This is Part Two of my free blog-book, Guidebook to Spiritual Journeys. A roadmap to cultivating your own spirituality amid current events. Learn how developing and exercising your critical thinking can help you maintain your inner Zen.
Be sure to check out Part One.
Critical Thinking and Discernment are buzzwords now.
Responsible research and literature reviews require actively engaging your critical thinking when you are evaluating information. Any time really, but especially if you plan on participating in adventures like exploring your spirituality, consciousness, or alternative topics. These two skills are absolutely…well, critical.
There are a variety of tools and techniques available to assist in developing your discernment and critical thinking. I discuss these in detail in my book, Essential Skills for Psychic Development, available at Amazon and other retailers.
We know intellectually that the Internet is mixed bag o’ cats. You can learn a ton just by clicking your keys, but is what you learn of value? To you? To the community?
Look, there is a lot of shade thrown online in the spirituality forums and groups. You can’t spend much time in the bigger groups without finding those members who talk the Love and Light until they run into some trigger, then it’s…
Most people will by nature and social conditioning gravitate toward things that validate am inner belief system, and reject anything that challenges their steady world.
This is confirmation bias.
On any topic, you’ll find “Do your research, Karen!” tossed around if you read both sides. However, finding true objectivity is rare.
If you are being truly objective, you have to give both sides an equal shakedown. Because if you don’t examine all the evidence. Or if you reject evidence because someone in authority told you so, you’re missing out on a good chunk of data. Which might have enough validity to forcibly alter or change your belief system.
Lots of folks find this unnerving.
Let’s do a quick thought exercise…
Pick your favorite issue. Not going to name any, that’s not the point here. This is for you, exploring these topics to go through the exercise.
Think about your own inner stance on it. What ever it is, how did you come to it? Think about the process.
Did you read an article or two? Just the headline and leading paragraph? Or do you frequent a number of news outlets or online communities on the subject?
There is no right or wrong here. You’re just examining your own inner means of evaluating the information you consume.
That’s all for now.
Let’s go back now, and talk about critical thinking.
Dictionary.com defines “critical thinking” as: the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue.
There’s that word objective again. This can be especially hard for empaths because we feel…everything.
Consider though, that developing the very objectivity required for thinking critically can help you in your spiritual journey, navigating both the outer and inner realms.
Critical thinking must be learned, practiced, and used regularly to be fully effective. It is never to late to start. Objectivity comes from separating from the emotional content of an issue, and simply examining facts.
I know, empaths, I know. We feel everything, it’s both a blessing and a curse. We use our feels consciously and subconsciously, and so separating from interpreting things with your empathic abilities can be difficult. You can though, learn to use your critical thinking in tandem with your psychic-empathic senses. This can help you buffer and protect yourself against the emotional pitfalls that plague our society.
Begin by asking questions that dive below the surface. Look for how the author supports any claims. With links to validating articles? What are the sources of these support articles?
Eliminate phrasing or words designed to elicit a specific emotional response. This will begin to peel back the non-essential information, helping to reveal the facts that contribute to truth.
You want to know facts, of course. But Facts and Truth are not always one and the same.
Does that sound contradictory? No. They are complementary.
Think about it for a minute.
We can memorize 2+2=4, or learn it visually through the use of objects. We can know facts that describe tangible, physical reality as well as some abstract concepts. The mathematical equation 2+2=4 is an abstract concept, but we can also apply it to real, 3D situations. If you have two apples, then someone gives you two more, you now have four apples.
Truth however, the capital “T” kind, is knowing all the facts. Truth is seeing the whole, not just portions, or segments of reality.
With me so far?
These look like very simple statements on the surface. They’re Duuh level on the Obvious Scale. Go back though, and re-read them.
Then ask yourself, “Do I know all the facts?”
Sometimes the answer is, “Yes.” For example, measurements of physical characteristics are true.
We can measure a cube, and calculate its volume, and we accept these numeric values as true. Indeed they are true in that they describe dimensions, but is that all there is to know of the cube?
The measurement “two inches” is immediately understood because we all agree upon the value of these words and concepts. It is true to say a cube that measures two inches on each side has a volume of eight cubic inches.
Does this completely describe the cube though? Do we know absolutely everything that is true about that little cube?
Of course not. We don’t have all the facts. We have no idea what the cube is made of, if it’s natural, or manufactured. If there’s any sort of markings or design on the surface. Is it even real—or just a math problem on a child’s test? You get the idea. We know some facts, but not all the facts.
Again, I realize this seems overtly simplistic. Stick with me. Baby steps. Thinking critically and objectively means facing ideas and concepts that challenge your beliefs and knowledge base.
If they don’t, you aren’t doing it right. It’s just hard to do in the face of things you’ve been told forever “just aren’t so.” Thing is, you’re here because you’ve experienced something, and are looking for deeper answers than you found through “regular” outlets.
Start with the baby steps. Give yourself time and space to approach examining challenging ideas with calm and open headspace. Take your time, and when more questions come up, honor that, and then keep going.
Here’s your first bit of homework.
What? You want to prove to yourself if it works or not, right? You have to put in the work to get the results.
Here it is:
Remember that thought exercise earlier on your favorite issue? Now you get to do your research.
Look at a couple sites outside of your regular channels that present a divergent point of view and strive to read and objectively consider the data.
It’s okay to pick something easy, especially the first time.
Strive to read past the author’s attempts to sway you their point of view. Which means you must identify words and phrases that are designed to pull your emotions in a particular direction and discard their emotive content from your analysis.
You knew the media did that, right?
Next chapter: The Really Big Picture of What’s Going On.
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