A Picky Culture

Juan Robles-Gil

For better or for worse, the digital age has brought us immediate access to seemingly infinite amounts of information and access to a gargantuan amount of goods and services. You only have to stand in the toothpaste section of any major pharmacy to see a sectional representation of the plethora of choices a consumer is faced with everyday.

The explosive relationship between the internet, the free market economy, and constant social media involvement has emphasized the nuances and impact of every choice we make.

It has become common for groups of people to scold less informed consumers for the uninformed choices they make. Ideal choices ought to be environmentally friendly, socio politically conscious and health driven. The scrutiny is more rigorous than ever when we are faced to choose what’s best for us.

Many of you may know the do’s and dont’s surrounding food choices, effectively representing our culture of informed picky eaters. But are you a picky thinker?

We might not be able to control what comes into our minds, but we can certainly choose what thoughts and beliefs we adhere to.

Similar to the free market, our mind can offer us an infinite amount of thoughts, and it is up to us to decide what to do with them. Some of the thoughts will prove vital to our success and the construction of a meaningful life. Other thoughts will significantly hinder us and work against our growth.

Albert Ellis, the founder of REBT therapy, divided everyday life thoughts and beliefs into two groups: irrational and rational. Irrational thoughts and beliefs, he proposed, are at the root of emotional disturbance. He advocated for people to rigorously challenge their irrational thoughts with the use of reason to achieve some degree of control over their emotions.

So, how do we choose which thoughts and beliefs we keep and which ones we don’t?

Start by identifying whether the belief you are holding about something is rational or irrational.

Irrational beliefs:

  • Exist on the extreme sides of a binary spectrum ( Black or white thinking).
  • Are rigid and inflexible.
  • They are not aligned with observable reality (there is lo hard empirical evidence to justify them)
  • They do not follow logical order.
  • They work against your long term goals (provided that your goals are self-preserving and pro-social)

Rational beliefs:

  • are flexible and acknowledge the grey areas between extremes of human experience.
  • are aligned with observable reality
  • are logically sound
  • they work towards your long term goals (provided they are self-preserving and pro-social).

Let’s analyze the thought “I am a failure if I can’t be making X amount of money before I’m X years old” as an example.

Is that a flexible thought that acknowledges the grey areas of human experience? Is it backed by hard evidence? If you are not making a certain amount of money by a certain deadline, does it logically follow that you are, in your totality, a failure? Is this a self-preserving thought? A helpful thought?

Next time you find yourself feeling as if your emotions are taking over, evaluate your thought choices. What is the quality of the thoughts you are consuming? Are they rational or irrational?

Consuming irrational thoughts on a daily basis will exacerbate unhealthy emotions such as depression and anxiety.

Remember, not only are you what you eat. You are also what you think. Are you being a picky thinker?

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