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Part 1 – Introduction – Opening a human mind
In this series of articles we are going to address intricacies of a human mind. And because this website is dedicated to entrepreneurship, our focus will be just that. We will discuss why some people are naturally successful in business and others are not, why reading self-improvement books does not really help, why at the pivotal moments we just can’t make that right business decision, then why we justify that it is because of our lack of experience, yet years go by and nothing changes. The above description may completely describe you, partially describe you, not describe you at all, and you may be aware of it, partially aware, or have no awareness of it at all. At the end it really does not matter. However in order to address these entrepreneurship topics, we have to look under the hood first in order to gain understanding. So the first few articles will be dedicated to this purpose. Subsequent articles will reference rich knowledge from these initial introductions.
“Know yourself and you will know your destiny, because you are your own destiny.” – oracle
My name is Rudy and I am a chemical engineer. I never studied psychology in school, however due to my own personal events, I studied psychology very deeply on my own and today I am where I am. Through these articles I’d like to share with you what I have learned, hoping to give an opportunity of self-discovery and self-growth to those of you that seek it.
The purpose of today’s article is to open your mind to ideas that you may otherwise reject. I am asking you to recognize that even in the world of macro physics, lot of physical laws today are based on empirical observations and ‘curve fitting’ and not based on understanding of matter and energy on a quantum level. Whether it is Newton’s law, laws of thermodynamics, or e.g. Reynold’s number is heavily used in chemical engineering when designing pumps and pipes. They are all based on empirical observations and sometimes ‘guess work’. Or in other words, while maybe not fundamentally correct, they give us a framework that works in the scope that is practical for us and it works. They allow us to build amazing machines, amazing processes, and factories and thus technologies seen today. But at the end, they may not be exactly correct on a microscopic level – they may even be wrong. At the end however all of these theories, or laws as we call them, are just human inventions that metaphorically describe the world as we perceive it. Similarly, we have decimal number system only because we, humans, have 10 fingers. From childhood we are taught to think in decimal system. Not until later years, we can learn and recognize that there are other number systems that may even be better and more practical. But let’s recognize here that without a decimal system first we would never arrive at more complex and abstract systems. Thus, while not as omnipotent as we believe the decimal system to be, it is very practical in our world, and without it, more complex systems could not be learned. We first need to learn a metaphorical framework that is simpler, makes sense for us at the moment before we can move onto more complex and abstract models. First step, if you will. But if we deny, refuse the simple, we not only cannot learn more abstract, but we do not even allow ourselves to be productive with the simple framework in a world where the simple is good enough.
Similarly, psychology is trying to study patterns of human behavior. Identify associations, decisions, mental processes and everything that a human mind brings. There are many psychological theories, but at the end they are all just metaphorical approximations to what is going on underneath. Some are better than others. Some of these theories may be simple, but they may describe certain situations well. They may describe our behavior on a macroscopic level, but completely miss the point on a microscopic level. But if we deny them before we even try to understand them, we are denying ourselves an opportunity to learn. From simple to something more complex. We kill it before it even has a time to evolve into something more complex and more real. So for example, when psychology describes that we have an ‘inner child’ that steers us away from making a good business decision, our immediate reaction may be ‘this is bullshit’, or a ‘psychobabble’. But I challenge you that the word ‘child’ is a metaphor here. Some theories call it ‘a part’, ‘a shadow’, ‘soul’, ‘demon’. All are bullshit, right? Well, it does not matter what you call it, it is a metaphorical word describing a neural connection in your brain that activates by certain external trigger and it actually can be identified by MRI – as I will mention in later articles with specific examples. Or in other words, in a certain situation a neural network in our mammalian limbic system can be triggered which directs our behavior and decision making (yes, decision making too and all conscious justifications along with it). Shall we call it neural pathway? Or a child? Shadow? RWG676? Does it matter? Whatever word we use, it just metaphorically describes the physical neural network and its activation under certain trigger.
As such, I am asking you here to be open minded to the words and sentences I choose. They are mine and they may not perfectly fit your current state of mind, but that should not be a reason for rejection. So hold your judgment until this entire series is over, and until you feel you understand this decimal system well – before rejecting it as flawed or too simple – which it very well at the end may turn out to be.
“Although it may sound strange, the underlining prerequisite to obtaining self-knowledge and having a possibility for change is accepting ourselves. Constructive awareness and development cannot be founded on rejection and denial.” – Peter Popper
Let’s start with little simple self-awareness: If you were to hit your head with an object in a really stupid way, in that moment, are you more likely to say to yourself ‘I am an idiot’ or ‘You are an idiot’?. Think about it for a moment. “Ouch….. I am an idiot!” versus “Ouch…. You are an idiot!”.
Which one is more compatible with your inner mental structure? You will immediately feel (but not know why) which one fits more. And while you can learn to force yourself to say the other, the core inside of you that decides which fits better is not going to change. You would force to change just a symptom of something much deeper. Yet, that is exactly what we do when reading self-improvement books and talking to mentors, we try to learn what to say in those elevator pitches, how to approach customers, how to make business decisions, not recognizing that is the core that guides us and that we need to approach that and not just the symptoms. Are you stuck changing the symptoms?
“Change yourself and your destiny will change as well.” – oracle
I have two exercises for you today. First one is this: Imagine you were born with an eye deficiency in such a way that you don’t see color blue. Now think about it hard and explain how would you find out? We will come back to this in later articles.
The second exercise is much more difficult: When you were 1 year old or so, you did not know how to speak yet. You did not have language yet. As such you also could not think! by using words. (Actually your frontal cortex wasn’t even developed to do any conscious thinking.) Everything you encountered at that time you processed without language! Tonight, before you go to bed, go and look at yourself in the mirror. Then look into (not at) your own eyes. But when you do this, don’t use language. No words allowed. Uttered or thought. Don’t say anything. Don’t think anything using words. Experience yourself without language and reflect on it. Some of you may feel fear, some peace, some anxiety, some something else and some a big nothing.
Both of these exercises use language as a tool to our consciousness and challenge it in a way that we don’t use it in a day to day basis. As such, our next article will be about language.
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