Honest, not necessarily correct
We interpret the world through a lens that is molded by our own personal experience and conditioning. Through this, we ascribe meaning to actions and try to intuit intention of others - theory of mind.
There are clearly situations where this faculty is completely off though. For example : Unrequited romantic interest.
The more dangerous aspect of this, is that we are blind to it. Introspectively unable to see that we might be misreading a situation.
Most people understand this is true and can give several examples in their own life. The person who sings in front of a crowd, mistakenly thinking they are Madonna. The person who writes a whole novel thinking it is a masterpiece but instead it turns out to be a flop. (The person who writes a blogpost that completely loses the reader).
There is a disconnect between the mental assessment of a situation, and the reality of the situation that we are blind to.
How do we ‘unblind ourselves’?
Ask for feedback
Always ask another person who is seeing a situation from the outside. Take in their input and reassess. Once again, don’t 100% believe it- it is data.
Expose yourself to external critique. In academics, the exam score is a valid representation. In artistic domains, the audience opinion is a valid criteria. In a business, making money is a valid criteria. External metrics are valuable for exposing yourself to reality.
Obtain feedback and iterate.
Entertain the fact that you are completely wrong. You might have spent years dancing, and think you are a fantastic dancer, but entertain the fact that you are not.
Dancing is an easier topic to deal with, because at the end of the day, you are constantly exposed to feedback (if dancing with others!)
But take another scenario. Take a deep held belief. Suppose you are a devout Christian. You believe in God, in Heaven and Hell, in original sin.
Now entertain the fact that you are completely wrong. This is analogous to taking a knife, and carving a hole in the back of the box. It’s allowing light into the system to ponder a different alternative.
Assign probabilities to your belief.
Never believe that you 100% understand something. Even if you are really sure (this is the danger zone!) - remember that you don’t know what you don’t know.
So with your beliefs- assign a probability. You will notice a new tag on the post- confidence in opinion.
Do this for all the important beliefs and situations.
There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.- Donald Rumsfeld
There are things we don’t know that we don’t know. We are blind to. It is your responsibility to unblind yourself (a continual process).
Assign probabilities to your beliefs. Don’t hold on so tightly. Ask for feedback. More importantly, always hold the intention to ‘poke’ a hole into your introspective landscape to allow other viewpoints through.
If you don’t cringe at a some of your previous beliefs, you are doing it wrong.