Metaphor, a Problem-Solving Paradox

Metaphor takes perception of reality and twists it into a problem-solving paradox. The literal view seeks to defend its perspective as truth – using memory, facts, and logic to resolve paradox. The figurative view seeks to apply meaning to the literal view through metaphor, using imagination and possibility to resolve paradox. Together they seek a resolution to a fundamental problem – life.

Did You Catch the Paradox in the Metaphor?

The choice we suggest as metaphor-thinking operates best as a paradoxical view we experience with others in relationships. Thus, I understand me in a metaphor of my perception of you in relation to me. This is made all the more paradoxical when I act on my belief that you and I are literally separate.

Consider how difficult it is to see one’s own face without looking at its reflection. One would have no idea what their face looks like. With a reflective surface, sufficient light, and a properly working visual sense, and awareness of self, however, I can see a reflection that, although not me, presents a metaphor that I think represents me. Do you see the paradox in your reflection?

Even though I hear your voice doesn’t mean I hear your words. Just because I hear your words doesn’t mean I understand their meaning. Even when I hear your words and understand their meaning doesn’t mean I understand your concept. Sometimes I want an example to help me get to the meaning of a concept. That example is not the concept – it is a metaphor to help me understand the concept in an alternative form. Do you hear the paradox in these words?

What If Metaphor Presents a Problem-Solving Paradox?

Living in a problem-solving mind creates a paradox that connects solutions to problems through justification. Justifying the solution is a problem because it defends one against alternative solutions. The defense focuses attention on only one option rather than to search for alternatives. Once justified, this solution presents a mental scotoma – a problem that mind has difficulty resolving through ever-limiting repetition.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” (Albert Einstein)

This sets up a self-referential paradox in which problems justify solutions that justify problems. As the paradox expands, it further limits the range of awareness. This limits my realization of me as both me and not me.

Reinterpreting what I defend as a solution can’t be done – due to its defense of problem and solution. Sounds like a catch-22 situation. Oh, no! Not another PROBLEM!!!

This makes metaphor inevitable and necessary.

When I consider, “This is not as it appears,” I open my conscious awareness to metaphoric interpretation. And loosen the grip of my narrow focus on literal interpretation.

Did you catch the metaphor in the paradox?

 

Embrace Distraction to Awaken Inspiration

What if distraction is a useful characteristic of mind? I have the ability to be distracted – comes to me via evolution. Evolution favors that which is useful over that which is not. Just because I think it’s not useful doesn’t make it so. I ask again, “What if distraction is a useful characteristic of mind?”

What would make me believe that I’m actually creating a distraction? If I were to realize my creation, might I then put it to use? What would happen when I change my perspective about the way I think about distractions? Might I be able to utilize my ability to be distracted by asking, “What did I create this distraction for?” (seeks purpose). How might I utilize the distraction?

Perhaps I can use distraction to:

  • Sharpen my mind
  • Redirect attention
  • Help me identify hidden needs
  • Find new information
  • Get inspired

Where is inspiration and innovation?

Usually in the distraction zone. A distraction often involves a break in attention from a hypnotic state. Sometimes that seems like a break from something important to something less important – “Oh, look, a birdie!” How do I know what’s most important in this instant?

“Pay attention!” Perhaps a distraction is an attempt of mind to understand from another perspective. My limited awareness state of mind works in associations – this related to that. Because of that characteristic of mind, I wonder how all distractions are related. What is a distraction telling me? That everything is related, even those, like the birdie, that seem completely unrelated. I can use that to help me understand who I am.

Could a distraction be an opportunity? Inspiration rarely resides in strong narrow focus. One might say inspiration resides in the blink rather than the stare. The blink offers a distraction from the stare – an opportunity for new vision.

So, embrace the distraction! Maybe in it, you’ll find a new focus.

An Insight into Solving the Problem of Resistance

Intentions indicate a sense of lack. A sense of purpose arises to fill that lack. For example, I breathe to satisfy a sense of lack of oxygen.

I seek to satisfy physical and psychological needs by solving problems. That means asking questions that lead to solving those problems.

When I become aware of a problem, I must solve it with a change. That’s a problem because I resist change.

How do I solve the problem of resistance? That resistance is a state of mind and states of mind can change. A state of mind break might be useful.

Breaking focus from a defensive state of mind to a more resourceful state of mind involves a simple change of attention. For example, when I’m focused on a problem and resist its solution, I might use an insightful question to break the resistant state of mind, “What do you want?” Or I might yell, “Snap out of it!” in my mind. Or, I may engage in some unrelated activity, like walking, redirecting focus, or asking an unrelated question.

Solving the Resistance Problem

With awareness of my defensiveness, I might follow-up with some self-awareness questions:

“What do you need?”
“How might the information I’m resisting be useful to me?”
“What else could this mean than what I think it means?”
“Why am I resisting this?”
“Who am I?”

These questions may bring about awareness that stops the resistant response.

In the process of solving the problem of a resistant state of mind, the discomfort of resistance can awaken awareness. Once activated, awareness is an opportunity for insightful understanding. Awareness questions experience. When I question my experiences, I bring clarity of understanding to them.

