Ever felt like you’re cruising along in life only to get hit dead on by a roadside bomb in the form of a disastrous consequence from a crappy decision? The kind of decision where you say to yourself: “What in God’s name was I thinking of?”
The funny thing (or perhaps painful at the moment) is you know that you laid that roadside bomb. You can’t blame it on an insurgent or your spouse. Nope, it was all you!
What the heck is going on here? Why do we keep laying these bombs in spite of our sincere desire to avoid doing so?
In my last message, I introduced the two minds of System 1 and System 2, as discussed by Dr. Kahneman in his groundbreaking book Thinking, Fast and Slow. For a quick review of my introduction to this concept, we learned that:
System 1 is Your Subconscious Mind, Spontaneous, Quick and Illogical:
For the vast majority of people, System 1 thinking is not active “thinking about this or that” rather it happens “to us” and in spite of our conscious mind beneath the radar. Those who are in various stages of freedom from this unconscious driver use techniques from training like Unbeatable Mind to learn how to control and access System 1 directly.
Shaped by evolution, System 1 provides a silent and continuous threat assessment and determines in a flash whether a situation is good or bad, requiring flight or encouraging contact. The way System 1 works is to monitor your external and internal environments, as well as what you have going on in your conscious mind, and then – based upon what it sees – to form a down and dirty quick response to keep you from injury or to move you toward pleasure.
System 2 is Your Rational Mind, Slower, Deliberate and Logical:
When System 1 detects a threat (or opportunity) it recruits system 2 to engage in a formal decision process. Assuming time allows (ie: we are not in an immediate life or death situation), System 2 activates to weigh options, deliberate and come to a decision. When we use System 2 in this manner, we would like to “think” it is under our conscious control and we are exercising free will in our choices.
Problem: This is Not True!
The rub is that the our System 2 decisions are often pre-ordained by System 1 due to the many ruts and judgmental responses that system 1 has developed. These ruts are both instinctual, such as threat avoidance, or develop through our nurturing in our families societies. Dr. Kanheman shows us that our minds work so fast that they will seek shortcuts and to use the least amount of energy. Thus, we fall prey to faulty decisions driven by snap judgments, stereotypes, ignorance and mental laziness.
Ouch – I know that hurts to hear, but none of us is immune to this weird dis-ease!
So, my feeling is that we may as well get to know our minds more intimately and make peace with it as soon as possible – so we can get on with the business of growing and performing at our optimal level.
The main principle driving your subconscious, System 1 mind is a process called “Priming.” Whenever an idea is triggered in the brain (either by direct or indirect experience), the ideas that are associated with it are also ‘primed’ within the brain. The priming effect helps System 1 form a quick impression of any given situation, and to determine whether it calls for added attention or not.
In our next Blog, I will dig into priming and other aspects of our dysfunctional System 1 mind – but until then, pay close attention to tell-tale signs of the next blow-up!