Brain Changer: How Harnessing Your Brain's Power to Adapt Can Change Your Life

Psalehesost

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
This is another book by David DiSalvo (who wrote What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite, discussed here). Brain Changer is about how we can change our brains and in turn our lives, mainly by using metacognition to affect the feedback loops that drive us; over the longer term, neuroplasticity makes for a lasting change. (He also makes some other basic points relating to how lifestyle affects cognitive abilities and brain health, as well as mentions some "tricks" that can boost cognitive performance.)

In a nutshell, I'd say this book approaches some of the basic aspects of The Work through modern cognitive-, behavioral- and neuroscience. For those who've read a lot of other related material, it won't contain much that is wholly new; still, I found it well-worth a read. Somewhat like DiSalvo's older book, this one brings up a lot of things, each treated concisely - but it is also more structured, and the points made feel less scattered, are more clearly part of a whole. Much of the value, for me at least, is in how it brings together and relates a lot of things; and it does so in a simple, down-to-Earth way.

The overall subject is different than that of the older book, and they can be read independently. It is divided into three parts: "Know" (basic concepts, theory and background); "Do" ("30 tools to enhance thinking and catalyze action"); and "Expand" (recommendations in three parts for, respectively, further nonfiction reading, fiction and memoirs, and movies).

As may be expected from his other book, DiSalvo writes from a materialistic, neo-Darwinian point of view. So some filling in of things learned elsewhere, for a richer understanding, will be needed.

Anyway, in short, I found the book interesting and somewhat useful.
 

Psalehesost

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I'll give some examples of the "tools" in the second part. The first I cover almost as extensively as the book, the rest I summarize to varying degrees.


The first is pretty familiar and is called the "awareness wedge". Basically, a mental "stop exercise". It can be brief, or "tactical", or longer and more "contemplative". The point is to stop going along with our present impulses, and become aware of what we're doing or about to do, and think about it before we choose how to proceed.
However it's described, the awareness wedge is routinely underused. Put into wider practice, it could both prevent actions that cause negative outcomes and encourage actions that promote positive outcomes.
If we're in the midst of action or interaction, we can take a moment to think before we choose how to proceed.
For example, if you find yourself in a contentious discussion ... and feel the tension escalating as you both try to make your points, and immediate, tactical pause can give you the small amount of time you need to consider whether your next statement is going to contribute constructively or just add propane to the fire.
If we're considering a major, possibly life-changing decision, a longer, directed effort is called for.
We usually think we already do this before big decisions, because they consume so much of our mental energy, but there is a significant difference between a flood of mental energy and a directed, deliberate focusing of energy on a specific decision. Simply spending a lot of time thinking about something is no guarantee that all of our anguished processing will result in the best outcome. Using the awareness wedge instead demands that we stop the thinking flood, reconsider how we are thinking about a given situation, and redirect our mental energy. This may result, for instance, in breaking the decision into smaller parts and directing our thinking to address each part, working towards the whole. Or it could mean that we reconsider our basic motivations for pursuing an outcome we've been taking for granted is the right one.
In both kinds of situations, it takes practice, "especially if we find it difficult to question our motivations. A stout dose of humility is required to stop and reassess whether "winning" an argument is the best outcome. Also needed is a willingness to face adversity (along with fear and anxiety) by stopping and questioning our reasons for making a major decision. Doing so, however, could make all the difference in the short and long term."


The second tool is the "Golden Rule of Habit Change". Basically, "to change a habit, you must focus on the routine, not the cue [that triggers it] or reward [you get from it]." If you're triggered by stress, the causes of the stress may not be easy to remove, nor the desire for relief, but you can change the routine you engage in for relief, choosing a better one. If the new routine is effective, you can replace the old with the new; it soon becomes part of a new habit.


The third was a significant insight for me. Why do we find ourselves able to put effort into some things, but not other things? For me, the kind of things I can put effort into tend to change both over the long and the short term.
Your brain [...] won't allow the body to consume additional energy without a good reason. A "good reason" is defined in this case as a goal with a reasonable chance of success. For your brain to approve dispensing more energy to accomplish whatever task is in front of you, something has to "click." That something happens in our conscious mind space, and it's called belief.

Our cynical culture has made belief into a punch line, but our brains are not amused. In fact, no matter how much we want to belittle belief (or believers), it remains one of the most potent metacognitive tools at our disposal, and we ignore it at our peril. Here's the simple fact borne out by reams of research: until we believe that we can do something, we are not allotted the energy resources to do it.
If we despair (i.e. believe our situation cannot improve), our brain diverts energy from action, into a downward spiral of negative thought loops.

If we hope (i.e. believe our situation can and will improve), our brain fuels our efforts.

In the words of Breznitz and Hemingway, "Both hope and despair are self-fulfilling prophecies.
He recommends a "bare-knuckles belief audit" ("because it's essential that you don't lie to yourself"), checking what we believe about our objectives: can they be achieved or not? "Think of your brain as an investor you're pitching to inject massive resources into your projects, but the only way to make that happen is by convincing this miserly investor to fully commit." Examining our beliefs is how we "prepare ourselves to make the winning pitch." We must know what we really believe in order to be able to change it, and in turn direct energy into needed action.

To fill in some blanks: wrong beliefs can not only shut down our ability to do important work, but also direct it towards meaningless "projects". (We believe something is important and that we can do it, when there's really no point to the project in the first place.) So we must "believe in" (have genuine hope for) what matters, and trash what doesn't matter.


Skipping ahead to the sixth, it's vital to get motivated - but if we overly anticipate reward, we can become fatally "overmotivated": overmotivated people make lots of careless mistakes, simply because their brains are overly flooded with dopamine and can't focus straight. (It may feel great, but it turns us into half-wits.) So while there's the need to stay motivated, or "hopeful", we also do well to consciously temper our expectations, keeping anticipation in check.


Seventh, and drawing on the theory of feedback loops in the first part of the book, is understanding our emotional feedback loops. We have "background feeling", which can change and which influences the kind of moods that may build, as we perceive and react to things. It's important to keep track of so we can take it into account. (E.g., if we feel "off" one day.) "Moods" are what tends to "rub off" on other people - which of course goes both ways. Moods in turn lead to the most intense level - emotions in response to a trigger.

If we keep track of and understand our states at the less intense levels, we can engage conscious control well before the point where we might otherwise "lose it". We need to get good at doing "emotional forecasting" for our own short-term future, and act accordingly.


Eight, a section on factors that influence dishonesty, including self-deception. One example: apparently, the more creative we are, the greater the risk we'll end up fooling ourselves in one way or another. The "dark side of creativity" is using it (not necessarily consciously) in self-serving ways to justify ourselves.