Let’s look at some examples of how I might use clarity to solve the problem of resistance.

Problem – Solution:
Fear – Pause from present actions and intention to investigate purpose, refocus, and ground.
Certitude – Question present resistance with, “Is it true?” “Can I know it’s true?”
Stress – Calmness
Stuck thinking – Consider alternatives, “What else could this be/mean?”
Inattention – Check my intention, “What do I want?”

In doing the above, I’m taking a shortcut to problem solving. In this case, the problem is resistance, the solution is understanding.

Change and My Need for Permanence

I like to think that if something is true it never changes – it’s permanent. I try to make my beliefs permanent by defending them against change, thereby making them true.

I intend for my truths to be so well defended that they are beyond question, even from me. Questioning my beliefs would be equivalent to attacking what’s right and good, permanent and therefore true.

Certainty of my truths defends the intention to put them beyond question. That certainty is like a dam that I build for my rightness against the flow of change. Thus, certainty makes my intention appear permanent – just like truth!

What About Resistance?

I define the non-disturbed state of no movement as permanence. And the disturbed state of movement as change. Each state serves the other through the contrast inherent in their complementary differences. I experience existence in the relationship between the two states.

Perhaps the resistance in those interactions serve as proof of permanence and change. Thus, change serves permanence and visa versa resulting in a reckoning of time. The tic-toc of permanence and change, cause and effect, disturbed and non-disturbed states evidences this relationship.

What about Psychological Permanence and Change?

Who am I in relation to my psychological environment?

That which I resist tends to exist. Change involves breaking down resistance, which my need for permanence rejects. I attend to what I resist in order to conform it to fit my beliefs. Once I do, I let go of my attention to it. That frees my attention to move on to other problems I need to solve.

Here then is choice – to embrace change and permanence through their defense. When I choose one, I also choose its complement – thus, the “and” bit. I defend one option with active attention, I defend its complement with passive attention in denial.

I give equal value to their defense as benefit or threat. Arguments for and against compete for my attention. Thus, choice validates the conceptual separation between permanence and change. Of course, what I believe is choice may instead be a defense of value. Value defends my belief in competition in the context of my own survival competence.

In limited awareness, I’m never in possession of all the facts. Every choice, therefore, includes some element of assumption not based in fact. For example I choose this because it appears to be more permanent than that. I must see competitors as competitors in order to make a choice. I compete for and against truth as I perceive it competes with me. We’re both competitors!

Perhaps truth is relative to the value I assign to my concept of self: How valuable am I?

Certainty as A Mental Shortcut in Limited Awareness

Because of certainty, I feel I can predict my experiences. The more certain I feel about who I am, the more confident I feel in predicting who I will be. Certainty is a sense of knowing so strong, I won’t question it. That makes certainty a top-flight mental defense against change – and an energy saving shortcut.

Mental Shortcuts

In my perceptual bubble of limited awareness, some aspect of me believes I am limited. Because I believe in limitation, I have needs. I perceive those needs as problems requiring my attention to solve. Movement of attention from problem-solution-problem-solution results in experiences of defending my life. Need fulfillment appears as living life. Life must be defended to be lived.

This belief in limitation causes me to seek out ways to best use the finite resources I believe I have to survive and thrive. This results in the use of shortcuts to conserve life-force energy.

Mental shortcuts are rule-of-thumb strategies that help me use less mental effort to solve problems. This is especially important in need fulfillment – where I need every ounce of limited energy in order to live. Instinct is an example of a mental shortcut because we expend so little mental energy before initiating an instinctive behavior. This helps us use the least energy to survive.

That because, in certainty, I assume I already have sufficient information about how to accomplish need fulfillment. This assumption is perceived as quicker and more efficient because it bypasses the questions, research, or more attention that involves more time and effort.

This shortcut appears in unquestionable knowings like assumptions and biases. For the most part, I’m unaware of these. Like instinct, I act on my previously programmed thought process!

I become dependent upon mental concepts I feel certain of. I invest trust in them and, so may become more defensive of them. In my certainty, I may even assume I’ve not made the presumption of truth. Instead, I’m defending what I know is right! Done!

Up and Downsides

The downside to shortcuts is the manifestation of artifacts that appear as thinking and perceptual errors. Built-in mistake maker – and defender!

I use a forced perspective to interpret feedback to fit my assumptions, which I then defend as truths. Thus, I am able to achieve a kind of self-convinced ability to accurately predict my experiences. And block out anything else.

With focused practice and disciplined choices, my mind can build enough trust to predict my life with absolute certainty. That fulfills my need to be right – successful at survival.

And SO…

Unlimited consciousness in limited awareness sets up a bubble of defense in order to experience a sense of separation it cannot be. More defense further limits awareness. Thus, increasing the sense of separation. Certainty, therefore, serves unlimited consciousness by limiting awareness to provide a sense of separation.

Surprise! We’re competing and defending on purpose! I’m certain of it!

Resources:

Kendra Cherry, MS. Heuristics and Cognitive Biases. Verywellmind.com. Updated Nov 13, 2018.