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What our subconscious mind really wants

posted Jun 3, 2016, 3:38 AM by Jake Vosloo   [ updated Jun 11, 2016, 12:58 AM ]

I believe our subconscious mind wants one thing above everything else.

Our minds wants to live for ever!

By mind, I mean the combination of brain, thoughts and personality we call "me", some psychologists call it the "ego" and exactly what it encompasses is not clearly defined. This post is not meant to be scientifically rigorous so let's go with "mind". Below I attempt to explain how this priority drives how we think and act every day.

The genetic mind knows it cannot live forever but procreation has been quite successful at keeping the genetic mind alive. This is directive 2. It gets interesting when the mind realizes it is more than just a physical being, so directive 2 aim to procreate both the physical and mental form. The physical procreation is well known and based on evolutionary history. The mental procreation relate to the "memes" that are our thought patterns and processes. These memes are passed to future generations through teaching and communication. 

Directive 3:
In addition the mind came to believe (or was made to believe) that there may be another way to live forever which is by becoming a spiritual being that lives on even when the body ends, this is directive 3. Note that directive 2 is much stronger than directive 3 because directive 2 is experienced by our genetics while directive 3 is a belief of the mind only.

Directive 4:
Both directive 2 and 3 depend on the body’s existence to be extended for as long as possible. This leads us to directive 4, namely to survive in the current body as long as possible.

These directives form a dependency tree, each directive lower on the tree is meant to support the higher directives:
Prime directive: Live for ever
Directive 2: Procreate body and memes.
Directive 3: Ascend to a higher plane of existence.
Directive 4: Preserve the physical body to support 2 and 3.

Continuing this analysis, the dependency tree can go many layers deep, up to the point where we consider individual decisions, like should I exercise or eat that chocolate?

Choose! But every choice may support and also obstruct a directive. According to the subconscious mind’s evolutionary knowledge sugar and fat is in short supply and to protect the physical body it must be eaten whenever possible, e.g. support directive 4. However the higher functioning educated mind knows that chocolate is not in short supply and eating it may actually cause damage to the body, e.g. against directive 4. Unfortunately the subconscious mind is in charge of emotions and your will. Your conscious mind can fight for a little while but eventually it will lose. Does this mean that we are doomed? 
Not necessarily, once we understand what part of the mind is in charge of our emotions and why, we can start to guide it by training it in certain ways.

Sometimes the mind cannot identify whether an action is helping or hindering and this is where the internal struggle creates anxiety which may eventually lead to depression. 
The subconscious mind is more protective than it is motivating, i.e. it will protect you against danger by using fear, it seldomly motivates you to do something.

Instead of fighting against the subconscious mind, one should help it make the right decisions. This can be done by rephrasing the decision against higher order directives and imagining exaggerated consequences for the decision. For example, I can tell myself that:
  • Eating the chocolate will make it impossible for me to have children because no-one will want me (Directive 2, fear). Balance the fear by imagining that not eating the chocolate will increase my chances to procreate. The directive is about procreation and not about finding true love.
  • Working hard will help me provide for my children (Directive 2)
  • Exercising will save my life from a heart attack (Directive 4)
  • Caring for someone in need helps me go to heaven (Directive 3)
If a decision is phrased to support these directives the mind will encourage action, if it seem to place the directives at risk it will discourage action. 

(Hayes, Strosahl, Wilson 1999) as cited by Shawn T. Smith 2011, "The User's Guide to the Human Mind: Why Our Brains Make Us Unhappy, Anxious, and Neurotic and What We Can Do about It"

You are the chessboard

posted Jun 3, 2016, 12:07 AM by Jake Vosloo   [ updated Jun 10, 2016, 10:59 PM ]

"Imagine a chessboard that stretches out in all directions. There are black pieces and white pieces fighting against each other, working as teams. This is a game of war.
You can think of your thoughts and feelings as the chess pieces. Like the black team and the white team, we tend to imagine our thoughts and feelings as teammates. There are “good” feelings, like self-confidence and happiness, and “bad” feelings, like anxiety, fear and sadness. Just as in chess we pick the side that we want to win. We want the good feelings to defeat the bad ones, and so we mount our battle against the enemy. We try to eliminate it from the board.
There's a problem with this. Trying to eliminate something within us (that is part of ourselves) only makes it stronger. The more we fight the enemy pieces, the bigger they become. It's a game that cannot be won.
Hayes asks. “What if you don’t play one side or the other? What if you aren’t the pieces or the player? What if, instead, you are the chessboard itself?"
When you choose a side, the game must be won, as if your life depends on it. But if you are the board, there is no reason to invest in the game. The board simply contains the pieces. It is the context in which the dynamics of the game exist. The game cannot exist without the board, but the board has no need to defeat one side or the other. From the board's point of view. There is no good team or bad team."