The lesson to learn is to keep a mental tally of the various factors described that increase dishonesty. Then we can compensate in also knowing factors that decrease dishonesty. E.g., if we feel depleted (a risk factor), getting energized can reduce risk of dishonesty. Making a pledge or giving ourselves "moral reminders" are other ways of countering tendencies toward dishonesty.

Basically, know our weaknesses, including those that go along with our other strengths, and compensate intelligently.


Skipping to the 13th, "learn to stop thoughts". We can have a large variety of automatic thoughts that are utterly pointless - either just a distraction or worse. A habit can be trained, of using mental "stop signs" of "stop commands" - not wrestling with the useless thoughts, but just simply saying stop and stopping them. Useful for dealing with repetitive thought loops.


The 15th mentions that when we feel overwhelmed by the size of a task, the best way to proceed is to just pick something and do it. This reduces the perceived burden and "hopelessness" of the task - which our brain automatically registers when a task gets too "big" and complex.

The point is not mindless activity, but to counteract mental "paralysis": doing something (and reducing the remaining size of the task) rather than nothing.


The 19th covers 10 common reasons why people fail. These include a variety of fears and fixed ideas. E.g., some people are led to the false belief that they have a definite "ceiling" and begin to think they may have hit it.

Some are afraid of "losing what they have built" - but we're all going to die eventually, "so what? Push forward." Nothing to lose. And as for fear of dying, "would you rather die as a monument to mediocrity or as someone who never quit striving?"

There's some good thoughts in this little section, and I recognized some of the problems it mentioned.


I'll just finish with a list of all the "tools":
  • Use the Awareness Wedge
  • Use the Golden Rule of Habit Change to Transform Your Behavior
  • Conduct a Bare-Knuckles Belief Audit of Your Goals
  • Chew Gum
  • Write Your Own Obituary
  • Get Motivated, Not Overmotivated
  • Understand Your Emotional Experience Feedback Loop
  • Sync Conscious and Unconscious Motivations by Checking the Forces that Shape Dishonesty
  • Seek Mindful Integration
  • Enforce Periodic Campaigns of Silence
  • Challenge Some of Your Judgmental Heuristics
  • Boost Self-Control with a Burst of Glucose
  • Learn to Stop Thoughts
  • Create an Impromptu Brain Sync
  • Just Keep Doing Something
  • Sleep to Keep Your Cerebral Circuits from Overheating
  • Assert Thyself
  • Manifest Your Resilience
  • Conduct a Failure Assessment
  • Keep Tabs on Your Chemical Thresholds
  • Make a Study of People Who Love What They Do
  • Boost Your Metaphor Quotient (MQ)
  • Increase Your Culture Dosage
  • Begin an Enriching Routine of Reading Challenging Literature and Watching Challenging Movies
  • Think... Really Think... About Achievement
  • Understand the Elements of Self-Regulation
  • Move Your Body to Manage Your Mind
  • Study the Minds of Metacognitive Pioneers
  • Put Yourself Through a Catastrophic Loss Exercise
  • Meet the 12 Metarepresentations of Mind

As a final note, the "metacognitive pioneers" or "great thinkers" he has in mind prominently include Marcus Aurelius (and his Meditations). And I'd say stoic philosophy is well combined with this book; actually, it gave me a clearer view of how I'd failed to apply the ideals that I thought and felt I valued.
 

aragorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Thanks, Psalehesost. This sounds exactly like the kind of book I should read right now. Just purchased the kindle version.
 

Laura

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Aragorn said:
Thanks, Psalehesost. This sounds exactly like the kind of book I should read right now. Just purchased the kindle version.
Yeah. This sounds like something that we should put on our reading list. As others read it, please give some feedback as to whether it is important enough to do that. It might be a good introduction to "The Work."
 

aragorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Laura said:
Aragorn said:
Thanks, Psalehesost. This sounds exactly like the kind of book I should read right now. Just purchased the kindle version.
Yeah. This sounds like something that we should put on our reading list. As others read it, please give some feedback as to whether it is important enough to do that. It might be a good introduction to "The Work."
Roger that. I'm reading it now.

Here's the direct link to the kindle version:

http://amzn.com/B00FIP4CF6
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
Great summary, Psalehesost.

Psalehesost said:
The third was a significant insight for me. Why do we find ourselves able to put effort into some things, but not other things? For me, the kind of things I can put effort into tend to change both over the long and the short term.
Your brain [...] won't allow the body to consume additional energy without a good reason. A "good reason" is defined in this case as a goal with a reasonable chance of success. For your brain to approve dispensing more energy to accomplish whatever task is in front of you, something has to "click." That something happens in our conscious mind space, and it's called belief.

Our cynical culture has made belief into a punch line, but our brains are not amused. In fact, no matter how much we want to belittle belief (or believers), it remains one of the most potent metacognitive tools at our disposal, and we ignore it at our peril. Here's the simple fact borne out by reams of research: until we believe that we can do something, we are not allotted the energy resources to do it.
If we despair (i.e. believe our situation cannot improve), our brain diverts energy from action, into a downward spiral of negative thought loops.

If we hope (i.e. believe our situation can and will improve), our brain fuels our efforts.

In the words of Breznitz and Hemingway, "Both hope and despair are self-fulfilling prophecies.
He recommends a "bare-knuckles belief audit" ("because it's essential that you don't lie to yourself"), checking what we believe about our objectives: can they be achieved or not? "Think of your brain as an investor you're pitching to inject massive resources into your projects, but the only way to make that happen is by convincing this miserly investor to fully commit." Examining our beliefs is how we "prepare ourselves to make the winning pitch." We must know what we really believe in order to be able to change it, and in turn direct energy into needed action.

To fill in some blanks: wrong beliefs can not only shut down our ability to do important work, but also direct it towards meaningless "projects". (We believe something is important and that we can do it, when there's really no point to the project in the first place.) So we must "believe in" (have genuine hope for) what matters, and trash what doesn't matter.
I too found this interesting. Sometimes, our intellectual center will find an idea appealing and set up a goal. However, without the buy-in from the body and/or emotions, there is little chance of following up on it.

The body (instinctive-moving center) is in charge of keeping ourselves alive. By itself, it deals with energy economy and would only invest in something that has a payoff in terms of what it considers as survival needs. The body makes snap decisions and such decisions are sometimes not in our best interests. Sometimes the body makes wrong decisions because of its epigenetic heritage - it treats mundane situations (like somebody giving us a cross look) as threatening emergencies and goes into hyperdrive. Sometimes it just does not see the point in spending energy in activity like "gaining knowledge" and would rather go to sleep or do something to get an immediate boost of neurochemicals.

