Distortions of the Mind

Distortions of the Mind

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The mind is an amaz­ing thing.  Like your very own su­per com­puter, it han­dles mil­lions of tasks every mo­ment. Be­sides keep­ing your body alive and func­tion­ing, it’s the tool that al­lows you to think all those thoughts you think every day.  It re­mem­bers and re­trieves them too.  It per­ceives and judges your en­vi­ron­ment and your ex­pe­ri­ences, and helps you for­mu­late your ideas of the world and your­self  into be­liefs.

Can you imag­ine the mo­men­tous task of cor­re­lat­ing and fil­ing every sin­gle thought you’ve ever had? Along with every sin­gle word you’ve ever heard?  And everything you’ve ever seen?  And re­triev­ing them on com­mand?  The mind truly is amaz­ing!

And yet, at times it gets us into trou­ble.

We tell our­selves sto­ries all the time. But how true are they?

thinking-mindOur ex­pe­ri­ence of life is per­ceived through fil­ters that have been cre­ated by our past thoughts. That lit­tle voice in­side our head that talks in­ces­santly can dis­tort what is ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing in the mo­ment. And things can seem re­ally good or re­ally bad de­pend­ing on those past per­cep­tions.

This af­fects our mem­o­ries too.  The first time we re­call some­thing, we re­mem­ber the ac­tual ex­pe­ri­ence.  The next time we bring it to mind, we are re­mem­ber­ing the mem­ory of the last time we thought about it.

Think about that for a mo­ment.

How many times have you ru­mi­nated over a stress­ful ex­pe­ri­ence? And each time you did, you were only ac­cess­ing the last mem­ory of thinking about it, rather than the actual experience.  Can you see how things could get dis­torted?  Our emo­tions, judg­ments, be­liefs and re­ac­tions all go into the pot.

Have you ever played “tele­phone?”  You know, that child­hood game where one per­son whis­pers some­thing to the next per­son who shares it with the next and on and on… and when you fi­nally hear what the last per­son was told, it is nowhere near the orig­i­nal state­ment that was said in the first place.  The mind can be like that.  whispering

Per­haps that is why law en­force­ment can have a hard time find­ing wit­nesses that say the same thing when re­call­ing the de­tails of a crime.  Add stress to the mem­ory and things can get distorted even more.

When I hear two peo­ple talk about the same ex­pe­ri­ence and they have two dif­fer­ent takes on it, I know the truth lies some­where in be­tween.  Af­ter all, each of us stands in a dif­fer­ent place, with our own unique per­spec­tive, our own unique fil­ters, how could they be the same?

In fact, when any of us share any­thing, we are sim­ply shar­ing our own per­cep­tion.   Hope­fully we’re get­ting the im­por­tant de­tails right!

The important thing to remember is that thoughts can change.  If your memories are particularly painful or if that voice in your head is negative and critical, there is inner work that can be done to lighten those thoughts, shift perspectives and find more peace inside.

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