How I Communicate in Symbolic Metaphor

I presuppose that I always communicate. Some of that is overt communication – like auditory speech and body language. Some is covert – like hidden agendas and motives.

Living beings communicate in symbols that represent ideas. Those covert symbolic representations may not be shared or understood between any one or more communicators. Because of that miscommunication, misunderstanding is common.

Every form of life communicates. In its actions and very being, each is itself a symbolic representation – a metaphor. That metaphor communicates validation of existence. Conscious awareness acknowledges existence of one compared to another. For example, I acknowledge my existence in comparison to all that is not me. Thus, this determines benefit or threat to myself.

How We Communicate in Metaphor

Comparing and determining benefit or threat allows me to know how to interact with my environment.

In every metaphor there is an explicit story with an implicit meaning. Metaphor provides opportunity for alternative meanings, comprehension, and value. Like the dollar bill that has virtually no value in and of itself – it’s just a piece of paper! That is, until two or more agree on a value for it in trade. So, that’s a metaphor – the foundation of overt and covert communication.

Dollar bill: Overt – a piece of paper. Covert – its agreed upon value in trade. Thus, application of meaning turns explicit into implicit – through symbolism.

Let’s look at the instinct to live. Avoidance of ending life produces an emotion, fear, that motivates certain behaviors. Thus, an overt behavior connects to a covert emotion. One might look at the overt behavior and comprehend the connection – only IF they presuppose the metaphor.

In many cases, the connection between overt and covert uses the word, “because…” For example, “I raised my voice because… I felt threatened.” The raised voice is a metaphor for how I felt. You heard the raised voice in my overt communication. You might connect that overt communication with a covert emotion and thus, understand the symbolism.

My Expression Tool Kit

I have a tool kit for expressing myself. By observing my behavior, you can learn a lot about who I think I am. And how I see my world. Thus, my overt behavior expresses my inner covert beliefs.

From my senses to my good sense, those tools are symbolic expressions of my identity. That tool kit expresses overt behaviors based on a covert ability to:

  • Survive on instinct:
    • Breathe
    • Wake/Sleep
    • Seek, consume, and process nourishment, and eliminate waste
    • Seek shelter or safety, and avoid threats
    • Respond to stimuli
    • Communicate
    • Desire to defend my and others’ lives
    • Reproduce
    • Heal, grow, and adapt
    • Innate drive to seek pleasure and avoid pain
  • Experience through my senses, my thoughts, my feelings and my body .
  • Sense fairness, equality, inequality
  • Judge the difference between: right and wrong, justice and mercy, cruelty, kindness, and indifference.
  • Learn to live by rules, principles and laws – cooperate with others.
  • Think for myself, doubt, question, answer, and interact with my environment.
  • Apply beliefs, biases, prejudices, forgiveness, non-judgement.
  • Mimic and counter my environment.
  • Communicate through various mediums like, voice, body language, and etc.
  • Understand, teach, learn, inspire, confuse, deny, acknowledge, agree and disagree.
  • Interpret, assume, presuppose, take advantage, use, waste, exploit.
  • Compare, compete, cooperate.
  • Feel pain, pleasure, fear and other emotions.
  • Harm others and myself.
  • Practice the 7 deadly sins:
    • Lust
    • Gluttony
    • Greed
    • Sloth
    • Wrath
    • Envy
    • Pride
  • Pretend, role-play, fantasize, entertain and be entertained.
  • Connect with other kinds of communication which I can then share.
  • Trust my environment to sustain my body and mind.
  • Choose, defend, take apart, put together, build, destroy.
  • Resist, accept, innovate, support myself and my  environment.
  • Move, be still, explore, change, and create.
  • Dream and imagine.
  • Comprehend symbols, apply meaning, and assess values.

I can’t NOT do any of the above!

Conclusion

Thus – I cannot express in only overt OR covert. I communicate who I am using both. Communication requires an overt expression with a covert meaning. As I come to understand my own expressions, I can learn to understand those of others as metaphors of ME.

Therefore, what I perceive must be a metaphor for who I am.

