Article Index

  • Consider how our way of thinking has grown from simplicity to sophistication.  Initially, conscious awareness consisted only of images and automatic reactions.  Later, thoughts that popped into our mind could be manipulated by thinking about the thoughts.  Conscious awareness expanded our power to find original solutions to the goals prescribed by instinct and our nurturers.  Like a computer, we acquire data through input.  The information is processed to serve the commands posed by the authority that entered it.  Such masters at the human keyboard might be instinct, our nurturers, fate, circumstance, culture, and human dictators.  Our super-sophisticated human brain enables us to reach the next level of consciousness where we control the keyboard: self-mastery.
  • We engage in a process called “reflective thinking” which is the ability to observe our thinking.  It is much easier to shave or put on makeup when we see our reflection in a mirror.  Our cortex enables us to become conscious of our consciousness, i.e. self-conscious.  Our mental life is like a continuous motion picture, “a stream of consciousness.”  Fate and circumstance provide the initial story line; they stimulate our thoughts and thinking.  We commonly stay stuck at this level.  Reflective thinking is our means to become skillful in self-programming. Only we can teach ourselves to become our own person.  We may selectively modify the action patterns others have pre-wired, and so we assume responsibility for our destiny.  Other living beings follow the script provided by nature and nurture, while we may become the producer and the director of our mental motion picture.
  •  Thanks to our complex brain and its elaborate mental processing capacity, we can manipulate information, interpret it, and form beliefs.   We use the data recorded in our memory and current experience to make assumptions.  The collection of assumptions, beliefs, and personal interpretations of data constitute our assumptive worldview.  We can more powerfully influence our thinking, feelings, and actions by our assumptions than by the here and now information provided by our body and our senses.  Other earthlings are constrained by the limited pathways prewired by nature and their nurturers. 
  • Unlike our animal brain, which is preprogrammed at our birth to benefit us with the trial-and-error survival skills passed forward through history, our cerebral cortex is more like a tabula rasa, a clean slate.   During our first dozen years, our cortex has an extraordinary ability to learn by mimicking whatever our role models dictate.  Immature and uneducated, our tabula rasa has little resistance to whatever interpretations our early authorities inscribe.  The combined programs become our assumptive worldview and establish the values that influence our thinking, feelings, and actions. 
  • Our animal brain is amoral.  It is prewired to repeat the life cycle.  It favors saying “yes” to whatever looks, feels, tastes, sounds, and smells good; it demands risky, self-serving action if it seems likely to succeed without too big a price.  Our nurturer’s perspective is commonly the opposite of the animal brain’s amoral seek pleasure/avoid pain demands for instant satisfaction.  The conflict between the “yes’s” we inherit and the “no’s” of tradition often persist through our lifetime as a major source of stress.  No other species invents the degree of neurotic anxiety that leads to the distinctive human traits of blaming others, guilting ourselves, and harmful aggression to appease our value system.  
  • Our assumptive worldview not only defines the values that are right and good, it automatically distinguishes what is wrong and evil.  Our first assumptive views divide the world into two either/or opposing categories: advocacy, allegiance, love and obedience for “our tribe,” and suspicion, disrespect, hate, and dehumanizing what is not our side.  This early either/or way of thinking is an important source of bigotry and prejudice.