’t made the same association as they have. Unless someone has the same exact experience, they probably can’t comprehend the reaction.
Sometimes associations are made passively. All behavior is learned. So when a child grows up in a Christian family under a strict parenting, they will make associations about life based on at least some of that upbringing. The experiences being raised that way lead to associations that are “truth” to the individual. They wouldn’t believe anything that contradicts their lifestyle or upbringing because that would mean that “truth” is “false”. People like to avoid confusion. It’s easier for them to accept their own experiences and dismiss someone else than it would be to listen and try to comprehend someone else’s experiences. They simply won’t get it unless they’ve experienced it themselves and have personal reinforcement.
Let’s take exercise for example. Some people might make the association “jogging = exercise”. Why they made that association could be because they’ve seen other people jogging or they’ve tried it and it made them feel good. Some people on the other hand think “jogging = back pain” and they’re right as well because it did hurt their back. Trying to see what someone else is seeing is impossible. It’s like trying to think about a taste of a food you’ve never tasted. It can’t be done. When people are arguing, it’s because they don’t see eye to eye and they never will. The best thing they can do is accept there is differences in their lives and maybe present opportunities to share the experience. One thing to keep in mind is that a lot of associations are made by reflex, so try to understand another’s associations before encouraging them to experience yours.