Threat and the Overkill Response

Consider what we think of as reactions to threat – fight, flight, or freeze.  Now consider a word I think conveys a fourth option – “Overkill.” In bubble awareness, each of these implies an intention to remove a threat with an action. That action provides me a sense of control to mitigate the fear:

  1. Fight – intention to confront a threat.
  2. Flight – intention to escape a threat.
  3. Freeze – intention to avoid a threat.
  4. Overkill – intention to destroy a threat.

Each of the above appears totally justifiable by the one perceiving the threat in that moment. Not necessarily when viewed from outside that perception.

Let’s look at some examples of logic overkill. This represents an over- compensation response to threat. It appears reasonable from the perspective of the one applying the logic. Excessive from outside that perspective. From the overkill perspective, actions taken may not be or ever be enough, yet are totally justifiable. Remember, these are responses to fear:

  • Striking someone to get a point across.
  • If one piece of cake is good, two even better, then more…
  • If I go on a diet, I’ll have to starve.
  • I know I can’t make the rent this month, but I gotta buy this…
  • I’m not good enough, so this behavior tries to compensate for it.
  • Temper tantrums, bullying, showing off, bragging.
  • Winning an argument at any expense.
  • Gossip, spreading rumors, fault-finding, fear-mongering.
  • Flaunting wealth, education level, physical strength, social position, authority.
  • Hoarding.
  • Drug, child, animal abuse.
  • Murder, genocide, prejudice and bias.
  • Self-importance, self-deprivation.
  • Wishful and magical thinking.
  • Poverty consciousness.
  • Revenge, back-stabbing, and other passive aggressive behaviors.

When is enough enough? Timing plays a huge role in knowing when to stop.

How Fear Turns Appropriate Into Inappropriate Action.

My body has two action channels: sympathetic (GO!) and parasympathetic (WHOA!). I use a combination of the two in every perception and action I take. The balance I justify between GO and WHOA determines my judgment of the appropriateness of my actions. This is completely independent of facts, objective measurement, or rational thought.

What might happen when fear causes my GO-WHOA equation to jump into overdrive? At some point, enough GO or WHOA results in overkill. Where is that point? Personally, I’d not like to test that boundary. Instead, I’d rather stay far closer to the neutral balance point. Angry not to the point of enraged. Desirous not to the point of neediness or theft. Etc.

Social Overkill Algorithms

Agreement about a threat can foster swarm or mob mentality that can lead to overkill like genocide. Basically, add sufficient fear to the mix and just about any relationship can devolve into overkill behaviors.

Some computer hackers use social engineering to entice someone to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do – like click a dangerous link. Such social algorithms cause people to do hurtful things they would not ordinarily do. Add societal prejudices to the mix and the chemistry of mass fear will inevitably drive an excessive response.

Prejudice is an example of fear on automatic.

Sometimes that can lead to overkill – when societal fear rises to sufficient levels. One sees examples in the near-extermination of Native Americans in the 17th-19th Century and the Japanese-American internment program during WWII. Many examples exist that reveal the danger and damage of societal overkill.

On a personal level, this societal phenomena shows itself in my rage against opposing political personalities, parties and policies. At some point, I could be persuaded to take extreme action against them or their supporters – overkill.

That is, unless I use my language and/or emotional energy as a cue to question my beliefs. For example, I might think or say, “They always do that!” (referring to something I don’t like). I might question, “They?” and “Always?” That is, can I identify specific individuals or actions I don’t like? And, can I think of an exception to the “always” claim?

Questioning generalizations can sometimes stem the tide before it gets started. A simple question may be all it takes to avoid potential overkill. When enough isn’t enough, I might ask a useful question:

  1. What do I want?
  2. How can I get what I want?
  3. Why this in particular?
  4. Who am I?

Challenging The Non Sequitur Fallacy

A non sequitur is a fallacious statement of logic. Basically, non sequitur logic follows the format, because this, then that – where this and that are unrelated or disconnected. Yet, appear to me to be related.

Consider that your mind tries to make sense out of everything. When faced with a situation or event, my mind tries to connect data dots into logical conclusions.

When a situation is inexplicable or when faced with insufficient data, my mind does its best. It tries to connect whatever dots it can find – and makes up the rest to suit my appetite for justification. This can result in false equations I defend.

