Agreement, Problem Solving, and My Life Story

My first engagement into my life – my life story – is to see a problem that needs a solution. Problem solving orders chaos into meaningful equations, like cause->effect, entropy->order, separation->wholeness, etc.

Imagine a perfect world and that you know how that perfection should appear. Now, compare that perfect world to the one you’re experiencing. That is the world of should – a problem  needing a solution, a story of comparisons to an imagined standard of perfection. Why does my world differ from the standard of perfection? Is that difference a problem that can be solved? As long as I view it as a problem, I’m driven to solve it – by living it!

Houston, We Have a Problem-Solving Problem!

To solve the problem of the should world, I link problems I create with solutions I create. This creates a coherent story that seeks to solve the why problem – why am I conscious?

Is my life story an awareness of what my Dad used to call, “one damn problem after another?”

Houston: Agreed! You Have a Problem!

Agreement is one tool I use to solve the problems inherent in my imagined world. Basically, an agreement works for me when it satisfies my need to be right. To fit agreement into my world of perfection, I standardize it!

A standard of agreement determines social understanding that makes judgments acceptable to those that agree. Agreement amplifies my trust in the perfection I’ve imagined. This builds a perception of trustworthiness into a social structure as a sense of predictability. I believe my perceptions are real because I can make and prove predictions.

Who I believe I am is the result of identifying with judgments supported by agreements. This is how I view myself as my job, my community, and my level of agreement. “I am a doctor, an American, the president of my organization” for example.

Agreement seeks to solve a fundamental problem of reality – Who am I?

Problem Solving, Predictions, and the Lack Cycle

Resistance is the basis of perceivable phenomena I believe to be reality. My senses provide feedback in the form of resistance that validates an environment of lack. When I experience resistance, I validate a reality of defense. In that defense, I feel a need to fulfill a lack. To the degree I validate lack, I validate its fulfillment – problem solving gives me a sense of purpose.

When I perceive resistance, I’m working to resolve it as a problem with a solution. Emotion adds motivation to my purpose to solve the problems I perceive.

Because I perceive lack as a problem needing a solution, I work towards a sense of fulfillment. Because I’m always lacking, I can never achieve complete fulfillment no matter how much I want or need it. A sense of fulfillment is as close as I can ever get to completion.

One might say I need to solve the problem of lack in order to continue as a living entity that changes – evolves over time. Perception of change could be thought of as evidence of perception of lack in search of completion. One might think of evolution in terms of lack never completely satisfied!

When I deny that lack exists, I acknowledge it. Consider that the defense I use to prove lack as an illusion proves its reality. Thus, I create a dualistic view of my life as a cycle of need and fulfillment while denying lack’s existence… and yet my denial makes it so.

Problem Solving and the Lack Cycle

Problem solving is a process of identification matched to a program that results in an outcome. That outcome is subject to the process that created it. Thus, lack, as a problem to be solved, connects to a program that results in an outcome. That outcome is, itself, a potential problem with a potential solution. That’s the lack cycle.

There’s a measure of predictability in cycles. In a cycle of need and fulfillment, I defend my predictions with a sense of confidence. So much so, that I’ll apply an inordinate amount of confidence to less probable predictions and feel right about it.

Predictability, when accurate enough, can build confidence in knowing what to do and when to do it. When my confidence is strong enough it won’t matter the outcome, I’ll believe I’m right regardless.

I predict solutions to future lack of confidence before it becomes a present threat. I see that projection of confidence as a useful tool in the present to offset my doubt about the future.

Problem-solving, making predictions, and exercising the lack cycle represent one method of expressing separation from wholeness.

This raises a question – Is there another way to perceive lack? And raises an awareness – Maybe it’s not a problem, it’s a feature!

Permanence and My Need for Security

From ancient monuments to the golden record on the Voyager probe, mankind has sought to create a permanent record of itself. In my limited awareness bubble, I feel a need for permanence for those things I like (me, my immediate family, my dear friends, etc.). I’m maybe not as hot about permanence for things I don’t like.

