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. Verywellmind.com. 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.

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.

Relationship between Possession and Lack

“He who dies with the most toys wins,” has driven my world-view for much of my life. That’s because I grew up in a society based on possession. In that view, I see ownership as a characteristic of abundance and the solution to lack.

In my society, we’ve collectively chosen to view lack as public enemy number one. We’ve expended a lot of energy and resources to its eradication. In the process, our consumerism is rapidly depleting the resources of the planet.

Lack is a perception and concept. In its basic form, lack is a comparison value judgment. Possession is one way I seek to mediate the sense of lack. Still, no matter how much stuff I possess, I can still feel lack. Though there seems to be a relationship between possession and lack, that relationship may be an apparition.

Why do I perceive lack as the enemy?

I need a concept to counter wholeness in order to realize my intention to achieve it. This is a basic tenant of duality – separation from oneness. For every “this” I need a “not this” against which I can measure in order to perceive it.

How could I appreciate wholeness unless I conceive of its complement against which I can measure it?

You could say, I need lack in order to appreciate wholeness. Far from being the enemy, lack may instead be my friend. Appreciation of lack in the form of gratitude for everything that I perceive short of wholeness may be the only appropriate response to lack.

Possession does not cure lack. Nor does it equate to wholeness. Possession is merely a human contrivance that helps us order and defend societies. Without society, possession is pointless. Ultimately, upon death, I must release all interest in all possessions. I don’t even possess my own body.

I am having an experience of time and space – the result of my belief in it. I possess nothing in this world because there is nothing to possess. I experience it as I believe it.

Imagine that!

Predictions and Patterns as Evidence of Defense

Patterns are created through repetition and repeat as programs. The more predictable life seems, the greater the evidence that a program is depended upon. The more formulaic a program, the more certain my sense of safety and accuracy is for my daily life. Instinct is one such program. The more I can predict things, however, the less creative is my mind.

In limited awareness, I experience fear as the main support of my need for certainty. When I’m in fear, I seek to replace the unpredictable with certitude. In an odd twist of mind, I’d rather entertain a certain outcome than consider an uncertain one. For example, I tend to feel better with a diagnosis, even when I don’t like  it, rather than continue to imagine what it might be.

Patterns as Defense

Making predictions assumes knowing a past pattern well enough to defend it into the future. How much I need that prediction to come true affects my defense of it. My prediction allows me to prepare an automatic response as defense to a threat. Thus, I don’t jeopardize my life by analyzing potential danger without knowing the patterns.

I can’t even recognize a threat from a benefit without comparing its pattern to a pattern I already know. That association affects both prediction and memory. Thus, I can’t with 100% certainty say that I understand or know a pattern. Even though I feel certain and confident of my rightness about it. A perfect setup for defense.

What if pattern recognition is an aspect of defense? Confirmation bias! One aspect of that defense remembers with prejudice what works and doesn’t. This is the essence and evidence of learning. I project that as a pattern into the future AND the past as a biased basis for comparison. This bias affects perceptions, responses, predictions, and outcomes.

Pattern recognition makes predictability possible in a limited way. What if I asked myself a few questions about my biased predictions?

What did I intend in my past that caused the necessity to create biased behavioral and thought patterns?

  • How do those patterns of defense affect my relationships?
  • Why did that pattern affect my life as it did?
  • How did I feel about the situation that brought on that cause to defend in that way?
  • Do my patterns set myself and others up for failure?
  • What do I need? (Why do I need to ask?)

Let’s make a prediction:

What will my life look like in the future if I continue my current patterns of defense? The highest likelihood is that I’ll continue to get what I’ve gotten. It’s not the only probable outcome…