I know that we’re all capable of lapses in judgment. But for others, this seems more prolific.
I like to think of myself as a fairly smart person. Certainly academically I’ve always done well. But when it comes to common sense, I’ve often been woefully lacking.
So what are the reasons you lack common sense? And is there anything you can do about it?
Let’s dive in.
What does it mean when someone has no common sense?
Common sense isn’t a concretely defined thing. But generally, it means having good sense and sound judgment in practical matters.
It means taking decisions that the majority of people think make the most sense. It’s an instinct to get to the simple solution as quickly as possible.
Being able to draw upon the so-called “obvious” conclusion. It’s knowing what to do in order to best perform a task.
So lacking in common sense means you are usually seen as having poorer judgment by others.
Or at the very least, we don’t quickly jump to the same apparent conclusions that someone else would.
And other people don’t understand why we can’t see the “crystal clear” answer that they feel is staring them straight in the face.
Why do I lack common sense? 10 reasons
1) You haven’t learned it
Common sense is not something you pop out of the womb having. It’s something you learn.
And while some people have a natural ability to pick up on things quicker than others, it takes practice and time to develop.
We observe others, we grasp how they do things, and we learn the same skills.
Not everybody has been taught common sense.
I’ve often wondered if my own apparent lack of common sense has been exasperated by living within the “ask Google” culture.
Rather than learn things, it’s actually quick and easy to become reliant upon asking a search engine.
If you worry that you are somehow the odd one out for your lack of common sense, then just take a look at some things people ask online for reassurance.
Someone of my personal faves are:
“Is an egg a fruit or a vegetable?” “Are skeletons real or made up?” and “My girlfriend is pregnant but we didn’t have sex, how could this have happened?”
The good news is that if you, like me, feel naturally lacking in common sense, that doesn’t mean we are doomed to make so-called “daft” mistakes forever.
If we want to improve our judgment we can learn common sense. Later in the article I’ll run through some ways how.
2) You haven’t had enough experience
Experience is key to developing common sense.
You’ll never acquire common sense until you’ve experienced life. You need to be exposed to situations where you must make decisions.
This could be through work or school or just general day-to-day life.
You know when you are doing a quiz or maybe watching one on TV? Well it’s only “easy” when you know the right answer.
In the same way, it is the experience that gives us answers in life and helps us to develop common sense.
The “logical answer” might only seem logical to one person because they have had enough experience to know this.
To someone else, it can seem very far from obvious.
3) Intelligence is expressed differently
Throughout my life, I’ve felt really embarrassed whenever I feel like I’ve said something stupid.
Maybe you can relate? There is often a shaming that takes place when you don’t have much common sense.
But it’s not very fair. We are all different and intelligence is expressed in very different ways.
I wouldn’t dream of turning to a friend who got a lower mark on a paper in school and mocking their inferior brain power.
So why would we do this to someone whose brain works slightly differently in other ways?
Lacking common sense does not mean you are “dumb”. In fact, plenty of highly intelligent people can lack it.
The truth is that we’re all wired differently. We all excel in different areas of life — some academically, some practically, some physically, some creatively, etc.
Society thrives on this diversity and difference. Common sense is just one form of intelligence that can be expressed.
4) You’re thinking too logically
Far from meaning you are stupid, as I just mentioned, very clever people can struggle with common sense.
That’s because common sense incorporates lots of combined factors.
Sometimes logic isn’t always the best solution. For example, when it comes to a situation that requires us to use our heart instead of our head.
When it comes to a lot of common sense around human relationships and social interactions, logical thinking isn’t necessarily the best approach.
It requires a different tool for the job.
For some people who think very logically, they can end up reaching a conclusion that doesn’t quite work on a social level.
Their common sense then seem unfeeling or even robotic.
5) You’re not considering all the outcomes and options
I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I end up lacking common sense in a situation it’s when I haven’t necessarily thought things through properly.
The words escape from my mouth. And I can even realize, just as I’ve said it, that it is a foolish idea or response.
I think what is going on is that I am too quickly jumping to this conclusion or answer.
Rather than consider fully the outcome and options, my brain stops on the first one it finds.
We lack common sense because we’re not as efficient at getting quickly from A to B.
But maybe that is because we just stop at A and aren’t thinking as far as B, C, or even D as potential options.
6) You get stuck in short-term thinking
Similar to the point above, as well as not considering the breadth of options, we might not be considering the depth of the option either.
Maybe you lack common sense when you get caught thinking about the here and now, and neglect to think any further.
But what feels like the best option or suggestion for the short term, might not make any sense for the long term.
You might not be able to see how your actions will affect yourself or others down the road.
Or you may not be able to foresee consequences that could arise if you take a certain action.
