Discover more from Living Happy and Write Better Now!
Do You Need a New Script?
Also why are mind maps so hard for me?
Earlier this week, I mentioned how in his class, “Crafting Realities: Work, Happiness and Meaning,” Professor Ramya Ranganathan writes,
“Whatever happens outside, what actually happens is the facts. But the facts by themselves are not processed in our brains. We process them in our own unique subjective ways, inside our minds, and that is the stories that we tell ourselves.”
Basically what he’s saying is this: There are different ways that we process that outside information and create that into stories inside our brains. Ranganathan calls these building blocks and I’ll be talking about them in the next couple weeks.
There are two realities (at least): objective and subjective.
That objective reality is the facts.
That subjective reality is how our brains interpret and process those facts.
You think you know what’s going on. You experienced it, right? Eh. Maybe not.
“When you look at this objective reality versus this subjective reality, it takes just a minute to realize that everything that you actually acknowledge is your reality that when you say, I experience this or when you say this happens to me or when you say I see this, you are always referring to your subjective reality.”
Mind blown, right? Or maybe not? Maybe you know this already, but here’s a tiny bit more.
“This is because you have no access to the objective reality. The more you recognized that everything that you call your reality, your experiences is actually your subjective reality which is a combination not just of the objective reality, the facts but also of the way you are experiencing and interacting with this objective reality, you realize that you actually have more degrees of control.You have more buttons to play with to craft this realty in a way that you want to.”
But it goes deeper. Once we experience something (subjective experience), we go on and recreate it and revise it according to the way our brain thinks, the scripts that we always have running in there.
If I experience a new follower on my news blog and they are someone that tends to get noisy about things, I might panic because I’m following the same mental scripts and models of my childhood; scripts that say, “Hide. Don’t get noticed. To get noticed is to get hurt.” I will make it into a negative experience or an anxiety-driven experience.
My daughter? She’d say, “Psych! New follower! Even this guy follows me! Score!” That’s because her script and mental model is vastly different than mine.
Confirmation bias, according to Raymond Nickerson, “Connotes the seeking or interpreting of evidence in ways that are partial to existing beliefs, expectations, or a hypothesis in hand.”
So we experience something in a way that reinforces what we already think about things.
My daughter Em and I took a trip to Ireland. The objective fact of the script is that we stayed in a bed and breakfast and outside our window a house’s burglar alarm with strobe light went off for 92 minutes in the middle of the night. Yes, I did time it after a minute of screeching hell.
I called the police. I went over there to see if I could pull a wire or something, which is technically breaking all sorts of laws.
I remember this event as being a really bad moment of tension and anxiety because my daughter is a bear when she wants to sleep and I was powerless to get that alarm off. She remembers it as sucking but not the end of the world.
The event confirmed to me that I was powerless and had no voice. I couldn’t turn off the alarm. I couldn’t get the police to come. I couldn’t get my daughter to stop complaining. If my mental brain set/models were better at the time, I probably would have thought: This will be a story some day. It’s a bonding experience. Losing one night’s sleep is not the end of the world, Carrie. You have survived much worse things. This is pretty funny.
My confirmation bias at the time (which was a bad time in my life) kept me from thinking of it as humorous or a non-event. My confirmation bias made it into a judgement on me.
As Ranganathan writes,
“So, our experiences and the way we process them, which is our subjective experiences, influence our beliefs. And our beliefs actually lead us to select information from the environment in a way that has a tendency to confirm the belief rather than disconfirm the belief. This bias of selecting information from the environment in order to confirm your own belief is called confirmation bias and is a very widely prevalent bias.
“So, what happens as a result of this is that we increasingly magnify and strengthen our beliefs about whatever it is.
“For example, if it is a belief that work is stressful, we will increasingly pick and select information from the environment and process evidence in a way that supports this belief of ours.
“We will also, this bias also kicks in, in the way we pick associations and memories from our own lives and again we tend to reinforce these beliefs. These beliefs then drive us to process new experiences also in the context of this frame, of this frame the belief works as a frame to process it that work is stressful and then work increasingly really lands up feeling more and more stressful for us.”
WE CAN CHANGE
The thing is that we can change how we perceive situations. Some people journal to help them create lasting change. Some people use other activities that cause them to reflect. A first step toward that, according to Ranganathan is creating a mind map. That’s just a diagram you create where you organize information into a hierarchy. You represent your ideas as images or words.
Full disclosure: I’m not into mind maps. This is possibly because my whole mind is a constant mind map. But I’m all for trying. And science and studies have shown that a lot of users (80%) think it really helps them understand ideas and concepts.
Here’s one from Roman Jancic
And another by The Tutor Team
And another from Mind Map Unleashed.
If you are like me and have a hitch in your giddyup when it comes to making mind maps, there is a free mind map maker on Canva.
WHERE DO YOU START?
The first step would be to think about these sentences to nudge the creation of that map according to Ranganathan:
· “What according to you is 'success'?
· “What are your definitions/descriptions/labels related to success?
· “What are the factors that influence success?”
LINKS TO LEARN MORE
‘The Framing of Decisions and the Psychology of Choice’ by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman.
Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1981). The framing of decisions and the psychology of choice. science, 211(4481), 453-458.
Nickerson, R. S. (1998). ‘Confirmation bias: A ubiquitous phenomenon in many guises.’ Review of General Psychology, 2(2), 175.
Living Happy is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. And thanks for being here, hanging out with me, thinking about mind maps. I really appreciate that you are!