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Chapter 5. The First Four Stages of Deve... > Stage Three: The Beginning Thinker—A...

Stage Three: The Beginning Thinker—Are You Willing to Begin?

When a person actively decides to take up the challenge to grow and develop as a thinker, that person enters the stage we call “beginning thinker.” This is the stage of thinking in which one begins to take thinking seriously. This is a preparatory stage before one gains explicit command of thinking. It is a stage of dawning realizations. It is a stage of developing willpower. It is not a stage of self-condemnation but, rather, of emerging consciousness. It is analogous to the stage in which an alcoholic person recognizes and fully accepts the fact that he or she is an alcoholic. Imagine an alcoholic saying, “I am an alcoholic, and only I can do something about it.” Now imagine yourself saying, “I am a weak, undisciplined thinker, and only I can do something about it.”

Once people recognize that they are “addicted” to poor thinking, they must begin to recognize the depth and nature of the problem. As beginning thinkers, we should recognize that our thinking is sometimes egocentric. For example, we may notice how little we consider the needs of others and how much we focus on getting what we personally want. We may notice how little we enter the point of view of others and how much we assume the “correctness” of our own. We may even sometimes catch ourselves trying to dominate others to get what we want, or alternatively, acting out the role of submitting to others (for the gains that submissive behavior brings). We may begin to notice the extent to which we are conformists in our thinking.


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