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Overcoming the Amygdala Part 80

A fundamental part of thinking properly is knowing what an ideal is for the thing being looked at or thought about. Only by projecting a correct ideal can a person detect correct departures.

A hairdresser knows what to do to make hair look good because they can project a correct ideal and detect wrongnesses accordingly; same with a dentist, a doctor, a driver, a dancer — anything, anyone. The principle is always the same, and is always ultimately quite simple: projecting a correct ideal reveals departures which can then be traced to a source and that can be adjusted to fix the scene overall.

That’s sane thinking.

Things go wrong, obviously.

One of the main factors that throws this off is that we subconsciously project false ideals onto our surroundings.

We project false ideals onto our partners and are disappointed in relationships; we project false ideals onto workplaces and are upset when things don’t pan out; we project false ideals onto our civic leaders and protest when they don’t live up to them; and, often cripplingly, we project false ideals onto ourselves and live in bitter self-deprecation and shame without quite knowing why. And so on.

We need to do two things:

1. Recognise that we are doing this, and

2. Take back control from our subconscious by actively working out correct ideals, projecting those, and then analysing and correcting what we find.

One of the things which we’ll learn shortly is how to do 2. But to fully understand 1., you probably need to know something else that most human beings do.

‘Filling In’ Departures

Here again are the five types of departure (repeating these again and again will help you to begin spotting them):

1. Things are missing that should be there (or present that shouldn’t be there).

2. Events are out of an expected sequence.

3. Something about Time has changed — either there is too much of it, or too little, or none.

4. An apparent untruth has been added — something which seems out of place when other facts are known.

5. Significance has been exaggerated or reduced in some way.

But instead of seeing these for what they are, most people attempt to ‘cover them up’ using cognitive distortions. These are attempts to calm your amygdala and ‘fudge’ your way through what are actually genuine emergencies or situations which need addressing.

For example:

1. You find your credit card is missing from the place where you always keep it. Too afraid to confront the idea that it might have been stolen, you ‘dub in’ that you have placed it in another pocket.

2. Your slides appear out of expected sequence in a work presentation. You blame an assistant rather than taking responsibility yourself, because you are afraid of the loss of face involved in doing the latter.

3. You have too little time to get somewhere because you missed an alarm. Instead of recognising that and compensating accordingly, you scream and shout at traffic on your way to your appointment, transferring blame to strangers for you being late.

4. Someone tells you something which you know to be a lie about a friend. Rather than standing up for your friend, you snigger and agree with the lie temporarily, frightened of losing the friendship of the teller.

5. You miss out on your child’s graduation ceremony. You tell yourself that it wasn’t important anyway.

People do this kind of thing all the time, very easily. Why? Because acknowledging that there has been a departure — that an ideal has been departed from in some way — is not pleasant. To ease the discomfort, people try to blur things, to transfer blame, to make up facts, to ‘bridge the gaps’. It makes them feel slightly better for a while. But it’s clearly stacking up trouble for the future, because their surroundings are increasingly not going to match their ideals. They will be embroiled in all kinds of self-deceptions, half-lies, excuses and little betrayals before a week has passed.

The effect on the amygdala of backlogged untruths like this should be clear: it will ring alarms based on departures whether or not you acknowledge the departures, and the more you try and hide them, the louder it will ring.

Proper Observation

To escape this very human trap and learn to think properly, then, you need i) channels of perception, either remote or direct, which are not choked or overloaded but which enable you to look, feel, hear and experience relevant data

ii) a correct ideal which fits the subject, person or thing

iii) enough familiarity with the subject, person or thing so that you can tell what’s actually going on — i.e. knowing when all is OK and no departures are present and knowing when one or more of the five types of departure appears

iv) an ability to analyse departures so as to be able to spot where they are coming from

v) an ability to directly inspect the source of the departures

vi) the imagination and knowledge needed to sort out what you find.

All great thinkers and leaders do the above.

Interestingly, all wise characters in stories also follow the above.

Learn how to do these steps yourself and you will be considered almost superhuman.

Stay tuned.


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