The body can be more easily controlled if the emotional center steps in. Common people are known to suffer incredible hardships and perform otherwise astounding feats under the influence of strong emotions. Beliefs can be formed by the combined action of intellect and emotions - and perhaps this is what the author of the book is referring to in the quoted passage. For goals which are long-term or require significant investment in terms of energy, being emotionally engaged with the goal is essential for us to stay the course. Positive visualization techniques - like seeing oneself as happy and contented from reaching the goal in a visceral way (i.e feeling and sensing the satisfaction in the body and emotions rather than thinking about it) may be a way to recruit the cooperation of the body and emotions. Breaking a big task into smaller tasks and viscerally celebrating the completion of these smaller tasks is also helpful.

It is not just a question of willpower - and this is perhaps important to consider. We can force ourselves by gritting our teeth and overriding the body temporarily but it is usually not an effective long-term strategy. It is a matter of energy economy and overriding the body over long periods with willpower burns a lot of energy. As mentioned in the quotes provided by Psalehesost, when we are tired, we tend to deviate from the goals. It is far better strategy to be pragmatic and make the body and emotions an ally in our quest and fight battles only when required to conserve energy.

The Stoics recommended doing an inventory at the end of the day asking questions like
“What ailment of yours have you cured today? What failing have you resisted? Where can you show improvement?”
Personally, I have a tendency to put all of my efforts to focus on things that went wrong and go into problem solving mode. While this approach has its benefits, it is one-sided and it takes its toll in different ways. I have been experimenting recently in combining this approach with some effort invested in relaxing the body with breathing and sensing and then viscerally recounting the small successes I have had during the day in regard to my goals, topping it off with a slight modification to the affirmation Palinurus posted here ,
"Every day, in every way, I am becoming better and better".

So far so good.

fwiw
 

Psalehesost

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
obyvatel said:
The body can be more easily controlled if the emotional center steps in. Common people are known to suffer incredible hardships and perform otherwise astounding feats under the influence of strong emotions. Beliefs can be formed by the combined action of intellect and emotions - and perhaps this is what the author of the book is referring to in the quoted passage. For goals which are long-term or require significant investment in terms of energy, being emotionally engaged with the goal is essential for us to stay the course. Positive visualization techniques - like seeing oneself as happy and contented from reaching the goal in a visceral way (i.e feeling and sensing the satisfaction in the body and emotions rather than thinking about it) may be a way to recruit the cooperation of the body and emotions. Breaking a big task into smaller tasks and viscerally celebrating the completion of these smaller tasks is also helpful.
In that specific part of the book I quoted and summarized, the discussion of the role of emotions seems more narrow - limited to whether one sees attaining a goal as possible or not. But earlier, in part 1 (the theoretical part) of the book, the initial role of emotions in our feedback loops - perceived relevance or meaning - is mentioned.

I think these two roles of emotion can be seen as two stages, as follows (though this may be a very rough division):
1. Emotional relevance of a goal, which leads to want/desire and possibly adoping it.
2. Emotional perception or "belief" regarding the hope vs. hopelessness of achieving the goal.

The two probably influence each other - for example, if we think we can't achieve something, we could end up devaluing it, or "lose interest", and think it wasn't worth it anyway. (As in "sour grapes.")

Anyway, the author mentions four "stages" of the cognitive feedback loops he discusses - and illustrates these with a simple example:
[list type=decimal]
[*]Evidence
[*]Relevance
[*]Consequence
[*]Action
[/list]

The Evidence Stage

Every feedback loop begins with data. In the broadest sense, data can be any information that's observed, collected, measured, and stored--whether it comes from within you or without. {I.e., any impressions our mind takes in and registers - consciously or otherwise, I should add, though the focus (and example which develops below) seems to involve a conscious level.} Observing how coworkers interact at the office, seeing numbers displayed when you step on the scale, or homing in on that weird buzzing noise coming from your right front tire while driving are examples of ways we collect data.

The Relevance Stage

[...] For data to become useful in the feedback loop, it must also be meaningful. Data that doesn't "click" is disregarded; it has to be relevant to the needs of the individual. For example, observing how your coworkers interact moves from raw data collection to meaningful data input when, perhaps, you sense that stronger integration with your peers will help you enjoy your time at work more than you do now, and maybe it will even help advance your career in the long run. That's the emotional "click" that keeps the loop moving. {The "emotional relevance of a goal" I mentioned above would begin with the relevance perceived at this stage. Again, that could be consciously or otherwise.}

The Consequence Stage

Once we have meaningful data [...] we have to know what to do with the information. You've made an observation of how your coworkers interact, and you've identified an emotionally relevant reason why this information is meaningful. What's the consequence of possessing this information? Now you need to make a determination about the consequences of either doing something with the information or doing nothing--[and doing so] brings us to the final stage. {"Consequence" makes for an important part of the motivation, adding to or elaborating the emotional relevance. But in this part of the book, he does not discuss the other question of perceived hope vs. hopelessness of achieving the goal. But I think that this also enters in this stage of the loop, in considering actions that might be taken.}

The Action Stage

When the requirements of relevance and consequence have been met, we are now faced with the challenge of doing. Continuing the office scenario: you've determined that failing to better integrate with this peer group will leave you floating uncomfortably at the periphery of the office social scene. As a consequence, you may miss out on networking opportunities that could benefit your career. Your path to action is illuminated. You move definitely ahead and take steps to improve connections with the group to accomplish your ultimate objective of becoming a regular and important part of it.

Once action is initiated, it is measured, and new observations are made--new evidence is collected and calibrated--and the feedback loop begins anew. With each rotation of the loop, you move closer to achieving your objectives.
The picture is complicated by other feedback loops - such as the one between the adaptive unconscious and the conscious mind, or in DiSalvo's terms, between "The System" and "The Mental Theater". Some - but only some - information trickles "up" to consciousness, while what goes on in our conscious minds trickles "down". Which means that all we think, feel, and do enters and changes the workings of the unconscious system, which in turn changes what we find ourselves thinking, feeling and doing.

Anyway, the above presentation suggests that what's important for motivation is having a sense of how something would benefit you - benefit you in a way you believe in. (Which can simply be to "feel better". And when it comes to this, and more, these positive visualization techniques mentioned by ovyvatel may help.) And in looking at the possible consequences of acting or not acting, our feelings come to provide both a carrot and a stick which together drive us.

fwiw

EDIT: The basis of such a "carrot and stick" could however vary quite a bit - as the basis for our feelings can vary. "Benefit" can potentially become altruistic rather than egoistic. Those who want to read more on that can search the forum for "Dabrowski" or for "positive disintegration".

