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Bias? Of course!

November 13, 2019

We all grow up in a bubble of sorts. The bubble may be that of our family, our community, our faith, our school, the time we live in, etc.

We take that experience and believe it to be a shared experience, meaning that others likely have the same view of the world. We really aren’t aware of all the other bubbles just like fish don’t know they are in water.

For instance, I am Jewish and grew up in the Jewish part of Toronto. As per the experience of my bubble, I thought the whole world was Jewish. Makes sense given where I grew up.

Part of the outcome of the bubbles we grow up in is bias. We figure that if that is how the majority of folks see things and do things, that must be the way to do it. Anything else just isn’t “kosher”.

Indeed, I had that experience from my earliest training in behavior therapy. I thought because that was how it was done in the entire unit where I worked, it was the be all,end all.

When I was introduced to another style of therapy, I diminished it, thought it was inferior to the behavioral therapy I had spent so much time learning and was reinforced by all my peers in the unit.

It wasn’t until I was exposed to the greater world beyond my bubbles did I realize the whole world wasn’t Jewish and that there were many forms of therapy where each had a function.

And so there are bubbles; family, ethnicity, faith, community, city, province, country. Even time is a bubble. It could be a generation, multiple generations or a millennium.

From all those bubbles we have biases. Some refer to them as unconscious bias in that we don’t even realize it, again like the fish not recognizing water.

It is only when we truly meet and get to know folks from other bubbles can we come to learn of our differences and similarities.

The only requirement to learn is an openness to do so, to suspend the beliefs coming from one’s own bubble.

With that we learn about the subtleties of racism, of privilege, of power and control. We learn to unlearn the long held views coming from our particular bubbles and to appreciate and integrate the views and lived experiences of others.

This tends to be most difficult, the bigger the bubble you came from. The more folks in your bubble sharing your point of view, the greater the likelihood to believe it to be the either best, more accurate or truest way of seeing things. Sheer number create a sense of greater wisdom and truth.

Sorry to burst your bubble though. That just isn’t necessarily so. That is bias.

Want to learn more about your own bias, step out of your bubble, your comfort or convenience zone. Speak to those of other cultures, of other lived experience. I am forever amazed at my own biases when I come to see them reflected back by others. Learning of the experience of others, we also learn about ourselves.

Openness is the only requirement. That is the antidote to bias.

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I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW for counseling and support – to build your successful practice


Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

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