AnneMarie Rivera
Barriers to Critical Thinking
February 21, 2015

Barriers to Critical Thinking

Initially, it was difficult to identify any barriers that I felt influenced my thinking. Lack of knowledge of those barriers was a factor, but I also think it was because it required me to analyze my thinking, and openly admit to flaws in order to be able to identify them. Doing so has been a bit of a liberating experience, and I was able to personally identify with three barriers that have influenced my thinking and decision making in the past. I\'ve also been able to think of ways to overcome those hindrances, and have put them to practice.

The first barrier I am able to relate with is enculturation. Many of the values and morals I have were instilled in me through my family and friends, and even in the area I grew up in. My parents are two old school, strongly opinionated people. What they say goes, and there is hardly room for debate when it comes to what they know, and I happened to pick up that trait myself. As I got older and met people of different walks of life, I was put in situations where I had to provide advice or help for things that I just did not agree with. They didn\'t sit well morally, and I personally wouldn\'t put myself in those types of situations. However, thankfully, I learned early on that not everyone thinks the same, or handles issues the same. Enculturation is inevitable, and it is important to respect not just your own views and preferences, but that of others. Allowing yourself to accept that, and keep that very important point in mind when making decisions that would otherwise restrict our thought processes, will assist in providing clearly made and thought out decisions.

Another barrier I can connect with is the emotional influence. Anger and passion have been the two strongest inhibitors when it comes to thinking, and has proved to produce less than favorable outcomes. When upset or angry, it\'s easy to forget things and think illogically. I say things and make decisions without thinking, and without considering how it would affect not just me, but those involved. The same goes for passion; the fact that I love something or someone so much inhibits any logical reasoning, and therefore encourages more irrational and quick decisions. Stress does the complete opposite, and although it does hinder any thinking, I don\'t even bother to make any attempts at all. In cases where my emotions are running high, I\'ve learned to walk away or sit and take a few breaths before anything else happens. When you take the time to allow your emotions to calm, you give yourself the opportunity to give 100% in your thinking. Not every situation is the same, but anything from a walk, to exercise, or even working on something different and coming back to the original task when you\'re ready helps overcome the emotional influence barrier.

The third barrier I struggle with is self-concept. In a way, enculturation plays a part in this as at one point, what I thought of myself was largely influenced by my family and friends. There are times where I\'ve thought negatively about myself, whether it be due to a failure of some sort, my grades, looks, a decision that didn\'t end well, anything like that. Those hurdles influenced a slew of decisions that were brought upon from thinking unreasonably, if at all. On the opposite end, there have been times where my self-confidence was at an all-time high. Although that sounds great, that also caused another set of poorly made decisions. The one thing that I learned to help cope with this was acceptance. I\'ve learned to accept my flaws, things that I cannot control, and most importantly, my strengths. Acceptance has helped me keep my personal biases or opinions at bay when thinking critically, and provide well thought out responses.

I cannot say that I\'ve mastered the art of critical thinking, or that I have perfected the ways to overcome obstacles brought on by the barriers I\'ve discussed. Nonetheless, I know that identifying with them is a good start to working on improving my critical thinking skills. It will