(Hayes, Strosahl, Wilson 1999) as cited by Shawn T. Smith 2011, "The User's Guide to the Human Mind: Why Our Brains Make Us Unhappy, Anxious, and Neurotic and What We Can Do about It"
Very interesting overviews here: https://contextualscience.org/video

"Of the several processes that purportedly contribute to psychological flexibility, that of enhancing self-as-context, or transcendent perspective taking, has been the least investigated. To address this omission, we conducted two analogue studies with college student participants examining the relative impact of a brief exercise for enhancing the contextual self on pain tolerance ( n = 22) by comparing it to control-based ( n = 22) and attention-placebo ( n = 22) protocols. In Study 1, the self-as-context intervention was a generic one that we modified only slightly from the 'observer exercise' presented in Hayes, Strosahl, and Wilson (, pp. 193-195). Significant, but equivalent, increases in pain tolerance as assessed by the cold pressor were obtained for the three protocols, with the largest effect size noted for the control-based condition. In Study 2, we compared a self-as-context protocol ( N = 22) that was contextualized to the experience of pain to data from Study 1. The contextualized intervention significantly increased pain tolerance compared to the generic self-as-context and attention-placebo conditions of Study 1. The increase was statistically equivalent to that obtained for the control-based condition of Study 1, but represented a greater effect size, suggesting that the relative impact of a generic self-as-context exercise is increased when contextualized to a specific psychological challenge. We discuss the implications of these findings for future research investigating the impact of interventions targeting self-as-context within both analogue and clinical research."

Carrasquillo, N, & Zettle, R 2014, 'Comparing a Brief Self-as-Context Exercise to Control-Based and Attention Placebo Protocols for Coping with Induced Pain', Psychological Record, 64, 4, pp. 659-669, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 3 June 2016.

A-players keep the standard high

posted Jun 17, 2015, 5:54 PM by Jake Vosloo   [ updated Jun 10, 2016, 10:59 PM ]

I saw this post by Rajan Batra which beautifully explains what Steve Jobs meant by only hiring A-players. It shows how B-players are willing to tolerate C-players so that they won't get called out for being B-players. If people start calling out lax work ethic then everyone will keep an eye on each other's performance.

It also helps to weed out petty rules because managers will get tired of having to enforce them and will get the rules changed.

This also relates to the Hawthorne effect which states that people’s performance increase if they know they are being observed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawthorne_effect

 "I found that when you get enough A players together, when you go through the incredible work to find five of these A players, they really like working with each other. Because they’ve never had a chance to do that before. And they don’t want to work with B and C players and so it becomes self-policing and they only want to hire more A players."

http://www.forbes.com/sites/drewhansen/2013/05/11/steve-jobs-lost-interview/

“I’ve learned over the years that, when you have really good people, you don’t have to baby them. By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things. The original Mac team taught me that A-plus players like to work together, and they don’t like it if you tolerate B-grade work.”

http://recruitloop.com/blog/steve-jobs-top-hiring-tip-hire-the-best/

“Tacit approval is given whenever managers fail to speak out about existing conditions. Tacit approval leads everyone to the assumption that existing conditions right or wrong, are acceptable, will be tolerated and be allowed to prevail.

Not only does tacit approval work against improving performance, it makes it unlikely that current standards will continue to be met. For instance when a supervisor doesn’t say anything to an associate about that associate’s missing name tag, what’s going to motivate that associate to wear one in the future? The manager’s silence implies that it is OK to not wear a name tag. Other associates will see this and before long the rule is generally disregarded. Reinstituting the policy at this stage requires a major retraining effort. To avoid this situation, a supervisor must be vocal – not overbearing, and communicate the needed correction. Timely correction of infractions will bring about a general awareness that no backsliding will is acceptable and also serves to remind everyone that the policy will remain firmly established.

