Last weekend, we drove up north to be with friends for Canada Day.
As we passed through one small town, I noticed a pickup truck with a large Canadian flag on the back. My first thought was, “oh, great. It’s one of those freedom convoy people.”
It took me about three seconds to catch myself. My thoughts pointed to a bias of mine about people who identify with the freedom convoy crowd.
The problem is that flying our flag may have had nothing to do with the freedom convoy.
It was the evening before Canada Day. So it’s possible they were flying a Canadian flag to honour Canada’s birthday.
This experience reminded me of how much my biases play a role in my life.
And it was a reminder of how easily biases can enter our conscious thoughts in ways that can have us feeling they’re normal and proper.
A bias is: “a prejudice in favour of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.” — Dictionary.com
In other words, your biases are a filter and perspective by which you see the world.
To deny them means you will likely have an unintended impact on the world around you.
For many, myself included, at times, a bias brings on a feeling of shame. And, in this shame, the bias often gets buried and will continue to show up in unexpected ways.
Rather than denial or shame, start by acknowledging and understanding your biases.
For example, I know I’m biased toward a patriarchal culture.
Do I like that I have this bias?
Not in the least.
For the longest time, I held this bias in denial. I didn’t think I was biased in this way.
However, the truth is, I was responsible for helping to reinforce such cultures, and it all seemed normal to me. So I couldn’t see the problem.
Where did this bias come from? I wasn’t born with it. Yet, through my life experiences, I developed this bias.
We develop our biases through our societal experiences, corporate cultures, schooling, parents, friends, religion, politics and more all play a role in our biases.
In seeing and acknowledging my bias, I get the opportunity to start taking responsibility and changing my bias.
For example, I’ve become very conscious of using language to reinforce patriarchal cultures—simple things like working to eliminate the phrase “You guys” from my vocabulary.
Changing your biases isn’t easy, though, as it requires you to confront your truth.
However, the rewards for the effort are significant.
You get to live your life free of the burden that comes with biases. As a result, you will have a more significant impact on the people around you.
You will see the world around you differently.
I’m biased in many ways, and so are you.
Just don’t let your biases stop you from making your world a better place. It is a choice you get to make.
You’ve got this.