Understanding the Animal Called Me

When you’re lost, you want to find something familiar. You want to be found or at least feel safe. I have an interest in the way the mind works. I’m interested in the way people sell things to me and how billion-dollar companies tap into the mind of their consumers.
I have an interest in reading a book entitled, The Human Animal. To be clear, I have an interest in anything that helps me understand why we think or why we feel or act. The emotional brain is interesting to me, which of course, I have my own reasons for wanting to understand. Know what I mean?

Habits interest me. So do the loops we find ourselves in that coincide with our daily routines and traditions. Some of these routines are hardly noticed. This is our body’s autopilot. For example, we don’t think about where we place things when we come home. More often, it’s just a habit. We don’t think about where we put our shoes or how to tie our laces. More often, these are simple patterns that we have developed over a period of time. These things require very little mental input; however, place an item in an unusual place and notice how your search patterns can become frantic. 

I have witnessed people swear that something was moved or stolen. I have watched people frantically check their pockets for keys or better yet, I have seen people freak out while trying to find their cell phone. I have seen people accuse theft because something went missing and was not in its usual place. Meanwhile, the problem wasn’t the item. The issue was the item was placed in an unusual spot. I’ve seen this. I’ve seen this from beginning to end and at the end of the franticness, commonly, I’ve heard people say, “I never put this here.” So what happened?

A quick little blip in the system caused the person to leave an item in an unusual place; and when the habit kicked in, the mind switched into panic mode because the comfort wasn’t met.

Our habits are so ingrained that simple actions do not require any thought. Even more complex actions, such as driving in a car or walking to a desk at work do not require real thinking. We don’t think about how to drive while we are driving nor do we think about how to ride a bicycle while riding it. We only think about this in the learning phases.
Think about this. Why do we show kids flashcards while learning multiplication tables? The reason is so that math becomes second nature. This way the brain can rest and think about other ventures or tasks without having to stress about how much is 6 x 7?

Habits mean the body knows what to do without any conscious influence. This becomes a trained behavior. In truth, we are all trained in basic tasks; and such is the same with our thinking. We associate sights, sounds and smells with predictive assumptions. We arrive at our biases through a series of patterns that happen again and again. 

I have worked in the same building in New York City for more than 13 years. I see the same people every day. I pass them in my usual business attire. However, I have passed the same people on the street in different clothes and yet, somehow, they all say the same thing. “I didn’t recognize you out of your uniform.” What does this say about our mind’s bias and association? 

Example: See a man in a high priced suit on a frequent basis. You don’t know him. You only see him.
The mind assumes he might be a businessman.
Who knows, right?
Maybe he is an executive.
Could be.
One could say he goes to work. Probably has a desk job. Maybe he has an assistant. His nails are manicured. He wears a wedding ring with a nice respectable wrist watch. His hair is combed neatly and from this, we might look and come to a biased conclusion.

A week passes and the man in the suit is gone. You don’t see him anymore until one day, you find yourself walking and you notice someone who looks slightly familiar; only, for some reason, you can’t place your finger on why. The man is covered in filth. He works at a sewer cleaning service and he is covered with the worst kind of filth. He says hello but you don’t greet him with the same energy because you are unsure. 

Suddenly, the light goes on.
You recognize him. He is the man in the suit who you’ve seen countless times before. 

The question I have here is what happens to the assumptions you had before? What happens to your bias about this person or the idea you might have had about him? What about his desk job with an assistant?

I have seen people on both sides. I have seen private clients that only recognize me when I am dressed in casual business attire. Interestingly enough, one person saw me in my day job’s uniform. I was dirty too. He asked me if I gave up coaching. I answered, “Not at all, why?” He answered, “I see you in your uniform here, so I figured this is what you’re doing now.”

See what I mean about the way we’ve been trained.?
See what I mean about the way we have social biases, intellectual biases and financial biases.
Our association with attire, wealth, class and behavior has always been very interesting to me.

I have been part of my own loops of behavior. I have seen people complete their own cycles in which, there are times when people wonder how they’d end up in the same situations. Isn’t this insanity?
Doing the same thing all the time and expecting different results, isn’t that it?
There are people who wonder why they find themselves on the losing end of relationships and yet, no one notices the roles they play in their own journeys.

We have all been taught. We have all been trained. But wait, they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Right?
Is this true?
The only truth is habits are learned behaviors. The truth is the mind stores these lessons to honor a cue, a loop and a reward.

This Is interesting to me. I want to understand more. I want to know why we act the way we do. I want to understand our beliefs and our assumptions. I want to know where this comes from. I want to learn more about the system of our habits and how at the core, there’s a want, a need, a thought or an idea that we look to reward, solve or satiate.

