Saturday, 29 March 2014

How we Metabolize Information - few extracts from the book

The next process that impacts our emotional stance leading to a particular behavior in this chain of event is about the way we metabolize information. Over twenty three centuries ago, Aristotle was one of the first proponents to study the inner-workings of the mind and how they affect human experience. He believed all of people’s concepts and all of their knowledge was ultimately based on perception.

2.3 Cognitive Style

Cognitive style or "thinking style" is a term used to describe the way individuals think, reason, decide, perceive and remember information.

Going back to our activating event position, how do we pick them up?  We pick them up using our five senses:


To gather information, sight is the most powerful sense. In fact, our eyes take in more information than all of our other senses combined together. Also note, our smell is hard wired to our memory. For example; sometimes one little smell, one little whiff of something, can take us back to our childhood: in a blink. Why? Because smell is hard wired to our memory. The tongue can primarily identify four different tastes:  sweet, sour, salty or bitter. The human nose can differentiate between 3500 different nuances (a blood hound can differentiate between 8 million). Both work together to produce a bigger list of tasting experience. That is why with a cold and stuffy nose, we are reduced to tasting food a bit differently.

What do we do, after experiencing an activating event?  We pick it up with our five senses and pass it through our belief system. When we pass it through our belief system, two things happen immediately. Step one; we label it. We, as a species, are obsessed with labelling things: looks like, sound like, feels like, tastes like, we are always likening it to something. We are always labelling things to something that we have experienced or remembered from our growing up years. So we are taking the content and by labelling it, we are putting it in context against our own framework of reality, which is our belief system.

Another essential component of our emotional stance comes under the process called self-talk. Apart from everything discussed above, self-talk can have a tremendous impact on our emotional stance and its swing from negative to positive, or the other way.
2.4 Self-Talk

The following quote from Mark Twain would fittingly qualify this chapter on self-talk:

I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened. 

Our ability to talk to ourselves and think in words is a major part of the human experience of consciousness. Proponents or advocates of cognitive therapy have delved deeper into the concept of self-talk and its impact on our behavior. It states, activating events do not cause the real problem, it is our thinking about them and some of the irrational beliefs that we hold dear to us.

My simplest definition for self-talk is: “What I am thinking about is what I say to myself and what I say to myself is called self-talk.” Now, self-talk is the conversation that you are having with yourself in your head all the time. Self-talk is the conversation that you have in your head while you are pretending to listen to your teacher, wife, friends, parents or kids. Most of us do not realize but as we go about our lives, all the activating events that we encounter, results in us thinking about it and interpreting it. Based on our belief system, the internal voice inside our head determines how we perceive every situation.

Unfortunately, as I have stated earlier on: we are very good in beating ourselves up.

Meaning: Self-talk is often skewed towards the negativity. Often it is tainted with guilt about our past or anxiety about our future. This negativity can swing our emotional stance and our resulting behavior.

Also note: Our actions are inspired by our thoughts. If we can change the way we think, we can begin to change the actions we take.

The first step towards this: always consciously take note of what we’re saying in our minds. Also, when faced with a negative situation, completely cut down on negative self-talk or self-criticism. Remove the personal side from the situation. Down play emotions that creep up.

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