All levels of management are susceptible to the paralyzing results of tacit approval, and any condition or issue – minor or vital – will suffer from the neglect through tacit approval.”

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/tacit-approval-rajan-batra-cmhs


Hire people smarter than yourself

posted Apr 29, 2015, 1:49 AM by Jake Vosloo   [ updated Jun 10, 2016, 11:00 PM ]

There’s a saying that one should hire / surround with people smarter than oneself.

I was thinking how this is applied if my IQ is higher than the top 2% of people, does this mean I can only employ 2% of the population? The answer is No, people’s intellect should not only be measured on their IQ (although it is one measure) it should also be on their emotional intelligence (EQ), their street smarts, their social intelligence, their skills and experience and a large number of other ways to measure an inherent thing that one person has and you don’t.

The point is, look for people who has something that you don’t and avoid people who are clones of you.

 

References:

“Helpers do what you say, while good help does what you need, without you saying anything. People who can help you the most are actually smarter than you, at least in their domain.” [Marty Zwilling, 2011, http://www.businessinsider.com.au/hire-more-help-and-fewer-helpers-for-your-startup-2011-3]

 

“My thinking began to change when I started worrying about the amount of micromanagement I had to do. I looked at some employees that I never had to micromanage. There were two engineers, my co-founders, who didn't require any supervision. Why? They were obviously better programmers than I was. There was a designer who was so great, I couldn't even understand how he did the things he did. He didn't get much micromanagement, either. So I woke up. And I made a new rule: Everyone who reports to me has to be much better at doing his or her job than I could ever be.” [Phil Libin, 2013, http://www.inc.com/magazine/201303/phil-libin/why-hiring-people-smarter-than-you-is-good-for-business.html]

 

“Hiring intelligently is one of the most direct ways to build a company's success. Look for the most capable candidates -- people whose brilliance exceeds your own.” [David Hassell, 2014, http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/236694]

 

“Let’s suppose you are very, very intelligent. So smart that you’ve mentioned your Mensa membership in your resume.  Was that, in fact, such a smart thing to do?” [MICHAEL MOFFA, 2102, https://www.recruiter.com/i/should-mensa-matter/]

 

“Don’t mention in your cover letter or resume that you’re a MENSA member. Just … don’t.” [ALISON GREEN, 2009, http://www.askamanager.org/2009/04/dont-mention-your-mensa-membership.html]


“But like I said, the problem isn't only that my brain is interested in things that most other brains aren't.  It’s also what my brain can’t do. There’s only a certain amount of space in the brain, and if one area is eating up the real estate with more neural power, some other part of the brain is likely losing out. For me, it’s some of the automatic social functioning which tells you, for example, what emotion another person is feeling based on their facial expression, or whether someone’s being sarcastic or not.  (Sarcasm is a minefield for me, and meeting another person in a hallway is a nightmare — I cannot interpret when to look, or not, what to say, or not, etc.) That said, I have an enormously rich life, and I've adjusted to it.  When I stopped trying to fit in, things got better.”

“Some smart people focus exclusively on their narrow area of interest and never realize that everything important in life is accomplished through other people.  They never try to improve their social skills, learn to network, or self promote, and often denigrate people who excel in these areas. If you are already a good engineer you are going to get 10x the return on time spent improving how you relate to other people compared to learning the next cool tool.” [anon, 2013, http://johnsimonds.com/2013/03/20/what-its-like-to-have-an-extremely-high-iq/]


“This research supports other extensive research by Marks showing that cognitive ability (or IQ) is the single biggest influence on student achievement. It trumps socioeconomic status and school factors, including teacher quality. But this does not mean that socioeconomic status is irrelevant.” [JENNIFER BUCKINGHAM, 2014] http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/naplan-iq-versus-poverty/story-e6frg6zo-1227031184390


"Genetics endows each and every person with a maximum IQ that can be achieved if and only if the environment is perfect for the development of this IQ." [Anon, 2009, http://the-mouse-trap.com/2009/11/04/iqses-and-heritability/]

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