Below are some examples of non sequitur equations. They follow the format, “Just because [ fact/perception ], it doesn’t necessarily follow that [ conclusion ].” These often use “so” or “therefore” to connect one or more questionable facts to one or more questionable conclusions. These may look familiar:

  • I can/am, so I should.
  • You agree with me, so I must be right.
  • I feel afraid because it’s dangerous.
  • I know it, so it must be true.
  • You’re going a different direction than me, so you must be lost.
  • Something didn’t work out as I expected, so I must have failed.
  • We disagree, so you must be wrong.
  • I lost, so I must be a loser.
  • You did something I don’t like, so you must not love me.
  • I can’t find a solution, therefore no one can.
  • I like it, so it must be good/right for me.
  • Because I think I understand/comprehend something, I must [understand/comprehend].
  • It has always been that way, so it must continue that way.
  • Because what you did hurt me, you must have intended to hurt me.

Non sequiturs are sometimes logic level leaps between BE, DO, and HAVE. For example, one might leap from DO to BE, DO to HAVE, or HAVE to BE, and etc. That is, one part of the non sequitur connects one logical level to another. For example, a DO logical level connects to a BE logical level in, “I failed to DO something, therefore, I must BE an idiot! ”

To challenge a non sequitur, one might challenge its premise or conclusion, “Is it true?” and, “What if my fact/conclusion is not true?” I might inquire into presuppositions with questions like, “What would a person have to believe in order to connect those facts with that conclusion?”

Non sequiturs can be useful once exposed. That is, I can play with my associations to bust up false, hurtful, or useless ones.

For example, connecting DO to BE in the equation, “I failed my science test, so I must be a failure,” is a non sequitur. It’s also a false equation. Just because I failed a test doesn’t necessarily equate to I’m a failure. I could just require more study time or a different understanding of the subject.

Because my mind has the false equation, I’ll continue to prove failure even where there is no or refuting evidence. Eventually, I so believe I really am a failure that I seek out or make up “evidence” to prove it. “See! I was right! I AM a failure!” Thus, a non sequitur proves a confirmation bias.

What if I assume that one or both aspects of my non sequitur equation are untrue or incorrect? Assuming my facts are untrue means my conclusions are suspect. Assuming my conclusion is false means my facts could be suspect, too. In either or both cases, I’m challenging my non sequitur. Thereby offering myself new possibilities, new perspectives, and new opportunities.

That can be quite useful, indeed.

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.

The Messages of My Biases

In my bubble of limited awareness, I defend what I value. I value most what makes me right. My being right equates to survival. Thus, I must invest in confirming my rightness to confirm my ability to survive. Confirmation of rightness gives me a sense of satisfaction.

My need to be right is a bit of an addiction that affirms my sense of having value. With every confirmation of rightness, my sense of personal value increases, bringing me closer to my goal of wholeness.

I feel I must win or at least not lose. Bias lives by this gain/loss formula. I have a sense that I was born with bias because I need to feel success rather than failure. I set up a system for myself to “guarantee” success. This is like the guy who has a “fail-safe system” for beating the odds at the casino. That system is bias, a program that helps me cope with separateness.

My bias regulates my thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. When I have a rebellious thought, bias regulates me back into the safety of compliance with what is right. This is how bias serves a system of defense that favors the status quo. Thus, keeping me safe in my bubble of limited awareness.

A Conflict of Bias

For every argument, there are opposing biases. Because a bias is a bi-directional defense, there is that which it defends and that which it defends against. Therefore, a conflict exists between for and against. Bias illustrates a more fundamental perception in my limited awareness – that of me vs not me. This extends beyond my perception of me – in my social constructs.

For example, I want to support my society by contributing to its general benefit. My investment would include surrendering independence to the service of society and its relative safety. In this I feel a conflict. Why can’t I have independence AND safety?

This raises a question about my value system of loss/gain. Why do I have to give up something to get something? This haunts my relationship as an investor – because I must attend to the conflict of me vs not me.

Questioning Bias to Discover Its Message

I might question myself to discover my self-limiting biases and what messages they may have for me:

  • What society do I serve?
  • How do I serve?
  • Why do I serve?
  • Who do I serve?