“Ah, Misattribution – I know her well…”
In my limited awareness bubble, misattribution means missing the mark – as in not hitting the bull’s-eye on the target – like, not getting it right. Don’t assume you know what I’m saying. I just want to make sure there’s no jumping to conclusions here!
Whenever I am faced with doubts – which is next to never – I just reach deeper into my bag of hear-say, opinions, and gossip, and immediately feel a swell of confidence come over me. I consider anyone’s best guess potentially factual – when their best guesses are in harmony with MY understanding of the facts, which is, of course, THE proper and correct understanding.
Sometimes I attribute a cause or effect to an event based on a confidence in my expertise on such matters. I seek to convince myself and others that I understand the working dynamics of my world. I believe my understanding of reality accurately represents it.
When I attribute some cause to an effect, I limit the possibilities from an infinite well of creation down to just a few manageable pieces. Reducing complexity down to a manageable sum gives me a sense of control.
Could I be misunderstanding the complex nature of nature?
As I’ve come to better understand the nature of life, I have come to more fully appreciate the fruitlessness of attributing causality to any one thing. Sure, I could be right – maybe some action or event is the direct result of some specific action taken by some specific aspect of my world. Much more likely, though, that event was the result of MANY interrelated aspects – so many that I could not possibly identify them all.
Control comes at a cost – fear.
Every time I feel afraid, I’ve attributed threat to a perception. A perception of threat, however, does not mean I must attribute fear to it. Danger is a perception. Fear is optional.
Fear is a choice that stems from a sense of vulnerability, even the danger of which I may consider a threat to my survival. I tend to resolve the fear-threat equation with action. I presuppose I understand the complex nature of nature well enough that I feel confident in taking action that will affect an outcome in a predictable manner, “When I do or don’t do this, I’ll get or not get that.” I call this action “taking control” or “defending myself” and the result of that action, “being safe” and “being correct/right.”
My fear tends to dissipate as my sense of safety increases. It certainly seems easier to let go of past trauma when life appears less stressful. I misattribute fear to experience due to my ignorance. As I ignorantly attribute fear to more and more perceived dangers, I work harder and harder to create defenses to protect myself from my perceptions. Eventually, I could defend myself from experiencing life altogether.
Education tends to dissolve fear
Fear attached to my perceptions always distorts my perceptions. For example, I experienced a car accident in slow motion because I was afraid in that instance. Now, that I’ve let go of the fear, when I encounter a similar situation while driving, somewhere deep in my psyche a part of me remembers only the accident without the fear.
Fear distorts perception
Releasing fear clears perception
Fear also distorts my attributions. When I feel afraid, I make distorted judgements. I attach fear to an event or person, then seek to justify my fearful judgement, which validates and amplifies my fear. Cause and effect become mired in a sludge of circular thinking.
What can I do about this?
Ah – That’s the subject of our next post…