It is true that habits are based on repetitive thinking and behavior. It is also true that the mind stores this with different connections to solve the subconscious dilemmas without requiring too much thought. However, it is untrue to say that we can’t teach an old dog new tricks. The key is to find a new reward. The key is to understand the need that triggers our cue system. Next, we recreate the loop and then a new reward to satiate our needs.

We are all simple animals. And the truth is the mind wants to know one simple thing.
“What’s in it for me?”
Where’s the reward?
I don’t mean this in a selfish way. I mean this is a survivalist way. I mean this in the sense that habits are formed because the mind wants things to be simple. But life is not simple. We want to be safe. We want to feel good. And there’s nothing wrong with this, per se. However, not all habits are helpful and not all help is helpful either. 

I want to understand more about the mind and the animal within. I want to know why, where and when. This way, maybe I can understand more about my own habits. I can learn how they were formed and why I slaved to them in order to keep them alive.

Emotion is interesting to me. We all have this. And we all slave to this.
Think about this for a minute.
What if there were no fears about rejection from the herd? What if there were no concerns about safety or protection? Imagine the way our conversations would change if there were no biases or predictive thinking.

I have always enjoyed the ways of the stoic: 
The stoic:

To be free from passion or grief, to be unmoved, to endure without response, to submit without complaint, and to withstand life’s terms without allowing them to dictate response.
The definition I found on Stoicism is copied as follows:

sto·i·cism ˈstōəˌsizəm/
noun 1. 1. 
the endurance of pain or hardship without a display of feelings and without complaint.

synonyms: patience, forbearance, resignation, fortitude, endurance, acceptance, tolerance, phlegm “She accepted her sufferings with remarkable stoicism”

2. 2.
an ancient Greek school of philosophy founded at Athens by Zeno of Citium. The school taught that virtue, the highest good, is based on knowledge, and that the wise live in harmony with the divine Reason (also identified with Fate and Providence) that governs nature, and are indifferent to the vicissitudes of fortune and to pleasure and pain.

I think in troubled times or when fate appears grim, to be stoic or unmoved, and to be able to endure without so much as a flinch and to withstand without complaint; well, the idea sure sounds right. 

But I wonder—
Is it truly possible to be indifferent or to be unmoved when life falls apart?
I agree that a life lived in a constant state of emotional response will always remain emotional. Therefore, life lived in a constant state of logical response will remain logical and unemotional.

Get it?

Feelings are a funny thing. Feelings are just emotions tied to experiences. In which case, our mind is just a computer that adds up the tally of different events in our life; therefore, creating a pattern of, “If X then Y,” and 1 + 1 = 2. However, our math is not always accurate (neither is our memory) and we assume the inaccurate sum of our fears and divide them with a hint of pessimistic memory or a lack of trust.

This is where assumptions come from and where our expectations live.

A one point (I swear) I would have jumped at the chance to hit a switch and have all the attachments between me and my feelings shut down — sure, I wanted to be free from insecurity and indifferent to pain, to boredom, to be rid the overly-analytical thought, and to be unafraid, and to feel comfortable with my effort regardless to the outcome. 

There is a word for this, by the way, which I will tell you about shortly. It took me a long time to learn the true meaning of the word BALANCE. Obviously, I heard the word before, but I never knew what it meant to FEEL balanced.

I knew what the word serenity meant, but I never knew what it meant to surrender.

I spent decades trying to cover my so-called imperfections to no avail. I spent more energy trying to hide from me rather than accepting myself for who I am. In turn, this caused me to fail, to turn inwards,, to implode or to collapse and deflate. I always describe this the same way. I lost to this like water loses to a drain. I like this description because it explains my loss perfectly. 

This is a case of what I call Mid-Mind Dominance. This is when we allow emotion to dictate our next move. This is when we react irrationally or inappropriately. Mid-Mind Dominance is life given to fear; this is life in response to the inaccurate mathematics of emotion. This is where paranoia lives. This is where memory recalls history and calculates the pertinent offenses of moral injury (by the way, moral injury is also known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and in this mindset, I assumed all are guilty until proven innocent. This is where I stored my habits to alleviate the panics, the fears, the anxieties and the depression. 

To be stoic:

To be free from the habits or their science is not to be without emotion. Instead, this is to be unhinged to the Mid-Mind thought process.

To be stoic-

To allow logic its place and to pacify one’s inner fears and rectify the emotional math that never adds up.

To achieve balance without the use of a crutch.

To surrender to win.

To live without the misconceptions of a fear-based math.

It doesn’t mean you don’t care . . .

I care plenty.

It just means I understand more
To help me change
To keep from feeling lost
To satiate the seed in my brain
(so at last, it grows differently).

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