Perpetual motion machines, age regression creams, life extension products, immortality – all attempts at providing evidence of a magical elixir called permanence. And yet, we know permanence is impossible. Nothing can remain unchanged indefinitely.

Change vs Permanence

I feel I can’t change that which I believe is unchangeable. That sense of endless invariability can make me feel as insecure as that which changes in an inconsistent way. Maybe I need some change and some permanence.

Perhaps my sense of rightness arises from my need to feel secure. When I make a prediction, I may feel right about my understanding when a result occurs that I feel defends the prediction. This builds a sense of dependence upon my understandings. What I depend on, I defend as truth. Thus, and in many other ways, I seek to make my truth the truth – a permanent feature of the universe. As a result, I feel more secure.

For example, I depend upon the sun. I feel secure knowing the sun will rise in the morning. It’s also proof that I survived the night. That sense of rightness about the sun’s cycle may give me a sense of permanence to something I depend on. Since I feel a need to survive, my predictions about the cycles of the sun can give me a sense of security.

Thus, I derive a sense of:
Predictability <=> Rightness <=> Security <=> Permanence

Defense of my sense of rightness may be based on my need for security. In search of something I can count on, rightness seems to fill the bill. At some level of rightness, certainty satisfies my need for security. Certainty can feel like without being permanence, which may explain why I tend to prefer it over doubt. And yet, doubt may be the doorway to real understanding.

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!


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

A New Perspective on Mystical Thinking

Mystical thinking combines the rational with the irrational to create a convincing story about life. To explore this phenomenon, let’s consider these two aspects of mind – rational and irrational.

  • The rational mind thinks in terms of certainty, probability, and knowledge.
  • The irrational mind thinks in terms of uncertainty, possibilities, and assumption.

Each mind competes and defends itself in its relationship with the other. This adversarial relationship results in an experience I perceive as my life. A life in which I compete and defend.

A New Thought Process

My life experience could be considered mystical because it is simultaneously and wholly rational and irrational. Explainable and inexplicable. Separate and whole.

Within this mystical life experience lay a vast territory available to me by virtue of my capacity to imagine and make choices.

Mystical thinking is the result of these two aspects of mind coming together to defend a single reality. For example, one might apply an imagined irrational attribute like “scary” to a rational physical thing, like a tree – to create a “scary tree.”

Mystical thinking includes that which has a “meaning or reality that is neither apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence.” (Merriam-Webster)

How does one defend the indefensible?

Practical Interactions with Mystical Thinking

What happened when the first human came across the giant fossilized bones of a dinosaur? They probably wondered what kind of animal has stone bones and of such a huge size. Perhaps they made up a story to justify and fit their giant find into the cultural understandings. That is, they sought to fit the evidence of giant creatures into their social storyline where there were no giants. They created mystic stories of impossible creatures and places where these stone-boned creatures must exist. For example, the ancient Greek myth in which all who laid eyes on the Medusa were turned to stone.

What do I do when faced with an unexplained aspect of my life story? How do I justify living in a dimension of rational and irrational experience? Perhaps the first thing I might do is adjust the evidence to conform to my perspective of reality. Then I’ll defend that belief. With mystical thinking, I can adjust the story to fit the evidence and/or adjust the evidence to fit the story. It’s a much more flexible way to think.

It’s a way to fit the unexplained into the context of a previously explained story. Thus, saving energy and making the story more interesting in the process! I can use a sense of mysticism to make sense of a world I may be incapable of understanding – now.

Some Benefits

Perhaps one benefit of mystical thinking is to bridge the limits of my logic to include the illogical. Like use of symbolism, art appreciation, and application of various beliefs without the necessity of empirical evidence. In this type of thinking, explanations need only make sense to the observer to be logical to the observer.

In this way, I can settle for a sense of wholeness when I perceive I don’t have it. Mystical thinking is my way of rationally compensating for the irrational thought that I am not already whole.