Goal: Navigating the Terrain of Objectivity and Subjectivity

In our quest for personal growth and understanding, we often find ourselves at the crossroads of objectivity and subjectivity. Understanding reality is crucial to personal growth and development. But we cannot forgo all human emotions and biases to conform our lives to cold reason.

Today, I explore the importance of objectivity and subjectivity in personal growth strategies. I examine why people are subjective and how that subjectivity hurts our individual growth. I also delve into how subjectivity, while a natural human tendency, can be manipulated by external entities such as the ruling classes, elites, and mobs, often to the detriment of individual autonomy.

I end the post by uncovering the path to greater objectivity without sacrificing your emotions and desires. By exploring practical strategies and reflective questions, I want to equip you with the tools to recognize and transcend your subjective biases. By doing so, you gain not just clarity of thought but also a more empowered stance in navigating life’s complexities.

Let’s begin by diving into the core concepts of subjectivity and objectivity, setting the stage for our exploration.

Table of Contents

  • The Mechanics of Subjectivity
    • Human Nature: The Root of Perception
    • Societal Influences: Lies, Deceptions, and Media Manipulation
    • Childhood Experiences: The Lasting Impact on Our Worldview
  • The Dual Faces of Subjectivity: Challenges and Benefits
  • Strategies for Cultivating Objectivity
    • Embracing Physical Challenges for Objective Insights
    • The Role of Emotional Detachment in Objective Thinking
    • Self-Assessment and Awareness: Keys to Objective Understanding
    • The Value of External Perspectives and Community Feedback
  • Conclusion: Embracing the Power of Objectivity
  • Actionables
    • Suggested Reading List

The Mechanics of Subjectivity

developing objectivity | woman with magnifying glass

Our individual perspectives can lead us astray. Developing objectivity when looking at your life and the world is essential.

Subjectivity is “the quality of being based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.” When subjective, we analyze a thing, person, or situation through what we feel or think. We are not looking at something as it is.

Objective reality exists outside of our perceptions. No matter your opinion or feelings on the matter, you will starve if you don’t eat. The objective reality of you being human and needing nourishment does not magically disappear because you want it to. Our subjectivity is secondary to what is real.

However, our subjectivity is not a bad thing. Our feelings, opinions, and thoughts should factor into our lives. For example, you cannot love someone purely based on reason and logic. Love is a subjective feeling. Although we should love virtuous individuals, there are many unique aspects of a person we may love that others may not. Your emotional experience should not be disregarded in such instances.

Three elements create subjectivity:

  • Human nature
  • Lies and deceptions provided by those above us
  • Trauma and pain from childhood

A key component in the puzzle of subjectivity is our inherent human nature. Let’s start our discussion by delving into how our natural tendencies shape our subjective views.

Human Nature: The Root of Perception

Understanding human nature and perception is crucial in recognizing how our subjective views are formed. For example, if we both saw a ball being thrown by an individual, was that a “toss,” or was it a “throw”? What’s the difference, and how does this change how we view what happened? If I thought it was a “toss,” I wouldn’t consider the thrower negatively. But if you thought it was a “throw,” you may believe the thrower was acting aggressively.

Humans perceive things differently, even if they share the same culture, family, values, and religion. We are individuals; this reality gives us a unique perspective on everything. There is no collective brain.

Beyond our individual nature, external forces heavily influence our perceptions. This brings us to the critical role of societal influences in shaping our subjectivity.

Societal Influences: Lies, Deceptions, and Media Manipulation

The media’s influence on perception and societal narratives often distorts our objective understanding of reality. The lies our teachers tell us, or the stories the elites feed us will change how we perceive the world. The media has great power in this regard, and it can be challenging to see beyond propaganda.

And we are all affected by it. I try to avoid calling people “sheep” because I can be just as deceived. For example, I will declare a governmental action terrible even if the outcome is good. My emotions, or subjective feelings, always lead me to view the state as evil. I struggle to give it credit because my personal beliefs make it difficult.

The lessons, entertainment, and media we consume force narratives into our minds. Even the noblest pursuit of truth will influence our perception. Unfortunately, the people who create our narratives are not noble. They frequently lie, so individuals will believe what is objectively not true.

For example, the media and entertainment industries argue the issues within the black community are created by police brutality. Obecjtively, police brutality is a small problem in the black community. Study and study, research after research, shows that single motherhood, fatherlessness, rampant crime, health issues, and poor child rearing are the issues facing the black community. However, ask the average person what black people struggle with, and they would state systemic racism or police brutality. Dishonest forces have shaped the average person’s subjective view of the world.

Another pivotal factor in developing our subjective lens is our early life experiences. Let’s explore how childhood shapes our worldview.

Childhood Experiences: The Lasting Impact on Our Worldview

children sitting on a bench

How we were treated as children will profoundly affect our beliefs about the world.

The influence of childhood on perception is a significant factor in shaping our subjective views. The trauma and goods we experienced when we were younger will undermine or support our growth and development in the long run. And such a childhood influences our subjectivity.

