Implicit Bias and Divorce: 5 Steps to Self-Discovery

Implicit bias is a relatively new concept in psychology / psychiatry that attempts to describe the unconscious biases and stereotypes that any person without conscious awareness forms. It is human nature to be prejudiced whether we want to admit it or not.

Prejudices arise from our education and experience as well as from our culture and history. It is generally accepted that our minds form prejudices based on unconscious associations over time. Ironically, intelligence has nothing to do with it. The smarter you are, the more likely you are to have implicit biases.

Here’s what you need to know about implicit bias:

We are 90% unaware of our thoughts.

Science explains that our minds are like icebergs, with our consciousness being represented by 10% of the iceberg above the surface of the water and our unconscious being represented by 90% of the iceberg below the surface of the water.

There is a test available online known as Implicit Association Test (IAT), which was developed by psychologist Tony Greenwald and has torn the cover of implicit biases. It shows that our concepts of “good / bad”, “right / wrong” and “like / dislike” are the result of implicit bias and no one is free from bias.

When we become familiar with the fact that a large part of our mind is unknown to us, we become very aware of the effects of our unconscious on our consciousness. Especially when consciousness conflicts with our unconscious, we are more likely to experience fear, stress and ultimately burnout.

What does all of this have to do with relationships and divorce?

Often marriages fail and we don’t know why. People “grow apart”, “change” or “fall out of love”. What happens is that the longer people live together, the more their implicit bias is exposed. As a result, these minor nuisances at the beginning of a relationship become game changers over time, often leading to a divorce.

When coaching people who have failed relationships or are getting divorced, I often find that there are unconscious trauma, beliefs, decisions, emotions or thoughts that conflict with their goals, work, expectations and dreams. Willpower and determination only make the conflict worse.

As with the quicksand fight, white knuckles and clenched jaws only serve to make the hidden block fight more intense and deadly. Customers describe the effect metaphorically as driving a car with one foot fully on the accelerator and the other fully on the brake pedal. They feel like their wheels are spinning and still not going anywhere. They feel stuck and their relationships are shaky.

To have a new conscious experience of reality

The new neuroscience behind implicit bias affirms that the unconscious has a lot to do with our conscious experience of reality. Hence, the thesis that healing or releasing unconscious negative memories, decisions, beliefs and trauma can vastly improve your experience is real. You can begin to see your partner for who they are instead of what you are thinking and to communicate on a deeper level.

Here are five ways you can spot your implicit tendency:

  • Make a table of personal likes and dislikes. How you decide which column to put items in is likely due to implicit bias.
  • Make a list of what you believe. Then ask yourself, “Why do I believe this? When did I decide that was true? What if it wasn’t true? “
  • List the negative emotions that you experience on a daily basis, be it fear, sadness, anger, guilt, shame, terror, depression, anger, hate, jealousy, lust, or disgust. Then list what you were thinking just before feeling the emotion. That thought was likely the conscious manifestation of an implicit bias.
  • As you ponder what you don’t like about your life, identify what beliefs you would need to change in order to change your life. Any resistance to changing your beliefs would result from implicit prejudices.
  • Look at what you want in life and think that it is based on implicit prejudice. Even Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs (physiology, security, connection, appreciation, and self-actualization) is based on implicit prejudice.

Once we become aware of our implicit bias, we can decide if we want to change. Until we are aware, we are like puppets controlled by these prejudices. Our implicit biases doom us to repeat mistakes in choosing partners or managing our relationships.

Here are some often hidden unconscious biases (decisions) that I often encounter:

  • I am a scam
  • I don’t deserve to be happy
  • I am a victim
  • Relationships are hard
  • You have to work hard and make sacrifices to be successful
  • Relationships are painful
  • I always choose hateful partners
  • Other people are lucky, not me.
  • I am not good enough
  • I should be ashamed

As you say these things to yourself, you will notice your body’s reaction to the statement. Does it feel right or is it a lie? The problem is that your consciousness cannot tell you. You can only see the effects of these biases through behavior and physical and emotional symptoms.

If you are showing symptoms of stress (mental and physical exhaustion, decline in performance, negative emotions such as guilt, shame, guilt, or despair), you may have implicit biases that contradict your conscious desires.

Another way to spot implicit bias is how you perceive the world. The world reflects your inner thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. In other words, you see what you are looking for and we are always looking for evidence that our beliefs are correct. If you think you are not good enough, then focus on any evidence that you are not measuring even though your belief is wrong. You will subconsciously connect with people who will acknowledge that you are defective.

Implicit bias makes relationship problems your partner’s fault. when we are actually the problem. When we understand that our subconscious is planting landmines in our relationships, we can understand what happened. When we understand what happened, we can choose a different relationship with ourselves and a partner.

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