EDIT2: Another book which expands on the theme of perceived benefit and "feeling better" is The Quest to Feel Good (under 'Optional' on the recommended reading list). It makes the point that we (human beings) do everything we do to "feel better" (relatively) in some way. ("Better" may, sometimes, still be a miserable state - but one that is perceived, consciously or unconsciously, to be less miserable in some important way. And there can be all manner of false, unconscious beliefs that drive us towards "feeling better" in destructive ways - whether or not it involves pleasant feelings in the short run.) Again, and something not mentioned in that book, the basis for "feeling good" can more fundamentally change, as described by Dabrowski.
 

aragorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I finished this book a couple of days ago. Since Psalehesost gave a great summary already, I'll provide my 'overall impression'.

As a book it's very easy to read. The author uses a lot of summaries at the end of the chapters, and 'compressed sentences' that include the most important things. The other thing I like is the positive attitude - it IS possible to change your automatic behavior and personality. Having said that, he makes it sound almost too easy.

Overall, the book is like a 'smorgasbord' with ideas from several studies. I feel that this book is a good starting point, and the author also includes a comprehensive list of recommended books (and movies).

There are a lot of similarities to "our" concepts like Metacognition (thinking about thinking, detaching from a problem), feedback loops (automatic behavior), narratives, different 'I:s', how we lie to ourselves, emotional hijacking, the benefits of helping others, taking responsibility for actions etc.

So, I would say that it's an easy read and a good starting point. To me personally it felt a bit too "light", not going into enough details. But I guess this book is meant to be like that, and that's one of the reasons it's easy to read. And the recommended reading list sounds interesting.

I did a lot of highlighting, so I'll post it here (sorry, very long!):

Brain Changer: How Harnessing Your Brain's Power to Adapt Can Change Your Life by David DiSalvo
You have 168 highlighted passages
You have 2 notes
Last annotated on February 16, 2014

---

minds are what our brains do, but they’re also what other brains do; humans are mind-synced in ways we never realized.Read more at location 440

The path of least resistance is apathy. I hope to convince you that the “apathy of mind” camp is not a good place to set up your tepee. If you do, you can expect to be on the receiving end of the other side’s influence with ever-increasing frequency. The reason why is deceptively simple: they will be better thinkers than you.Read more at location 450

Here’s the headline version: we now understand the underlying principles of how our brains work and interact with our environments.Read more at location 475

At the core is an understanding that our brains house constellations of never-ending “feedback loops,” operating together as a conceptual engine that drives our thoughts and behaviors.Read more at location 478

this book has a pragmatic objective: to present the possibility of change.Read more at location 491

My experience as a science writer—and a public education specialist before that—inoculates me against buying into success formulas. I just don’t see the world that way, and that’s why I say that I write “science-help” instead of self-help. Science-help draws knowledge clues from research to understand problems and propose solutions.2Read more at location 493

I am not an “I found the answer!” sort of person, and this isn’t that sort of book. As I said up front, we’re undertaking a thought experiment together. We’re building our awareness, exploring ways to turn that awareness into action.Read more at location 496

But we always have to remember that science isn’t about answers. It’s about questions. If we’re going to use the tools of science to do the work of exploring, then we have to acknowledge the rules of science as well, the most important of which is that we do not fool ourselves into thinking we’ve “nailed it” once and for all.Read more at location 499

Does that mean we can’t discover truths, and, practically speaking, make use of them in our lives? Of course not; books like this one would never be written if that were the case. It simply means that we have to be careful about adopting a courtroom mentality—concluding that we’ve settled the case and can move on. Instead, I think we should hope to settle a few parts of the “case,” and also open brand-new ones— which will captivate us, moving forward, as much as or more than their
forerunners.Read more at location 502

What this tool does, in a word, is facilitate detachment from a problem. It allows us to step away and apart from whatever is vexing us, and by doing so to gain perspective that wouldn’t be possible to attain in the direct path of the problem.1Read more at location 536

To get the most from metacognition, we have to train ourselves to focus its power and forge the discipline necessary to stay focused despite distractions.Read more at location 545

To put a finer point on all of this: metacognition is our most powerful internal tool to adjust our thinking and improve thinking outcomes.Read more at location 547

Some of the ways this is accomplished—which we’ll discuss throughout the book—include:
• Influencing feedback loops, the engines of our adaptive brains • Addressing cognitive
distortions (also known as “thinking errors”) • Catalyzing neurochemical changes in the brainRead more at location 548

feedback loops are the very engines of our adaptive brains.Read more at location 557

Feedback loops operate in four distinct stages, each inextricably linked to the
next.Read more at location 562

To simplify how the brain accomplishes metacognition, it’s useful to think of a feedback loop that incorporates both conscious and unconscious components of the mind.Read more at location 607

In other words, information stored in The System can be retrieved or in a sense “checked out,” like library

The new unconscious isn’t free from the chaos of unfelt emotions, needs, wants, and desires—but what we now understand, after more than a half a century of intense research, is that the unconscious is more akin to a massive modular processing system than to a psycho-emotional abyss.Read more at location 649

This is where the discussion gets tricky. It’s tempting to believe that we can directly access and change what’s happening in the unconscious. But this is largely a misperception known as the “introspection illusion.”Read more at location 658

Introspection—literally “looking into oneself”—is not a waste of time, but it’s also not a magical key to unlocking the unconscious. Unfortunately, many self-help and new-age books would have us believe that introspection is such a key, and that learning new (or ancient) methods of introspection will get us what we want from our unconscious minds, as if on tap.Read more at location 660

Access to the unconscious is possible, but it is limited, and that’s not a bad thing. Evolution has installed a system of inestimable value in our brains called “automaticity,” which allows all of those unconscious modules we’ve been referring to (those and thousands more) to run without conscious
intervention.Read more at location 664

We are, in effect, training our brains to run the metacognition loop more often and more efficiently—and that is the essence of our brains’ adaptive ability.Read more at location 678

One researcher compared metacognitive awareness to a volume control: the higher we can raise the metacognitive volume, the more aware we are of possible thinking responses. Again, we formulate these thinking strategies in the theater of the mind—so to continue the metaphor, we’re not only turning up the volume, but also the screen resolution.Read more at location 685

to change and choosing directions that achieve better outcomes in our lives.Read more at location 700

We have to be ready to detach and assess a situation on the spot, because the dynamics of whatever is going on are probably moving too fast for anything but immediate action.Read more at location 718

My argument throughout this book is that finding and applying knowledge clues from solid sources gives us a metacognitive edge.Read more at location 722

metacognition loop is the process by which unconscious information (in “The System”) is looped into conscious mind space (the “mental theater”) and changes to that information are ultimately looped back into The System.Read more at location 755

we must resist the notion that we can gain on-demand access to the unconscious through introspection; believing we can do so is called the “introspection illusion.”Read more at location 757

awareness is the degree to which we use metacognition to select from “thinking strategies” that in turn influence our thoughts and behavior.Read more at location 763

What humans can do that these other species cannot is detach from their self-perspective and examine a situation that includes oneself from a position outside oneself.Read more at location 785
[My Note: gurdjieff: self remebering]

