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Meta Cognition – Thinking about our thinking

“The most challenging part of being in a relationship is coming to realize the other person is not you.” ~ Kevin Buck

In the process of thinking about our thinking, we may come to realize that others think differently than ourselves. For most of us, we are more bewildered, than curious about how this might be. I may be completely baffled as to how and why you think and act differently than me. When our only lens is our own self-referencing lens, then others do seem strange.

A rite of passage for most of us is the first time we spend the night at a friend’s house. Unbeknownst to us, we have wandered into a seemingly familiar territory that can end up being oh so foreign. I must have been about eight years old when I slept over at a neighbor’s house across the street. Now everything seemed fairly normal till we went downstairs in the morning for breakfast.

I had smelled the wonderful aroma of pancakes wafting from the kitchen downstairs into the bedroom upstairs. I love pancakes! As I made my way downstairs to the kitchen I was filled with desirous anticipation and hunger. Mrs. Anderson was making pancakes on the griddle and cooking up sausages in another pan on the stove. I saw her pouring the batter onto the griddle and was suddenly stunned. The pancake she was making was tiny! Yikes! In my house that meant only one thing – we were out of batter. I was so perplexed; how could she be out of batter before we even started? Then to my utter disbelief, she poured another tiny pancake and then another. Why was she doing this?!

My lens for pancakes was that my mother poured “honkin” sized pancakes that filled an entire plate. You could only eat a couple. With this new experience of pancakes, I had to recalculate. How many of these tiny little pancakes would I need to eat? Why would anyone do it this way? Why would you make ten or twelve tiny little pancakes when you could get the job done with a lot less “honkin” pancakes? These people are strange!

As I reflect on this experience, I see how much my family experience had influenced what was “right” about making pancakes, along with a million other self –referenced biases. The neighbors were strange compared to my home-grown experience of pancakes. However, it was a turning point for me. It created an unquenchable curiosity for me about other people and why they might be different than me. Thanks Mrs. Anderson!

How have you turned your bewilderment into curiosity about others?

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