Patterns – it’s the stuff of life. I don’t perceive reality – I literally create it with assumptions – based on my perception of patterns. I assume a pattern as soon as I “guess” that one exists. After that, I tend to “fill in the blanks” rather than test my hypothesis (my “guess”).
To illustrate my point, consider the following:
1, 2, 3…
Can you predict the next number? Of course you can. You assume it is 4. That’s because you perceive a familiar pattern. But, what if it is not 4. What if it is 5 instead? Is the pattern broken? Maybe – unless you can perceive a new pattern, you will not be able to predict the next or the next number.
Prediction is how we survived on the plains a million years ago when we were considered food by many of the then existing fauna. Correct predictions brought about survival. Incorrect predictions often brought about death. Over the course of eons of evolution, prediction has become so ingrained in humans as to make it invisible to us.
I anticipate based on patterns – which helps me avoid surprises and prepare myself for future probable events.
Although possessing a native pattern recognition capability, it sometimes fails me – particularly when a bias emerges and distorts my prediction due to my failure to consider present evidence.
I like to be right – vehemently defending my perception as THE perception – the truth. Once I’ve recognized a pattern, I tend to back up my recognition with supportive evidence and avoid or ignore evidence to the contrary (Confirmation Bias) – anything to validate my rightness. Then I act accordingly.
Pattern Recognition and Rationalization
One interesting human characteristic is the need to save face. I’m willing to go to some extraordinary lengths to avoid embarrassment, exposure, and humiliation. When I fail to correctly recognize a pattern in my life – like when I jumped to an incorrect conclusion and perceived someone as being angry with me when they were not, for example – I immediately go to work to keep myself from losing face in the eyes of others. It’s called rationalization or excuse making – patterns of avoidance – I use to escape accountability and awakening.
My generalized rationalization goes something like this: “I can’t help it! How can I beat 2 million years of human evolution? It’s in my DNA for pity’s sake!”
Beating My Rationalization with A New Pattern
Pattern recognition is not a thinking error. It is a necessary “feature” of living organisms on this planet. To survive, I need the capability to recognize patterns – particularly those that might destroy me. My insistence upon being right about my particular version of that feature, however, occasionally puts me in an uncomfortable position.
Jumping to conclusions, assuming the worst, supposing, believing rumors, presuming, expecting, taking for granted, and etc., are all ways I impose rationalization on pattern recognition. These and other thinking errors tend to tangle recognition with psychological need in a pretty messy life experience over which I feel less and less control.
It seems to me one way through my prediction quagmire is use of the scientific method. In particular, I might question my assumptions, doubt my conclusions, and reconsider anything I feel certain about.
To keep logical levels and dimensions within their boundaries, I might do as carpenters do when they “measure twice, cut once” –
Consider mindfully, then reconsider, then act decisively!