After reading that last paragraph, you may ask, “Well, that’s nice, but what if I get carried away by my impulse to act in the moment?” The answer is that all of us can change what happens next, although we’re admittedly more inclined to react from the older part of our evolutionary inheritance—our reactive limbic system, with its well-known fight-or-flight tendencies.Read more at location 798

much of our “theorizing” about what others think and feel occurs via the quick and automatic processes of the unconscious.Read more at location 810

Siegel’s work, which touched off a new field, “interpersonal neurobiology,” suggests that when we speak of “mind,” we are speaking of interrelationships between our brain, our mind, and others’ minds. In other words, mind is both internal and relational.Read more at location 819

Hence, our mind “emerges” from an ongoing internal and relational exchange.Read more at location 826

Consumer societies often acculturate us to believe that whatever “feels good” is worth pursuing—“feels good” in this case being a proxy term for instinct.Read more at location 853

Research has focused on the role of the inner voice in establishing a habitual inner dialogue—which is simply a psychological way to say that what we repeat to ourselves will eventually become the “reality” we perceive ourselves to be living.Read more at location 860

“Autonoetic” refers to the highest level of attainable self-awareness.Read more at location 878

In my definition, the autonoetic personality has very little use for autopilot when it comes to the things he or she can consciously influence.Read more at location 881

there are distinct benefits to becoming an autonoetic personality,7 including: • Higher levels of creativity • Heightened ability to apply learned knowledge • Enhanced adaptability in how we think about problems • Better task performance (in our jobs, at school,
etc.)Read more at location 887

well-educated inner voice is trained to speak from a position of detachment, while an uneducated inner voice speaks from a position of reactive emotion.Read more at location 907

our brains are the product of biological evolution, but that which our brains create generates the nonstop whirlwind of cultural evolution. Ironic, isn’t it, that we must adapt to a world created by the most complex example of evolutionary adaptation on the planet?Read more at location 954

Pragmatic adaptation refers to how we must adapt our thoughts and behavior to negotiate our way through the world our brains created.Read more at location 956

When we’re particularly concerned that something could go very wrong if we’re not careful, our brain’s natural threat response causes anxiety levels to increase and attention to be diverted toward the perceived threat.Read more at location 964

The quality of the information in our feedback loops is of paramount importance, as is the way we handle
the information.Read more at location 968 B00FIP4CF6 145224 Note: Add a note
Just in the last ten years, research has discovered that not only can our personality change, but that a change in personality can contribute more to our life satisfaction and happiness than a change in our job, our marriage, or where we live.6Read more at location 988

A prolonged period of resting state could contribute to the onset of depression.Read more at location 1047

our brains misinterpret information (evidence), resulting in a distortion of feedback loops—and this, in turn, hampers our ability to adapt.Read more at location 1058

achieving part of your goal now may set you up for achieving more of it later.Read more at location 1111 • Delete this highlight     • Undo deletion
B00FIP4CF6 166669 Note: Add a note
Thinking errors are difficult to identify and check before they do their damage because their source material—automatic thoughts—have been “bubbling up” from our unconscious for most of our lives.Read more at location 1119

Indulging thinking errors for years establishes neural patterns in our brains.Read more at location 1123

It’s not necessarily that multiple external problems are “happening” to you all at once, but quite possibly that you’ve wandered into a patch of difficult-to-manage thinking distortions that have skewed your view of what’s going on in your life.Read more at location 1159

what matters in the moments of self-evaluation is how the thoughts feel. If they feel true, and if they continue to hold sway over consciousness, your behavior will fall in alignment with those thoughts.Read more at location 1179

there had to be a few crucial moments of detachment during which the percolating negative thoughts were paused and reviewed. It’s in this space that metacognition happened and the outcome changed.Read more at location 1186

Pausing, evaluating, and challenging are bricks in a much more challenging road—but only by taking that road can we hope to achieve balance between the poles. Without balance, automatic thoughts push us around and we default to escape the discomfort.Read more at location 1189

BEING EGO-SYMMETRIC IS NOT THE SAME AS BEING “COLD” AND UNEMOTIONAL— INSTEAD, IT’S ABOUT BEING IN BETTER CONTROL OF HOW NEGATIVITY AFFECTS OUR ABILITY TO ADAPT AND THRIVE.Read more at location 1203

change is more important to well-being than external socioeconomic and demographic
variables.Read more at location 1221

errors—often the product of erroneous information percolating from the unconscious—can distort feedback loops and hamper our ability to adapt.Read more at location 1224

Cultural evolution, we said, is the product of our brains—which, ironically, are the product of millennia of biological evolution, a dynamic that moves far more slowly than cultural evolution.Read more at location 1237

To successfully adapt to the demands of cultural evolution, we must have access to feedback; it’s the very key to our pragmatic forward progress.Read more at location 1238

Our metacognitive abilities are distinguished from the self-awareness of other species by our ability to mentally detach from the immediate situation to observe our thinking, as if from a position outside ourselves.Read more at location 1247

This higher-order level of detachment is, as far as we know, unique to humans, and it provides us with tremendous capabilities that we often take for granted.Read more at location 1250

disciplines embodied by a good journalist is crucial to the effective practice of metacognitive: 1) acting quickly, 2) relying on solid sources, 3) asking the right questions, 4) following the story where it leads, and 5) not glossing over inconvenient facts.Read more at location 1253

The crucial question, we said, is whether the inner voice is speaking from a metacognitive “soapbox,” or if it lacks the detachment of metacognition and is speaking from instinct and untethered
emotion.Read more at location 1256

We made the distinction between an “educated” and an “uneducated” inner voice, and emphasized the need to educate our inner voice to lead us to better outcomes in our lives.Read more at location 1257

The term “narrative thread” has been used by philosophers, psychologists, and novelists—among others— to describe essentially the same thing: how we hold our “selves” together in a more or less unified way as we proceed through our lives.Read more at location 1266

The use of “selves,” in quotation marks, instead of “self” is intentional, because more and more research indicates that the “I,” or self-identity, in our minds is not one coherent entity, but a composite of interplaying self-identities.Read more at location 1267

At times this interplay is erratic, at other times in sync—but the crucial point is that the unified “I” within is a useful illusion that our brains foster on our behalf.Read more at location 1269

Our brains developed this centering mechanism to keep us focused on our prime evolutionary objectives: to avoid threats and pursue rewards.Read more at location 1274

We can observe how important this adaptive mechanism is by studying schizophrenics—those whose brains are unable to draw the narrative “threads” together to regain the unified sense of self most of us possess. In this case, the “threads” are flailing in disparate directions, failing to find the central harnessing point that would pull them into a coherent self-identity.Read more at location 1278

