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 Domestication of My Ego – Part 1

Understanding Ego as a Bubble of Limited Awareness

According to Freud, ego is that aspect of mind that “mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.” (Oxford Dictionary – Ego) Although somewhat vague and esoteric, that definition appears to give my ego a position of power we might challenge.

Just to refresh, that level of awareness Freud called ego is “characterized by comparisons, competition, judgments, defense, blame, and perception of limited resources external to self. Survival-consciousness based on instinct.” (Aha Zone Glossary – Bubble Awareness)

The source of all that “bad juju” – judgments, blame, etc. – can’t be anything but bad, right? A demon! In ME!!!

From the Aha Zone perspective, “ego” appears as a limited conscious experience of life. From that perspective, it’s the originator of a person’s sense of self-esteem,self-importance, and self-worth. There’s some value in that which is useful to that part of me that needs to earn wholeness through value. Maybe it is the good guy!

In the Aha Zone, we define ego as that aspect of mind that views itself as separate from the whole. Through parlor tricks of smoke and mirrors, it seeks to convince the whole of mind that its sensual, emotional, and mental illusions are real. Thus, it supports and defends perception of separation as real and requiring attention.

The paradox is that the ego is, itself, unreal – an artifact of limited awareness. So, why the deception?

Defense is Everything and Nothing

Although I have a tendency to demonize ego – for example, “that’s just ego talking” – that’s just ego talking. The aspect of mind that seeks to convince my entire mind that its perception is the right/only perception, is neither demon nor angel. Instead, one might consider that aspect of mind as simply “busy” at its job. That job is to convince me that I am separate from that which I perceive. It’s an aspect of mind that gets a LOT of practice in my bubble of limited awareness!

Through a process of defense, wholeness experiences limitation while remaining whole. A sense of “separate me” defends itself against perceived threats to its separation. It confirms this sense by defending itself against everything outside itself. Thus, “I” interact with an illusory outside reality that appears to confirm my belief in its separate status. I am separate from my environment because it is separate from me. A self-referential logic error that results in an experience of limited awareness in an infinite sea of awareness.

The Power of Ego

Where does that illusory imagery come from? Evolutionary instinct? Learned behaviors? Chemical interactions in body-mind? Or could it simply be the result of intention? That intention of the whole to experience limitation.

In wholeness is ALL. And, to paraphrase Syndrome, the villain in the first The Incredibles movie, “When everyone’s whole, no one is.” What’s the fun in that?!

Maybe an infinite “I” wants to experience what it’s like to “be” limited. What if the intention of an infinitely powerful me is to experience something finite. To do that without actually being finite would require a device of some sort. That device would have to be “make believe”. Hmm, sounds a lot like ego to me.

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?

How Intention, Choice, and Bias Resolve Life’s Ambiguity

In order to initiate a conscious choice, I must perceive two or more options relating to the concept under consideration. My life presents me a menu of options. Bias narrows the options from which I may choose. I compare those options to determine how well they might work to confirm my bias.

In my comparative world of limited awareness, life is ambiguous. It’s not 100% clear whether I’ll live or die in any moment. It’s unclear who I am. I must clarify myself to myself. I work my whole life to disambiguate the paradox of the life I live. Bias is one way I seek to clarify this ambiguous situation.

I’m unambiguous about my intention to live. So, I favor all that confirms that intention and fear alternatives. I make choices based on this intentional and fundamental bias. Thus, I resolve life’s greatest paradox – that I am ambiguous, being one and separate, for and against.

Intention

The intention to survive underlies all intentions. A default program ensures I make a preselected biased choice – both for and against. It’s paradoxical. Biases defend the underlying intention to survive, in which I’m:

  • against what threatens the underlying intention.
  • in favor of what benefits the underlying intention.

In this environment of bias, I’m seeking to disambiguate while defending a paradox. I do this by choosing for and against what affects my intention to survive. Thus, increasing the ambiguity I’m seeking to decrease.

Fear and Bias

My fears are an effort to defend myself for being right and against being wrong. Two sides of the same coin. Fear of being wrong plays an influential role in my ability to make a clear choice.

If my choice results in survival, my commitment to its rightness abates fear. When I realize I’ve survived well, my commitment solidifies into a bias that rules over my life. The paradox is that increased defense of what’s right increases fear of its alternatives.

About Choices

Questioning my bubble of limited awareness challenges my perception of survival. Denial is the default program that defends my biases and resists change.

It seems like I’m choosing all the time. Choosing only concepts that support my biases, is not choice – it’s confirmation bias in action. Once I’ve made a choice, I cannot change it while in defense of it. Bias is how I automate the process.

Conscious living may be more about challenging my reasons for making choices than blindly following them.

My Roller Coaster of Choice Predictability

Sometimes my life feels like a roller coaster. A paradoxical ride through the ups, downs, twists and turns of conflicting choices. Based on the certitude of my choices and their outcomes, I create a dependency equation. I apply the same equation, choice + defense = predictability, to every outcome.

I believe that predictable defenses mean predictable choices that result in predictable outcomes. Ambiguity develops as my dependence on specific outcomes from specific choices wavers. This challenges my defense and so affects my choices and outcomes.

Certitude and Rigidity

This kind of thinking can lead to a sense of certitude that leads to rigid thinking. This makes manifesting intended outcomes much more difficult and unpredictable. What if ambiguity invites questions about the certitude of my predictability formula?

Because I’d rather be right than accurate, I have an inclination to remember past events as being predictable at the time. In other words I reconcile differences in expected and actual outcomes by justifying results with false memories. This keeps my certitude in place regardless of outcomes.

A difference between expected and actual outcomes occurs because I am not in the same frame of mind when making a choice as when perceiving the outcome of that choice. So, to deal with the paradox, I lie to myself by revising my memory to justify what I perceive and feel now.

Predictability and Fear

This makes future outcomes seem much more predictable and choices more reliable than they actually are. It’s a useful thinking error when applied to confidence building. Not so useful when applied to medical procedures where overconfidence can lead to malpractice, for example.

When I feel conflict in yet-to-be-made choices rising within me, I may feel fear over that unpredictability. To calm my fear, I look to predictability of past choices made that I defend with my support and loyalty today.

Am I tall enough to ride this ride?