7) You’re overthinking
Just as not thinking things through before reaching a conclusion can negatively impact on your common sense, so too can overthinking things.
The point of common sense is that it is supposed to be the obvious and most common solution.
Sometimes if you read too much into things you can end up going around in circles and miss the point in the process.
Perhaps you become too focused on details, or you are looking for the most clever and complex solution. When all the time the less complicated fix is hiding in plain sight.
This is another area where being overly analytical can lead to missing out on the big picture.
If you focus too much on the minutiae of something, then you won’t have enough perspective to see the bigger picture.
8) You’re not taking advantage of opportunities
As with many other areas of life, there are times when we need to exercise our common sense more.
One way to do this is by making sure we are always open to new experiences.
When we are open to new experiences, we are also open to learning new skills and ideas. And these can help us develop our common sense further.
Unfortunately what can happen to those of us who feel lacking in common sense is that we feel shyer about putting ourselves out there.
We don’t want to face the ridicule of others.
We may start to question our competence and be plagued with self-doubt. But this stops us from learning and growing. So rather than develop better common sense, we stay stuck.
9) We’re better at giving advice than following it
Some people might be good at recognizing common sense, but not quite as good at following it themselves.
This can be the case when seemingly street-smart people make some foolish decisions that they would never recommend to other people.
For example, someone might know that it’s dangerous to drink alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car but still choose to ignore their own advice.
Or perhaps they know that it’s a great idea to eat healthy food, but they fail to follow it themselves.
It’s easy to give advice, but sometimes we just aren’t very good at following it ourselves.
10) You’re not in touch with your intuition
As we’ve seen, common sense isn’t an exact science. It’s based on experience, instinct and intuition.
That can be one of the reasons why people find it such a hard thing to explain. Other people may experience it as more of a “knowing”.
Our instincts can often be right, even though we may not understand them fully.
So while we can learn to trust our intuition, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what it means.
If you find that you constantly second guess yourself then maybe you are closing yourself off to your intuitive knowledge.
Far from being something mystical, intuition is your unconscious brain working behind the scenes. It has access to a well of information and experiences that your conscious mind isn’t always aware of.
That is why it can quickly analyze and deliver up to you common sense seemingly out of nowhere without having to think about it.
How do you deal with lack of common sense?
Try to recognize the situations where you lack common sense
The first step for me is to ask myself if I have any doubts or reservations about how I am acting.
If I have any doubts, I stop and reevaluate my actions. If I’m unsure whether I should act a certain way, I’ll take time to consider my options.
Really considering my options means that I’m not putting pressure on myself to quickly jump to an answer.
Given a bit of time, I can often see the error of my own ways. It’s usually when I speak before thinking that a lack of common sense pours out.
Think more about the consequences
Along with taking the time to really exhaust and brainstorm all the options, I try to ask myself:
‘What are the long-term implications?’
That way I’m encouraging myself to apply common sense to not just the present moment, but make sure it works for the future too.
My parents thought it went against all common sense when I cashed in my pension to buy a designer handbag at the age of 25. To me it didn’t sound like a bad plan.
I can understand now how it wasn’t when I’m looking only in the short-term, but it does have further-reaching consequences down the line.
Let yourself learn
Learning and growing is an important part of gaining the experience you need for common sense.
That can take time, patience and a willingness to try and fail. But it also takes a lot of practice, so we shouldn’t expect instant results.
I think it’s important to not be afraid to make decisions, even when you worry you might “get it wrong”. Because the more you do, the more you learn.
Don’t let your perceived lack of common sense hold you back or make you indecisive.
Reflect on your choices
I really think self-awareness improves all forms of intelligence, including common sense.
Luckily hindsight can be a powerful tool.
We may get things wrong, but we can still use all our experiences to better understand ourselves and how we might do things differently next time around.
Screw what people think
I’ve wasted way too much time worrying about how others might perceive me.
I want to develop my common sense for me and nobody else. I learned a long time ago that being overly concerned with other people’s opinions and judgments will only hold me back.
I mentioned how important your own intuition is to common sense. Well caring less what others think and focusing on myself has really helped me.
Common sense is different for everyone. And you don’t have to fit neatly into a mold. It’s ok to be different.
The truth is, most of us never realize how much power and potential lies within us.
We become bogged down by worrying about what others think of us, continuous conditioning from society, the media, our education system and more.
The reality we create becomes detached from the reality that lives within our consciousness.
I learned this (and much more) from the world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandé. In this excellent free video, Rudá explains how you can lift the mental chains and get back to the core of your being.
So if you’re ready to take this first step and become more in touch with yourself, your intuition and your own unique gifts, there’s no better place to start than with Rudá’s unique technique.