Was This a Mistake?

“What mistake?”

In my bubble awareness, I experience fear as dread of my decision-making due to buyer’s remorse and post dissonance. After I’ve made a choice, a fearful afterthought of regret sets in motion more dread.

These afterthoughts are personal attacks or self-judgements based on self-doubt.

From the perspective of regret, I question myself about patterns of perceived mistakes,

  • “What’s wrong with me?”
  • “How could I make such a mistake?”
  • “Why can’t I do anything right?”
  • “Who do I think I am?”

From a conscious perspective, I question myself about patterns of perceived mistakes,

  • “What is the cause of my fear of making this choice?”
  • “How does my fear of making a mistake affect this choice?”
  • “Why am I perceiving this choice as a mistake?”
  • “Who am I to fear making this choice?”

How does fear affect my choices?

With practice, patterns of self-doubt develop into patterned thought-forms that automatically affect my ability to choose. Those defenses protect and validate patterns of regret, resulting in shame, blame, and guilt.

My present dread cause me to recall other times I made choices and felt the regret of making those mistakes about my choices. Such over-generalization (e.g., “I always make mistakes.” and “I can never be right!”) impose restrictions on any potential opportunities for making new choices. This affects my self-image (e.g.,”I’m a mistake!”) and consequently everything I perceive from that perspective.

Why would I allow fear to influence my choices?

I like to think I’m always choosing what’s best for me, yet, my choices often say different. Could I be protecting my past failed choices by validating that I can’t make good choices in the present? It’s possible that I’m merely defending what I believe cannot be changed. From my bubble awareness, I’m implying that I am my past mistakes. Because I am a mistake, I can’t help but make mistakes.

Who’s in charge?!

My need to maintain a specific self-image keeps me in check from changing that image. No matter how I doll that image up and set it on a pedestal, it’s still the same self image. How do I get out of this corner I’ve painted myself into?

Making mistakes is what choice is all about – each mistake offers an opportunity to consider another way of experiencing. What if choice is more of a game of chance than a test of what’s right and wrong?

Whose game is this?

My Memory Ain’t What It Used to Be

I count on and trust my senses and my memory. After experiencing several optical, auditory, and kinesthetic illusions, I’m not quite as certain about my senses as I once was. So, if I’m dedicating illusions to memory and then trusting those memories today, wouldn’t that present a distorted view? Why do I trust them so much? Doesn’t make much sense.

“People tend to place greater faith in the accuracy, completeness and vividness of their memories than they probably should.” (Simons1)

Ya think so? As I’ve managed to survive into my sixties, I appreciate how fallible my memory is – especially when someone challenges my recall of an event with their recall of the same event. Sometimes it seems we’re talking about an entirely different event. As a defense mechanism, memory just ain’t what it used to be.

3 Misconceptions about Memory

Let’s consider three misconceptions about my memory and the truth about them based on scientific study of the phenomenon by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign2.

  1. Misconception – Human memory is like a video camera that accurately records information for later evaluation.
    • Truth – “We’ve known since the 1930s that memories can become distorted in systematic ways. For example, University of California professor Elizabeth Loftus and colleagues have managed to introduce entirely false memories that people believe and trust as if they had really happened.”
  2. Misconception – Memories do not change once the experiences are embedded in memory.
    • Truth – “We’ve known since the 1980s that even memory for vivid, very meaningful personal events can change over time. Our memories can change even if we don’t realize they have changed. Cornell University psychology professor Ulric Neisser showed that personal memories for the Challenger space shuttle explosion changed over time”
  3. Misconception – The testimony of a single confident eyewitness is adequate evidence to convict someone of a crime.
    • Truth – “Even confident witnesses are wrong about 30 percent of the time. That means that if a defendant can’t remember something, a jury might assume they are lying. And misremembering one detail can impugn their credibility for other testimony, when it might just reflect the normal fallibility of memory.”

“The fallibility of memory is well established in the scientific literature, but mistaken intuitions about memory persist.” (Chabris1)

If I can’t count on my senses or memories, what can I count on? Perhaps it depends on why I depend on them. For the most part, I rely on my senses and memories to validate reality – in defense of my beliefs. What will I do now that I know my memories and senses cannot be counted upon to give me accurate and truthful information?

What to Do?

It seems to me a bit of skepticism might fit well into my equations – along with a little humility towards others. I’m learning how okay it is to allow others to challenge my perceptions and memories – useful fodder for awakening in me an awareness of who I am beyond illusions and misunderstandings.

I don’t have to be right, ya know! Life will continue with or without my understanding of it. Perhaps it’s okay to be incorrect – now and then… 😉


  1. Union College psychology professor Chris Chabris and University of Illinois psychology professor Daniel Simons coauthors of “The Invisible Gorilla.”
  2. “What People Believe About How Memory Works: A Representative Survey of the U.S. Population.” Online or from the U. of I. News Bureau. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Personality Type by Third Degree Question

Might I be able to identify a personality type by dominant usage of Third Degree of Illumination question type? Referring to our 4-question model of inquiry:

  • A What type might focus more on things, ideas, etc.;
  • A How type might focus more on ways and means, goals, and methodologies – engineering;
  • A Why type might focus more on emotions, empathy, and certainty;
  • A Who type might focus more on interpersonal relationships, authoritarianism, etc. –

Might a long list of personality characteristics be made from these? I wonder.

Read more Personality Type by Third Degree Question

Convincing Words and the Third Degree

I tend to use the word, “so” as one of several convincing words to end questioning. Same with the words, “because” and “then” – transition words that move a concept from consideration to conclusion. I use them as Second Degree of Illumination defense to avoid Third Degree of Illumination inquiry and convince myself of my rightness within my First-Second Degree of Illumination bubble.

I use convincing words to invoke consensus as a defense and to halt further investigation. As a conjunction, the word “so” means, “and for this reason; therefore.” (Google) “Because” as conjunction means, “for the reason that; since.” (Google) “Then” and “therefore” conjunctions essentially mean the same as “so”.

Convincing Words and the End of Inquiry

Read more Convincing Words and the Third Degree

No Time Like the Present

I have questions in the present that challenge my certainty of a past I’ve used to justify the present. The more I consider the usefulness of self-inquiry, the more questions I have and the less confident I feel in my defense of time, as I understand it, as authoritative.

One question can start me on a path to awakening, “Do I need to be right?” This could be the result of an interaction I had with someone recently in which I was sure I was right about a position and just as sure that that someone was wrong. I backed up my points with proof as did they. Their side seemed equally logical, but I realized I had strong emotions on my side that boosted my need even further with convincing energy.

“Nobody is ever convinced of anything until they FEEL convinced, and if you can get them to FEEL convinced, you can convince them of anything.” (Scott Bryant concerning Group Manipulation)

When my emotions get involved, pain doesn’t seem to be an obstacle! Rather, it serves to prove my point – to me!

Read more No Time Like the Present