For example, spanking is wrong because initiating force is objectively wrong. If it is wrong to hit, it is wrong to hit children. However, if we have great memories of our parents even though they spanked us, our subjectivity will lead us to conclude spanking is acceptable because it was used in our childhood.

There are more extreme examples, such as sexual abuse leading to heightened promiscuity or poor diet in childhood creating overweight adults. We pursue what is familiar to us, and our subjectivity is influenced by what we experience as children.

Subjectivity is not all bad. I want to discuss the positives of subjectivity and the benefits it brings to the human condition.

The Dual Faces of Subjectivity: Challenges and Benefits

Subjectivity can cloud our judgment. However, creativity, empathy, emotions, personal growth, and other aspects of your life are defined by subjectivity. Individual perspective is the wellspring of our creativity and empathy, allowing us to think outside the box and innovate. It enriches our experiences with depth and color, making life a series of events and a tapestry of emotionally rich narratives.

Furthermore, some things cannot be judged objectively. What, for example, should you do with your life? Objectivity would dictate that you may be too old to play a sport professionally or not intelligent enough to be a rocket scientist. But with these reasonable constraints, you have to decide what matters more to you. The objective world will not decide for you.

After discussing subjectivity and its flaws and benefits, let’s turn to practical strategies for cultivating a more objective perspective.

Strategies for Cultivating Objectivity

“People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” – Blaise Pascal, De l’art de persuader

Developing objective thinking involves recognizing and managing our inherent subjectivity. We see reality through the lens of our childhood and what we have been cultured to believe. To stop outside these paradigms is to disengage from what is known and comfortable. Additionally, the more you seek objectivity, the more likely you are to bump up against the values of your society. The more you challenge those values, the quicker people will turn on you.

Therefore, you must first and foremost be patient with and kind to yourself. Anger and bitterness will not save you or reduce the pain and fear you feel. Your subjective lens and the cultural values you’ve been provided are not evil.

However, pursuing objectivity means you can exist beyond the limitations of your subjective views. If you are more objective, your emotions won’t easily sway you. A more objective worldview means the manipulations of the media or entertainment won’t move you. You can cut through the noise, nonsense, and rationality the world provides when it wants to undermine your virtuous pursuits.

With unfettered thinking, you earn better feedback processing, stress management, and empowered decision-making. These things are hard to do when clouded by subjective thoughts, ever-changing whims, negative emotions, and nonsensical cultural narratives.

We’ll start with the most obvious way to reestablish our connection to objective reality: physical challenge.

Embracing Physical Challenges for Objective Insights

Physical pain, suffering, and discomfort remove the delusions our minds and narratives make for us.

For example, the Soviet Union could constantly boast about record crop yields, but the average peasant knew differently. Why? Because he was starving. His physical suffering disproved the propaganda. His body connected him to the objective and undermined the effectiveness of the lies he was being told.

Our bodies exist in the physical world. We are mental, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and physical creatures. Out of all these qualifiers, our physical bodies are the most attuned and dependent on reality. This dependency makes it our most powerful ally when we drag our mental, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual characteristics into the real world.

Another example: Your exercising drags your mental and spiritual characteristics into the reality of physical growth. Do you really have a strong will that can withstand meaningful challenges? Can you calm your mind long enough to focus on the need to become stronger? Don’t prove it with biased or shallow thought experiments. Get to the gym and put yourself through the test.

With physical fitness discussed, let’s take the time to explore emotions and emotional control in our development of objectivity.

The Role of Emotional Detachment in Objective Thinking

stoic | man standing in field

Being stoic in the face of struggles serves you better than emotional irregularity.

Your emotions are a great ally but a dangerous enemy. The more we rely on our emotions to navigate life, the quicker our whims enslave us. Whim worship is the cornerstone of subjectivity and a great way to ruin your life.

If you’re angry and start yelling whenever you feel anger, how long will people want to spend time with you? If you sob uncontrollably at the first sign of struggle, how effectively will you control your life?

The best way to start controlling your emotions is to cut yourself from emotionally challenging people, activities, and things. Don’t consume as much news. Don’t spend time around deadbeat relatives who want to argue about nothing. Don’t talk to coworkers who love extended debates about things neither of you can change.

The less you pursue emotional highs from pointless struggles, the more in control you can be of your emotions. And the more you can control your feelings, the more objective and detached you can be, especially when you need a clear head.

Emotional control is crucial to seeing the world as it is. Let’s continue our discussion by examining how to assess your actions.

Self-Assessment and Awareness: Keys to Objective Understanding

People lie to themselves. They have to. Weak individuals spend their lives mired in vice and addictions. They know such addictions bring ruin and mayhem to their lives and the lives of others. Thus, they lie about their actions and the negative consequences of such actions.

You can’t do the same. You have to avoid the desire to lie to yourself. Participating in vice is foolish. When you do dumb things you shouldn’t be doing, you should feel shame.

