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  • Writer's pictureKay Reeve

Critical Thinking begins at Mum's home.

Critical Thinking begins at home
Critical thinking begins at home

Critical Thinking: At home, school, or work, there are times when logic seems perfect, only to find your actions creating an emotional scenario of someone complaining or passing blame. Today I realised why both Critical Thinking and over-thinking have become an inherent part of my daily life.

I'm looking after my parents house for two weeks, feeding the dog and the wildlife, but something strange happened when I went to empty the recycling bin this morning and I was faced with over-thinking a cardboard tube.

I removed the lid and the holding ring, then took the bag out. There was a cardboard tube almost as tall as the bin, sitting between the bag and the bin. Why was it there instead of in the bag? I know my mum does quirky things as a means to resolving problems, and here I am trying to read her mind from 200 miles away as to why this tube is where it is. My thinking kicks in...

Is it just rubbish? Maybe it was just put there while the bag was out last time. What if I throw it away and it isn't rubbish? I may never hear the end of it for months. Why would it be in the bin if it isn't rubbish? My next thought was that with her disabilities, maybe she uses it to let air in the bin, so the bag comes out easier. With that thought I left it in place and tried not to over-think it, but my thoughts ended up here with a whole blog post instead.

It hit me just how much I learned from my parents while I also built up some emotional walls over the years as a result of avoiding the consequences. I realised that critical thinking helps me solve problems, but over-thinking can be good as well when used with critical thinking.

Critical thinking is a crucial skill that can be learned from young, while over-thinking may be a mixed blessing. Sometimes my overthinking solves problems, sometimes it creates problems such as building anxiety, harassing other people for answers, and taking incorrect actions on an impulse to try and resolve the emotional issues.

For many people they see 'thinking' beyond their instructions as dangerous. When raising an issues out of loyalty to their employer it goes like this: As well as having management in a panic about a long-standing issues, that staff member also get all the dirty glares and cold shoulders from other staff. Other staff may also feel like they are being blamed for missing something, then the one who raised the point is usually subjected to glares and cold shoulder treatment. When the atmosphere is now emotionally unsafe, the member of staff who raised the point, is usually first to be dismissed!

What does that tell other employees? - To shut up, and hide problems from management.

Just like the cardboard tube and me wondering if I will get the blame if I throw it out; How many staff skip tasks, or do incorrect tasks, not to be lazy but because they are trying to avoid a blame culture for some other reason, and think about the outcome rather than their own actions? How many staff step way outside protocol because they are over-thinking the 'solution' instead of using critical thinking about the process? Again afraid of not finishing the job due to blame, rather than raising an issue with the process.

I've only worked in two companies that didn't have that blame culture. One was a factory when I was 17, and the other was when I worked for an offshore wind farm in my 40's. These were both places that encouraged staff to raise issues, and deal with them productively - with gratitude. They encouraged ideas for improvement. Staff collaborated to solve problems within guidelines. I also learned just how many things can be fixed with sticky tape just to get production going again! As long as it wasn't a food contact surface of course.

When you're at home with family, is there a 'blame culture'?

Do you use and encourage critical thinking?

Do you resolve incorrect decisions with problem solving?

Or do you harp on about the inconvenience it's caused you?

If it turns out to be just rubbish, my solution is to face Mum's potential laughter at my thought process, with the option to bop her on the head with it, before throwing it out on her return.

Meanwhile I've realised today that Critical Thinking comes from solution seeking, while over-thinking comes from a blame culture. I'm actually glad I have the influence of both as my over-thinking usually triggers critical thinking.

This was ultimately the reason I was over-thinking my son's emotional issues. I was still looking for the blame (cause) such as food or environment. When I started looking at how to help my son resolve emotional dysregulation with critical thinking, I realised he is a 'visual learner' and so after 7 years of over-thinking and critical thinking combined, I created the book Brain Unchained - Emotional Awareness for Teenagers and Young Adults.

Critical Thinking generates confidence
Critical Thinking generates Confidence

If you're a manager or employer, remember that some people's actions in your workplace may be partly due to work culture, but may also be the result of how they learned to 'think' 'over-think' or use 'critical think' at home.

If you're a parent, work on this with your children or teenagers so they understand and value the importance of critical thinking, and learn to avoid the blame culture with good communication and solution seeking ideas that focus on 'everyone' being happy with the outcome.

Be patient and nurture a positive culture at home or work and they will become amazing people that you will be proud to know.


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