Reject Versus Discard

How do you feel about your trash when you remove it from your house? Would you say you discard it, or reject it? Clearly you discard it. Rejecting your trash sounds a little too emphatic!

What about beliefs/values/attitudes/sensibilities/mindsets? For the ones that don’t line up with your values, do you discard them? Or reject them?

It is possible to reject something without discarding it.

Rejecting a belief means there is an emotional attachment to it which becomes a hindrance to truly discarding it. The emotion has it persist within you.

One place I have seen this play out is in feminism. In my early twenties I called myself a feminist. The Feminist in me rejected the notion of domination of women by men. However, in my rejection of domination, I ended up being a submissive man, and judgmental of men I considered inadequately submissive, which is just domination reversed. Ironically too, I had a problem with women who didn’t have a problem with those guys.

I saw this in feminist acquaintances too. When I was in college, I was walking with an acquaintance to class one day. As she and I approached the building, I— being in front of her— opened the door for her. She pushed me through the doorway first, saying, “I’m taking a women’s history class and I won’t let any man open a door for me”. Domination reversed. Taking on the other side of the coin means the coin is still there.

I happened to be opening the door because I was in front and I would expect anyone else to do the same for me, regardless of their gender. In her rejection of what she perceived as my domination of her, she dominated me by pushing me through. Then I was 18. Now I’m in my forties, and I wouldn’t expect a forty year old feminist to be so blatant— with age either we resolve our issues or we become better at masking them; we become better bullshitters.

My stance vs. other people became guarded: either you were with me or against me on this topic, there was little middle ground. I surrounded myself with like-thinkers. Really I was surrounding myself with people who would not challenge my emotional attachment to the matter.

Another area I see this is pseudo-skepticism. In a pseudo-skeptic’s protestation of unfounded acceptance of a notion, they exhibit the reverse: unfounded rejection of the notion.1 Think Richard Dawkins, James Randy.

Rejection fails to eliminate the thing being rejected, it sticks to you like glue. Notice when you have an emotional attachment to the thing you wish to eliminate from your life. Truly eliminating the thing means giving attention to the emotional attachment in a way that has you move beyond it.

Citations

  1. Pseudoscience, Pseudo-skepticism and Rejection Bias []
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