Posts Tagged ‘metacognition’

Sanity Hacks

April 28, 2018

Listen to Your Fixations

Actively listening to the words you tell yourself inside your head is called metacognition. It’s the first step in stilling your mind and figuring out who you really are. This can be very frightening and very painful, but it’s worth it.

It’s a lot more fun to think about other people’s problems than it is to think about our own. That’s why we do it all the time. But fixating on other people’s lives is a colossal waste of time and effort.

What’s going on inside our heads when we fixate on people? Usually, it’s one of these three things:

1) Jealousy
2) Something about their life or their behavior makes you feel insecure
3) They’re exhibiting some trait that you recognize in yourself and that makes you uncomfortable.

Listening to your fixations and looking inward for their causes can teach you more about yourself than you ever wanted to know. But it’s worth if you want to live your own life.

Don’t Expect Life to be Fair

We are complex social organisms and our intense preoccupation with fairness is an essential aspect of our biological makeup. This trait is even observable in other social organisms.

But life isn’t fair. And you can drive yourself crazy fixating on how everybody else deserves to be punished for not being as righteous as you are. But it’s a colossal waste of time and effort and it won’t get you anywhere.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be held accountable for the things we do. We need to have rules and laws and courts and judges for society to function. And we need to be vigilant in our efforts to make these institutions function as fairly as humanly possible.

But don’t fritter away your precious time on Earth fixating on the great unfairness of it all. That will only make you miserable.

Live Your Own Life

When I hear myself thinking about what other people should or shouldn’t be doing, I try to quell my overactive mind by repeating this mantra:

Mind my own business. Live my own life.

This happens several times a day. Unfortunately, fixating on what other people are doing and assessing the rightness or wrongness of their behavior is a natural part of being human. But so are jealousy and hatred. That doesn’t mean they’re good for us.

We can’t prevent ourselves from wanting to regulate other people’s lives, but we can monitor our thinking and try to focus on our own behavior as much as possible.

Don’t Let Resentment Rule Your Life

Some clichés are really helpful and this bit of folk wisdom is invaluable:

Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

Even if you have a legitimate gripe with the person you resent, your resentment is your own issue. Unless magic and voodoo dolls actually work, there’s no way your resentment is going to change the world. It’s just going to make your spirit ill.

Work to make the world a better place and spread as much love as you can. You can also go to yoga class and try to breathe your resentment away. It helps.

by Richard W. Bray

Listening to Yourself

January 14, 2018

Metacognition

Metacognition means thinking about thinking. You can do this by listening to the words you say aloud, and more importantly, by listening to the words you silently tell yourself. That’s where the real action is — inside your head.

Self-awareness begins by examining the words and phrases your mind creates and then asking yourself if it would make sense for someone in your position to say such a thing.

Phrases to Watch Out For

Any sentence that begins with the words “I don’t care” is probably a lie you’re telling yourself to protect your feelings. Here are some examples of the types of ego-preserving lies we tell ourselves and one another all the time:

I don’t care that dad abandoned us when I was four.”

“I don’t care who she’s going out with.”

“I really don’t care if he ever loved me or not.”

Here’s another example: Whenever you hear yourself say, “He’s just_______,” “She’s just_________,” or “It’s just________,” it’s probably because someone or something has hurt you and made you feel bad about yourself. And now you want to diminish someone or something to make the hurt go away. It never works, but our brains are designed to do it anyway.

For example: Let’s say that Walter is bragging to the guys about his hot date with Gladys. Poor Alex secretly adores Gladys, but he never quite got up the nerve to ask her out. Now his brain is cascaded with defensive outrage and denial:

“Walter is just a stupid, arrogant, spoiled asshole.”

“She doesn’t really like him. She’s just going out with him because he’s tall, good-looking, and his parents are rich.”

“She’s just a dumb little bitch for going out with that guy”

We Think by Feeling

We often talk about thoughts and feelings as though they were in competition with one another. “Don’t let your feelings get in the way of your decision,” is a common refrain. But there is no such battle occurring in our souls between thinking and feeling. Thoughts and feelings are inseparable. Thoughts don’t exist in opposition to feelings — thoughts are better understood as the residue of feelings. “We think by feeling,” is how the great American poet Theodore Roethke put it. This observation has been confirmed by a whole body of modern brain research.

Scottish philosopher David Hume figured this all out over two hundred years ago without the benefit modern fMRI machines that tell us which parts of the brain are involved in the decision-making process. Hume was one seriously smart and reflective dude.

The Unexamined Life

Socrates said that the unexamined life isn’t worth living, but it’s also been noted that ignorance is bliss. So what should you do? Who knows? Metacognition is both painful and enlightening. The question is: Can you handle the truth?

By Richard W. Bray

 

Metacognition

December 9, 2017

Cut off on the highway
I ruminate for days
Some guy I’ll never see again
Has got to change his ways

Just met Dave’s new girlfriend
She’s intelligent and hot
Dave is such an asshole
I deserve the things he’s got

I talked to my fixations
I looked inside my head
My fixations we’re awakened
This is what they said:

I’m petty and I’m jealous
I’m greedy and I’m mean
My heart is filled with vengeance
I’m a normal human being

by Richard W. Bray