The best evidence uncovered by cognitive science so far suggests that we are not just one “self”—we are composite “selves”—but our brains adaptively foster a unified sense of self (the “I” within the “You”) because that is the most effective means to survive and thrive in this world.Read more at location 1283

External scripting contributes to the running scripts we refer to on a daily basis, which are a combination of external influence (much of which we have already internalized) and genetic
propensity.Read more at location 1296

For example, the external scripting from our employer may direct us to be more extroverted in our interactions with coworkers and clients, but that scripting must meld with our genetic propensity to be an introvert.Read more at location 1297

Perhaps, instead, the true meaning of pragmatically adapting in this case is to realize that we are in the
wrong job.Read more at location 1305 B00FIP4CF6 195736 Note: Add a note
If we force-adapt to those situations over and over again, we’ll eventually burn out.Read more at location 1307

The same goes for any number of life scenarios where an external script that radically counters our natural style is placed in front of us. We try to internalize it, but making it “fit” is tedious, if not
torturous.Read more at location 1309

That’s what makes identifying external scripts so important—seeing them clearly can provide the impetus for making better decisions.Read more at location 1315

In this way, our self-narratives are always changing in subtle or substantial ways. Narrative is never static. And, as we have discussed in previous chapters, our brains are never static. Our personalities are never static. We are forever in a state of flux,Read more at location 1329

WE EFFECTIVELY USE METACOGNITION TO INFLUENCE FEEDBACK LOOPS, WE CONSCIOUSLY INFLUENCE OUR SELF-NARRATIVE, AND WE FOSTER A GREATER ABILITY TO PRAGMATICALLY ADAPT. WE ARE NOT RIDING THE WAVES OF HAPPENSTANCE—WE ARE USING THE ADAPTIVE POWER OF OUR BRAINS TO DIRECT OUR PATHS TO THE

ABSOLUTE BEST OF OUR ABILITIES. WE ARE, IN A SENSE, ACTIVELY WRITING OUR NARRATIVE INSTEAD OF WATCHING IT BEING WRITTEN FOR US WHILE WE CRUISE ON AUTOPILOT.Read more at location 1350

scripts are both internal and external, and they exert great influence on us daily—usually without conscious assessment. They “run” below the surface of consciousness.Read more at location 1361

most of our brain’s processing doesn’t occur in what we call “conscious mind space.” It happens in a vast
unconscious System.Read more at location 1411 B00FIP4CF6 211707 Note: Add a note
In a sense it is mechanistic, because our brains and bodies are, in a manner of speaking, organic machines.Read more at location 1438

By autonoetic, I mean that they’ll attain a higher degree of self-awareness. Research shows that becoming more autonoetic has several benefits, such as higher levels of creativity, heightened ability to apply learned knowledge, and more adaptability in terms of thinking through
problems.Read more at location 1454

“Adaptation breeds success.”Read more at location 1463

Simply spending a lot of time thinking about something is no guarantee that all of our anguished processing will result in the best outcome.Read more at location 1513

it’s a miser in that it won’t allow the body to consume additional energy without a good reason. A “good reason” is defined in this case as a goal with a reasonable chance of success. For your brain to approve dispensing more energy to accomplish whatever task is in front of you, something has to “click.” That something happens in our conscious mind space, and it’s called belief.Read more at location 1557

Here’s the simple fact borne out by reams of research: until we believe that we can do something, we are not allotted the resources to do it.Read more at location 1562

Hope is the belief that our situation can and will improve no matter what, and when we fully embrace it, our brain responds with a deluge of mental energy to enable reaching the hopeful outcome.Read more at location 1568

Belief is an essential brain changer; without it, your brain will not provide the resources required to accomplish whatever is in your sights.Read more at location 1581

we aren’t able to hold in consciousness all of the contradictory aspects of the self without psychologically fragmenting and losing a necessary sense of control.Read more at location 1621

our brains’ reward centers can be overwhelmed with “want” to the point that a deluge of dopamine handicaps our capacity to consciously evaluate and control the pursuit.Read more at location 1653

“Motivated people succeed. Overmotivated people fail.”Read more at location 1656

we are equipped with the ability to tune down the reward center before dopamine floods its circuits and makes controlling the outcome increasingly difficult.Read more at location 1657

when we understand the working parts of the reward feedback loop, we increase our chances of preventing overmotivation. The most critical part is the perceived, expected benefit of reaching the goal (reward).Read more at location 1662

the very act of consciously tempering expectations will slow the loop’s velocity.Read more at location 1665

The first element is background feeling—the emotional setting, if you will, for all emotional experiences. Psychologists David Watson and Lee Anna Clark describe this as stream of affect.Read more at location 1675

the stream of affect that sets our daily emotional background.Read more at location 1680

Stream of affect leads to the next level of emotional intensity: mood state.Read more at location 1681

Mood state leads to the most intense level of emotional experience—the onset of an emotion. Emotion is not synonymous with “emotional experience,” but is rather a specific, usually short-term event that manifests in response to a trigger. Triggers can be external to the self or internal (such as deeply felt trauma relived through memory).Read more at location 1685

As Dr. Shelley Carson describes in her book Your Creative Brain, complete control by an emotion is called “emotional hijacking.”Read more at location 1691

At this point, the action tendency has become an “action imperative,” and when that transition is made, we have little control over our emotionally driven actions.Read more at location 1693

By understanding these points in the emotional experience feedback loop, we can engage conscious control well before reaching the action-imperative stage.Read more at location 1695

The important thing is not to avoid the experience of intensely felt emotion, but to try our best to honestly

forecast where our emotional state is going.Read more at location 1698

A moral reminder can be an actual, physical reminder in your daily planner, or a mental note that you
refer to often.Read more at location 1741

The most salient point Ariely makes is that we lie to ourselves as much as or more than we lie to others. His work is of critical importance to knowing how to identify self-deception before we are swept up in it.Read more at location 1742

Judgmental heuristics are essential to our survival, but can also predispose us to faulty decision making. Knowing when a judgmental heuristic is being exploited educates our thinking and improves future outcomes.Read more at location 1809

Since glucose is the brain’s primary energy source,Read more at location 1829

Two techniques are especially crucial: thought stopping and thought
postponement.Read more at location 1845

“Whenever you find your thoughts cycling (going over and over), distract yourself from them. Get up and do something else.”Read more at location 1863

whenever you align your thoughts and actions with a belief that helping someone else is worthwhile, you’ve initiated an impromptu brain sync with that person’s brain—and by doing so you’ve infused his or her brain with a sense of belief that success is attainable.Read more at location 1883

When we witness positive action to help someone succeed, our brain registers the event as evidence of our capability to do the same. In other words, helping someone succeed becomes an attainable “reward” (in cognitive-science parlance), and we actually start looking for opportunities to attain
it.Read more at location 1886

