How our mind works - 4 surprising facts
Nia Bennett | Jan, 3 2020
Often people say, if you can control your mind, you would be able to control your thoughts and actions.
But how much of our mind is within our control. The answer is a partial yes. How our brain and our mind works are complex. Unlike the brain, our mind is not physical and it gives us consciousness, perception, thinking, judgment, and memory.
According to scientific research, our thought processes cannot be reliable all the time. So oftentimes the perceptions we have about ourselves could be wrong because our thinking is unconscious. It is influenced by external cues, even more than we can understand.
Here are a few amazing ways how the human mind works in subconscious ways.
1. I am rational, I make informed decisions
If you think you make decisions based on facts and not on a whim, then you are bound to be blown away by a psychological phenomenon called an ‘availability heuristic’. This is when our mind accesses readily obtainable information rather than exploring alternatives. So when you think you have examined facts before making your decision, just be aware that your mind could be tricking you into taking subconscious messages that were tapped from external situations rather than a fully informed decision based on all facts.
2. I am right, my way of thinking cannot be wrong
When our thoughts, ideas, behaviours or lifestyle is challenged through external sources, two things happen: we either consciously learn the new way of doing things based on research or we continue living or believing in our thought process assuming that we are right.
If you ever feel like your mind is doing the latter, you’ll be stumped by the ‘Backfire effect’. The phenomenon occurs when our deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory sources, people or groups. In such a situation our beliefs get stronger with opposition. A lot of religious conflicts happen due to this occurrence.
3. I know it’s wrong, but I still do it
You know the reason why most of us stick at things we don’t enjoy. There are so many people in the world who are corporate slaves, stuck leading unhappy lives and unhappy relationships. A lot of us look at these people and call them cowards! However it is not cowardice that is making them stick to whatever routine, person or life they are leading it is the ‘Sunk Cost Fallacy’. This is when we stick to something because of the amount of time and energy invested in something. Our irrational decisions are based on this incident. Our conscious mind is aware that the said person, job, event, food, lifestyle is bad for us but it is an unconscious act where our mind fails to make a change because of the sheer effort gone into it. This is why people get stuck to dull jobs, have toxic relationships, fall off the fitness bandwagon or remain unproductive.
4. I am sure this is how the world works
The moment we make general assumptions about people, our friends, society, or the world our mind is falling prey to the ‘False Consensus Effect’. This is when we assume something is just like we think it is. For e.g: When you have a Math test, you look at the questions and assume this is tough and a lot of people are going to struggle, only to realise later that a lot of people did well in the test result and your assumption was based on the bias your mind created that it was tough.
A lot of times the human mind created this bias based on our interactions with our family members, partners or friends. Since we often have more in common with them than others, we tend to assume that the outside world or group of people might have similar ideas or perceptions. This happens to our mind on a subconscious level and hence we have so many generalisations which are far from the truth.
Ultimately you are not your mind, you are the willpower and learning about how your mind and your brain works on a conscious and subconscious level will help you reprogram your life.