COM’ON BRAIN –
don’t fail me now!
PREVIOUS: CDs & The Brain (Part 2) How it take in & catalogs info, #1-4
OUR BRAIN – Gathering Information
5. ALL ALIKE: The brain assumes all similar items are the same (all white people look alike to me! / all rock music sounds the same – like noise! / all men are hounds!….)
• This originally had survival value so humans could respond instantly to a food source or a dangerous animal, without ‘evaluating’ differences. We still need this automatic grouping today, not only to save time but for things like ease of communication. It allows us to understand different things that have a common meaning – like a variety of written ‘scribbles’ or verbal accents which all represent the same word or idea
• On the other hand it can lead to serious errors:
— We often assume that all members of a particular group are alike
✓ If your mother was a nasty crazy lady, you’ll grow up believing that – behind a variety of ‘disguises’ – all women are nasty & crazy
— It can make it hard to notice subtle differences or gradual changes in others
✓ if you’re in Recovery – most people who’ve known you a long time will keep treating you based on how you used to act, just as some parents will keep treating a grown son like a little boy
— It also effects the way we react to things in our environment, ie. our behavior
✓ Treating all snakes, body aches or drugs – as if they were the same – can be painful or fatal
✶ SO – one measure of intelligence is how well one can distinguish subtle variations among very similar people, things or situations.
6. BROAD TOPICS:
• Narrow slices of life will eliminate only certain new items when contradictory, like dating: women who have a controlling parent will more likely believe ‘The Rules’ book, so being told that it’s not emotionally healthy to manipulate men is dismissed out-of-hand, although they might accept suggestions in opposition to the book if it comes from a trusted ally.
• BUT the broader the topic, the more all forms of contradictory info are rejected as false. Just the act of accumulating repeated experiences will seem to confirm our original belief, right or wrong. That’s why people who are ‘trained’ in childhood to be winners tend to continue winning – or vice versa. So:
✓ If we’re taught that our country, our religion, our ethnic community…. is the best, the only one to trust, is infallible… then any info that disagrees with that is easily ignored or overlooked, or makes us angry!
✓ Cult members are brainwashed to believe everything they’re taught is the ultimate unquestionable truth & that the leader is ‘god’. Whatever disagrees with that is rejected & explained away, to their mental & physical detriment, even when given strong proof to the contrary. For instance, when end-of-the-world dates come & go without incident, members are told the ‘powers that be’ have changed the timing, & those who stay in the group will believe that without question.
✓ So too, if we have a bone-deep conviction that we’re worthless & unlovable (S-H), any compliment or acknowledgment is automatically rejected as b.s., even if it was said sincerely & is actually true about us!
7. INCOMPLETE: The brain can not tell if it has complete info about a topic, so even when we suspect it – it can’t tell us what is missing
✓ Years ago this happened to me several times, like with a salesman or in a classroom setting: I knew I was missing a crucial, pivotal piece of info to be able to understand what I wanted to buy or what I was supposed to be learning, but I didn’t know what to ask for! All I could do was ask haltingly, clumsily (sounding like an idiot!) & they’d tell me a bunch of stuff I did know. But if I kept on bugging them, eventually they’d spit out the missing piece. Yeah! I was happy, but by then they were very annoyed with me! LOL . And then they’d say “Well, I thought you knew that!” because it was so basic they just assumed I should already know it! Wrong.
CAUSE of perpetuating incomplete info:
— Mental laziness: not making a regular effort to get enough info on topics that have an impact on our lives & well-being
— OR fear of asking, of having to take care of oneself, of no one wanting to help, of getting it wrong, of not being able to do what’s required…
• Either way, people compensate by simply assuming they know things but often are missing relevant or even basic knowledge. Since we don’t know we’re making an assumption, lack of sufficient or accurate info can be a real road block in achieving our goals
➼ IRONY: Since the only criterion the brain has for identifying good or bad info is IF it is compatible with what’s already stored, based on first impressions, then • if we already have accurate info, the brain protects us from accepting anything new that is incorrect, BUT
• any bad info we started out with will prevent us from believing new correct info.
✶ That’s why we’re told that FIRST IMPRESSIONS are so important.
NEXT: CDs & the brain (Part 4)