This is excellent brain medicine because it builds neural connections around altruistic belief; in a very real sense, our brains grow from the experience.Read more at location 1888

The frequent outcome of this biochemical relay is mental paralysis. “Too much” is translated as “too risky” and “too dangerous,” and you experience a system-wide stoppage.Read more at location 1898

The best option may be the least obvious: restart, anywhere. Just to be clear, this isn’t an appeal to the dubious virtue of randomness; it’s a solid strategic change in thinking to undercut mental paralysis.Read more at location 1903

Strategy is chiefly composed of two options: (1) that which we choose to do, and (2) that which we
choose not to do.Read more at location 1906

That progress will yield accomplishment—however small—that will in turn spawn more progress.Read more at location 1909

if your input shuttle for achieving a goal lacks the critical, emotionally relevant component of belief, then the feedback loop is drained of octane from the start.Read more at location 2036

My experience has been that sometimes you have to let the energy flow for a while without too firm a sense of direction and see if focus emerges organically.Read more at location 2086

Research suggests that alcohol’s effect on dopamine is more significant for men than women, which may account for men drinking more than women on average.Read more at location 2115

Over time, with more drinking, the dopamine effect diminishes until it’s almost nonexistent. But at this stage, a drinker is often “hooked” on the feeling of dopamine release in the reward center, even though they’re no longer getting it. Once a compulsive need to go back again and again for that release is established, addiction takes hold.Read more at location 2118

Though their career paths may have swerved here and there, they’ve remained connected to the initial challenge—that all-important motivating “juice”—that compelled them toward their
field.Read more at location 2146

I wish that more people would realize that if they dig way back into their personal histories (and I mean way back, well into childhood), they’ll connect up with some extremely important reminders.Read more at location 2152

People who genuinely love their jobs have done this—in fact, they’re usually doing it all the time—and are in touch with that kid who loved to write, or tell stories, or envision amazing buildings.Read more at location 2156

Portfolio thinkers know that their careers will always combine positives and negatives. The crucial thing is, they don’t choke on the negatives and they don’t get too high on the
positives.Read more at location 2165

And people who love what they do recognize that if a company or firm or nonprofit—whatever—ceases to provide an adequate venue for doing what they love, then it’s time to move on.Read more at location 2192

Respected achievers own their role on the team instead of trying to explain why their responsibility should be less than the others.Read more at location 2339

As participants’ thinking improved with practice—even after optimal muscle function was achieved— they expended less energy.Read more at location 2366

running and other forms of exercise can do things for the brain we’re not even sure the best of modern
pharmacology can do.Read more at location 2395

It is no exaggeration to call The Developing Mind a masterwork.Read more at location 2574
Recommended books
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us Daniel H. Pink Riverhead (2009)

Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, PhD Basic Books (1997)

Five Minds for the Future Howard Gardner Harvard Business School Press
(2009)

The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone—Especially Ourselves Dan Ariely, PhD Harper (2012)

How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed Ray Kurzweil Viking (2012)

I Am a Strange Loop Douglas R. Hofstadter Basic Books (2007)

Louder Than Words: The New Science of How the Mind Makes Meaning Benjamin K. Bergen Basic Books (2012)

Managing Your Mind: The Mental Fitness Guide (Second Edition) Gillian Butler, PhD and Tony Hope, MD Oxford University Press (2007)

Mindhacker: 60 Tips, Tricks, and Games to Take Your Mind to the Next Level Ron and Marty Hale-Evans Wiley (2011)

Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation Daniel J. Siegel, MD Bantam (2010)

Multiplicity: The New Science of Personality, Identity, and the Self Rita Carter Little, Brown and Company (2008) Why does each of us think of ourself as an individual “I” when, in truth, we are several different selves during the course of any given day?

On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not Robert A. Burton, MD St. Martin’s Press (2008) Robert Burton effectively argues that many of our most stubborn truth stances are not really about being right, but about feeling right. He posits that neural connections between a thought and the sensation of being correct strengthen over time because the brain experiences the sensation as a reward.

On Second Thought: Outsmarting Your Mind’s Hard-Wired Habits Wray Herbert Crown (2010)

The Other Side of Normal: How Biology Is Providing the Clues to Unlock the Secrets of Normal and Abnormal Behavior Jordan Smoller HarperCollins (2012)

Are psychopaths born or bred, and does it make a difference?

The Owner’s Manual for the Brain: Everyday Applications from Mind-Brain Research Pierce J. Howard, PhD Bard Press (2006)

Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are Daniel Nettle Oxford University Press (2007)

The Rough Guide to Psychology Christian Jarrett Rough Guides (2011)

The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life Kenneth J. Gergen Basic Books (1991)

Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain Antonio Damasio, PhD Pantheon (2010)

The Self Illusion: How the Social Brain Creates Identity Bruce Hood, PhD Oxford University Press (2012)

A Skeptic’s Guide to the Mind: What Neuroscience Can and Cannot Tell Us About Ourselves Robert A. Burton, MD St. Martin’s Press (2013)

Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships Daniel Goleman Bantam Books (2006)

Soul Dust: The Magic of Consciousness Nicholas Humphrey, PhD Princeton University Press (2011) Humphrey’s book is a lesser-known gem that combines elegant— almost poetic—prose with solid science. It’s a great find for anyone who wants to go beyond understanding what we know about the emergent properties of consciousness

Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious Timothy D. Wilson, PhD Belknap Press/Harvard University Press (2002)

Stumbling on Happiness Daniel Gilbert, PhD Knopf (2006)

Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior Leonard Mlodinow Pantheon (2012)

The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human V. S. Ramachandran W. W. Norton and Company (2011)

Think! Before It’s Too Late Edward de Bono Random House (2010)

Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing Douglas Van Praet Palgrave Macmillan (2012)

Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements Tom Rath and Jim Harter Gallup Press (2010)

Who’s in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain Michael S. Gazzaniga, PhD Ecco (2011)

Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind Robert Kurzban Princeton University Press (2011)

Your Brain Is (Almost) Perfect: How We Make Decisions Read Montague Plume (2007)

Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity, and Innovation in Your Life Shelley Carson, PhD Jossey-Bass (2010)

Boundaries of the Soul: The Practice of Jung’s Psychology (Revised Edition) June Singer Anchor Books (2004)

Escaping the Self: Alcoholism, Spirituality, Masochism, and Other Flights from the Burden of Selfhood Roy F. Baumeister Basic Books (1991)
 
Thanks for posting about this book, Psalehesost. I started reading the Kindle version today, and have found it interesting and useful so far. DiSalvo's description of 'thinking errors' stood out to me, with his clear and simple explanations. They are useful definitions for me to keep in mind when reading some of what is discussed throughout the forum threads, and in examining my thinking. I quoted it below in case it may be useful to anyone else.

