Put Your First Impression to the Test

“First off, don’t let the force of the impression carry you away. Say to it, ‘hold up a bit and let me see who you are and where you are from — let me put you to the test’…”


Your first impression is not automatically wrong. There is value in ‘trusting your gut’, and your initial reaction usually has merit. But the last thing you need is to jump to conclusions and draw a hasty judgment or make a wrong move. You need to take your time here.

The author of The Daily Stoic brings out a Russian proverb to illustrate this point: “Trust, but verify.” I like that concept. Your mind is powerful, and its perceptions and judgments are built on a lifetime of experience and knowledge (yours), so you should generally trust it. But it’s not infallible. It could make a mistake, and you need to at least take a moment to consider that option before rushing into anything. You have to put your first impression to the test.

First cut out all the extra noise, and examine the source of your thoughts. Ask yourself why you feel the way you do, and what is causing your immediate reaction. Question the extent of your knowledge, challenge yourself and your expertise in this particular area. Acknowledge whether runaway emotion is playing a part.

Assess your reasoning by comparing it to that of your neighbor, and your greater community. Does it hold up to logical scrutiny? Does your first impression pass the test? Or does it need a bit more time to mellow, and for more information to come in? Only you will know the answer to this question, but by “holding up for a bit” you’ll avoid making an error out of haste.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Follow and get Billy's daily meditation:

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x