Question Your Thoughts When actions don't correspond with beliefs
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Personal deceptions are disquieting only when we accept their existence. It’s frightening to consider that unconsciously mental adjustments alter perceptions. Until we recognize personal susceptibility to this unsettling mind glitch, we can’t escape the illusions. We are vulnerable to error. The world we perceive may only faintly resemble reality.
Avoiding repeated disappointments, injuries, and sorrows while repeating successes, joys and pleasures is the hallmark of wisdom. The hardware of the mind extracts information from experience creating networks associating rewards and causes. Phantom causes creep into these interpretations; events, people, or groupings get tied into networks of cause and effect. The phantoms bias future interpretations. These implicit biases operate beneath consciousness, distorting reality to smoothly fit belief systems. The invisible operation of a bias magnifies their strength.
Extrapolating information from experience is a survival mechanism, providing evolutionary advantage in a highly competitive environment. The mental shortcuts—heuristics—provide pre-determined road maps for quick processing, saving energy and time. We constantly scan the environment searching for familiarity, using the information to direct choice. The masses of information transmitted to the mind from the senses would overwhelm without previous experience to provide order and meaning. We disregard much of the new information, once we adopt a meaning. The assigned meaning directs the proper response. The connecting of current and past experience allows for quick action. This learning process is the foundation of wisdom. The problem arises when associations from the present to elements of the past are not necessarily connected. Hurtful prejudices, stereo types and assumptions impinge on fairness and obscure the true causes.
Beliefs—based on truth or not—dictate perceptions of present experience, the faulty perception supporting the erroneously contrived meaning. Until we loosen our grasp on beliefs, we won’t recognize the distorting effect the beliefs have on the present. By willingness to recognizing potential errors, we position ourselves to detect delusions that mar our futures. Immediate reactions often are essential; but when time is available, we must invite higher order thinking, examining a little deeper, challenging biases, and considering alternate explanations.