Lately I’ve noticed exactly how much the world enjoys living in ignorance. Naturally, I became curious as to why. I know I personally prefer to ignore the hard things in life and go on not knowing. While it can be easier to ignore what’s troubling us, it can become quite detrimental to our mental and physical health. So, how exactly can we escape it?
Blissful Ignorance – Agnotology
When I first began to reflect on ignorance it was because I heard the term Agnotology in a podcast (ologies). Agnotology is the study of culturally induced ignorance and how it’s used as a tool to divert our attention from social problems. A recent example is the pandemic, some people are being purposfully ignorant despite the very obvious signs it’s going on. While on a societal level its easy to see how the media and the input we get influences us. So I want to explore the reasons we want to be ignorant in every day life about every days things.
Why Do We Choose to Ignore Things?
Personally, when I am faced with a hard task I like to ignore or even procrastinate it, especially when I think I might fail. The brain likes use ignorance as a coping mechanism and if it isn’t there then it cannot cause us pain or hurt. It’s very much a survival instinct, similar to being afraid of what we cannot see in the dark. If it cannot be seen, it’s scary. If we don’t know what’s going to happen it can hurt us. And so, we can go through life blissfully avoiding/ignoring it. While this causes us less pain, that hurt is a part of life and helps us to grow, without it our mental health can suffer.
How Does it Effect Us Mentally?
Most of us have experience a situation when we would really like to do something but are afraid, so we dont try never knowing what would happen and thus we are kept ignorant. The issue with doing this is that it keeps us stagnant and wondering what if, as well as keeping us in a constant cycle of being afraid to try. That consistant cycle keeps us from progressing mentally and in many other aspects. We need to fail to learn and grow, without it people become less open minded. An analogy is when someone is confronted about their behaviour and how it effects the person. Sometimes they refuse to acknowledge that they did hurt someone, maybe its because it hurt that they themselves made a mistake. But the result is that they can’t grow and move forward, learning to handle confrontation and even apologise. They continue to be insensitive and go through life like that. These kinds of people also tend to lose others a lot because they refuse to change. For me, I try to embrace failure the best I can because I know the outcome, which is that I will become better because of it. Yes, its incredibly painful but we can be resiliant at times and we come out better because of it.
How Do We Escape?
Like most things we do, it’s definitely a mental battle. The mind can be powerful in stopping and starting new behaviours. Here’s some ways that I believe could help, it’s very much dependant on an individual, in saying that it’s fantastic to get ideas and try new things.
- Start small. Think of something small you’ve been avoiding. Going all in and trying new things constantly can be overwhelming and can have the opposite effect.
- Positive mental feedback. I tend to get thoughts where I put myself down but I’ve learn’t to automatically talk back to them. For example, saying you’re stupid. Tell yourself ‘no, I’m not’ back. Negative thoughts can have a major effect on ones belief in themselves.
- Praise and congradulate yourself when you achieve something. You struggled mentally and you’ve overcome. Celebrate in any way you can.
- Create a list. I used to think it was stupid to write down all my mental jargon. It totally isn’t, we need to express ourselves and correlate them somehow. Write a list as detailed or simple as you desire.
- Symbolism. This is a great way to channel your feelings. It might sound a littler bit strange but it can help especially when you’re first learning to overcome obstacles.
These are just some suggestions that might help. It’s about finding what works best for you. Many of us struggle with overcoming fear, but as long as we keep trying to push through them we shouldn’t feel guilty about lack of progress in life. And if anyone reading this is trying debating whether they should do something they’ve been afraid of, this is a sign! Thanks for reading!
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