DiSalvo, David (2013-11-19). Brain Changer: How Harnessing Your Brain's Power to Adapt Can Change Your Life (p. 47).
All-or-nothing thinking: Thinking in terms of absolutes; it is either one way or another with no middle ground possible. “If someone has acted coldly toward me in the past, that person will always act that way toward me in the future.” “I won’t settle for anything less than the specific promotion I want, and if I don’t get it, I’ll quit— it’s all or nothing.”

Overgeneralization: Using one perceived aspect of something or someone to describe everything or everyone that is similar. “People who buy huge SUVs aren’t conscious of the environment. Anyone who gets a tattoo must be rebellious.”

Disqualifying the positive: Thinking that if something good happens it’s by luck or accident, but when something bad happens it was the expected outcome. “If I do well on this test it’ll be a fluke, but if I do poorly it’ll be because I’m not smart enough.”

Disqualifying the negative: Thinking that if something bad happens it won’t reflect anything about you, but if something good happens it will be because of your actions. “If I don’t get this job, I know it’ll be because I’m too intimidating for the hiring committee; they’ll want someone who they can walk all over instead.”

Mind reading: Thinking that you’re able to correctly determine what someone else is thinking even if you have little or no evidence. “My boss expects me to ask for a raise, so I know she’s going to be defensive when I speak to her.”

Fortune telling: Predicting the worst possible outcome for any given situation. “I’ll go on the date, but it’s really useless because I already know the relationship won’t go anywhere.”

Magnification and minimization: Either overstating or understating the reality of a situation without considering contrary evidence. “If I get turned down by Stephanie, it’ll prove that I am truly worthless and undeserving of anyone’s attention.”

Emotional reasoning: Believing your negative feelings without questioning them and acting accordingly. “I feel angry so my anger must be justified.”

Labeling: Placing a label on a person that colors the rest of your thinking regardless of contrary evidence. “John is wearing two earrings, so I know he’s not someone I can take seriously.”

Personalizing: Thinking that any event, no matter how innocuous, has something to do with you. “Sarah didn’t smile when she saw me in the hall today at work, so she must be upset with me.”

Faulty comparisons: Failing to see important distinctions between people or things, or acting as if differences don’t matter. “A manager at one big company is just as miserable as a manager at another; it’s the same everywhere.”

False expectations: Failing to see the true dimensions, variables, or possibilities of any given goal or problem. “If I get a degree, I’ll get a job that pays a lot of money— that’s just how it works.”
 

aragorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I just realized, that the thing that I missed most in this book was insights on how these different feedback loops and other "faulty" automatic behavioral responses develop. What are the possible causes? Because I believe that in order to heal and really change, we need to understand the processes that are involved in e.g. our upbringing. The previously recommended books on psychology, like The Narcissistic Family, deals with more details regarding this aspect.

And I think this is one of the reasons the author made the whole changing thing sound too easy - he only focused on the 'here and now'. I think that if we don't understand our past and how our woundings have come to be, we are probably going to pass all sorts of "weird behavior" to the next generation, and any "change" we accomplish will not be lasting.
 

edgitarra

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
Aragorn said:
I just realized, that the thing that I missed most in this book was insights on how these different feedback loops and other "faulty" automatic behavioral responses develop. What are the possible causes? Because I believe that in order to heal and really change, we need to understand the processes that are involved in e.g. our upbringing. The previously recommended books on psychology, like The Narcissistic Family, deals with more details regarding this aspect.

And I think this is one of the reasons the author made the whole changing thing sound too easy - he only focused on the 'here and now'. I think that if we don't understand our past and how our woundings have come to be, we are probably going to pass all sorts of "weird behavior" to the next generation, and any "change" we accomplish will not be lasting.
I agree with you somehow, but i think it might have been his choice/part of his strategy to put accent on some particular subjects. This is why he also presents a solid list of other books that can be read.
I finished the book last night, i like the fact it is easy and it could really fit as an introduction for the Work, or at least to have it here in the recommended books list.
 

Thor

Jedi Master
I got the book yesterday and am 40% through. I'm on the same page as Aragorn in finding it too light in language and content but I can see its value as an introductory overview. Well, to be more precise I find it too popular and over digested but using meta-cognition that also says something about me that's worth delving into :).

However, there's an issue relating to the content of the book that I am hoping to get some perspectives on from other members of the Forum.

It's like I'm in meta-cognition mode all the time. The mental awareness of what I'm saying, thinking, feeling is always on - busy analysing, comparing, trying to figure things out, etc. While this can have definite benefits in some situations, I often experience it as preventing me from just being present with whatever I'm doing or a barrier between myself and other people. For instance if I'm hanging out with a friend it's can be hard for me to connect to the person because the Awareness Wedge is simply to big, to use the term used in the book.

There are times when I slip out of meta-cognition mode. That can be if something is very interesting (triggers a reward due to the content being in alignment with a positive emotion) or if what the person I'm with is saying something where they open themselves up a lot and are very vulnerable. What'll usually happens is that after a short while I'll notice "wow, I'm not observing and analysing - that's great" and then it usually starts again.

This is one of the major focus points of my Work and something I've been struggling with for a long time. I do feel that progress is being made and actually my first SRT session with Patrick and Heather helped a lot.

I'd be very thankful for pointers and perspectives :).
 

edgitarra

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
Thor said:
It's like I'm in meta-cognition mode all the time. The mental awareness of what I'm saying, thinking, feeling is always on - busy analysing, comparing, trying to figure things out, etc. While this can have definite benefits in some situations, I often experience it as preventing me from just being present with whatever I'm doing or a barrier between myself and other people. For instance if I'm hanging out with a friend it's can be hard for me to connect to the person because the Awareness Wedge is simply to big, to use the term used in the book.
I am going to quote from the book 2 points that might help:
Any time we reflect upon our thinking processes and knowledge, we are metacognizing. Indeed, most of us do this all day long, though the way we do so generally lacks direction and tends to swerve into fields of endless rumination. To get the most from metacognition, we have to train ourselves to focus its power and forge the discipline necessary to stay focused despite distractions.
If it is considered a tool it must be used in the right way, at the right moments.
And this quote links with this one:
Mindhacker authors Ron and Marty Hale-Evans use the term semantic pause and divide the ability by duration and depth. They use the term tactical pause to describe a low-level and immediate stop, and the term contemplative pause to describe a high-level detachment that allows for greater depth of deliberation before acting. The ability is also sometimes referred to as a cognitive pause, which highlights the fact that we enact the ability in our conscious mind space. It's a type of antithetical thinking that causes a flashing red cognitive stop sign to keep us from taking another step.
Even though you have the book already and read these parts(I guess), I would recommend thinking about what they mean and how they can useful. Just my opinion.
 
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