Do not lie to yourself. Always have patience for yourself. But don’t tolerate delusions and deceit. If you are doing wrong, then fix it. If actions cause you to feel shame, then change your behavior. Keep track of your actions and list the consequences of such actions. Journal how certain actions make you feel and why you may feel the way you do. Never stop this deep and necessary self-analysis.

Our subjectivity comes from a desire to avoid what is true because that truth robs us of the comforts and prejudices we think we can’t live without. Therefore, cut to the heart of such a desire by being intentional with self-control.

Lastly, we will turn to community feedback as the best means of establishing objectivity through external forces.

The Value of External Perspectives and Community Feedback

This step is the hardest because it requires external help, which is not the easiest to foster. However, a community gives you a new perspective from other virtuous people. They can help check your excesses and ensure you are not going along with whatever makes you the most comfortable. This prevents subjectivity from dominating your perspective and ensures you consistently perform at your best.

A gym buddy can keep you committed to the gym. A trusted friend can help you sort through a conflict you are having. A spouse can give you advice on how to overcome a particular flaw. In each instance, another person reinforces the good deeds you wish to accomplish.

When we do things on our own, subjectivity can easily take hold. We can reason that everything we do is for our own good. However, that external pushback from a community can allow us to pause and reflect.

Debating with yourself ensures you will always win. But when you have to discuss things with others, a new perspective helps you make rational, informed decisions about your life.

Armed with these strategies for enhancing objectivity, we conclude the significance of balancing subjectivity and objectivity in our lives.

Conclusion: Embracing the Power of Objectivity

“Psychology has falsified love as surrender and altruism, while it is an appropriation or a bestowal following from a super-abundance of personality. Only the most complete persons can love. The depersonalized and objective are the worst lovers.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Balancing emotions and logic is key in navigating the reality of human existence that encompasses both subjective and objective perspectives. We can never perfectly perceive reality. Our cultural biases, trauma, and desires blind us to what is true.

Therefore, subjectivity is not some original sin you must feel terrible for. But as with other flaws you may have, you should seek to regulate what you’ve identified.

Objectivity grants us the ability to see things clearly. Because we can see things clearly, we can responsibly and readily fulfill our desires.

The strategies above help give you the objectivity you need to step back and see the world as it is. Use this power to help build the life you want to have. Such is the power of objectivity.

Actionables

  1. Reflect on how emotional intelligence influences decision-making, and consider the dichotomy between subjectivity and objectivity. Do you think there is much difference or that the difference is very pronounced? What do you think is the compromise between the two?
  2. Do you feel your emotions control you? How are you working to control them?
  3. In what areas in life do you believe your subjectivity is your ally? In what areas do you believe you should be more objective?
  4. Reflect on Your Own Subjectivity: For one week, at the end of each day, write down instances where your emotions significantly influenced your decisions. Reflect on these moments and consider how a more objective perspective might have altered the outcome.
  5. Developing Objective Observation Skills: Choose a news article or a social media post and try to identify subjective language or bias in it. Then, rewrite the content from a neutral, objective standpoint. This practice helps in recognizing and separating facts from opinions.
  6. Physical Challenge for Objectivity: Engage in a new physical activity or exercise routine for a month. Observe how this experience impacts your mental and emotional states. Document the changes you notice in your perception and decision-making process.
  7. Emotional Management through Mindfulness: Start a daily 10-minute mindfulness meditation focusing on observing your thoughts and emotions without judgment. This practice can help in developing emotional detachment and clarity in thinking.
  8. Honest Self-Assessment Journal: Keep a journal where you honestly assess your actions and their consequences. Use this journal to track patterns in your behavior, especially those that might be driven by subjective biases.
  9. Seeking Constructive Feedback: Ask a trusted friend, family member, or colleague for honest feedback on a recent decision or behavior. Discuss their perspective and compare it with your own to gain a more rounded view.
  10. Challenging Personal Beliefs: Identify one personal belief you hold strongly. Research and read arguments or viewpoints that oppose your belief. Reflect on this information and consider how it challenges or reinforces your perspective.
  11. Balancing Subjectivity and Objectivity in Daily Life: At the end of each week, reflect on situations where you balanced your subjective feelings with objective reasoning. Consider the outcomes and how this balance affected your decision-making.

Suggested Reading List

  1. “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman
    • Explores how our thought processes are divided into two systems: one fast, intuitive, and emotional; the other slower, more deliberative, and more logical. This book provides insight into how these systems shape our judgments and decisions.
  2. “The Art of Thinking Clearly” by Rolf Dobelli
    • This book offers a compendium of systematic errors in decision-making, explaining how to recognize and avoid common traps of subjective thinking.
  3. “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” by Malcolm Gladwell
    • Gladwell explores the power of quick, intuitive decision-making and its pitfalls, offering a balanced view of when to trust our instincts and when to be wary of them.
  4. “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” by Daniel Goleman
    • Goleman discusses the importance of emotional intelligence in our lives, a crucial aspect of understanding the interplay between emotions (subjectivity) and rational thinking (objectivity).

Please remember it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.

Refer to the linked articles and studies throughout this post for detailed evidence and case studies supporting these views.

*Image credit to Unsplash