Thursday, January 20, 2011


I've been reading a book by Malcolm Gladwell called Blink. I hadn't known about the book or intended to read it, but I happened to be having a particularly pensive day where I was trying to figure out why it was that sometimes I had a sense of what choices were best and yet I still did not act on them, when I came across the book.

I opened it to a story about a statue that was sold to the Getty museum after it was scientifically determined that it was authentic. However, four or five specialists knew that it was a fake without any scientific study- in fact, they knew it the instant they looked at it, even though they couldn't explain how they knew. It turned out they were right, and Gladwell uses this to lead into his theme - looking at the moment of experience that happens in a blink of an eye when we fully grasp a situation.

The problem is, we aren't always conscious of this moment, because this process is largely unconscious.

Blink explains why we should give more credence to this ability - many times, we can formulate more accurate judgments in one moment than we can after careful deliberation and study.

Of course I got excited about it. Being told that analytical, logical, fully conscious processes can be more harmful than helpful is just what I'm ripe for hearing. Since I've been working on balancing my left and right brain I have been trying to assure myself that even though I still can't always respond without a safety net, I'm on the right track.

I certainly believe in the intuitive mind. There have been many times when I've had a quick insight that something might be going on in a situation, that I understand what a person is feeling even though their emotions suggest otherwise, or that I will have more success if i take a certain action, and it turns out to be right. In fact, I experience it rather frequently.


Meaning- I know it in the moment and i know how i can act as a result of that knowledge but i act in a different way out of fear, only to experience being incorrect and stewing in the knowledge that my initial urge was what i should have acted on. In these moments, I'm not letting myself play fully, not being completely fluid in my thoughts/actions.

As if in response to this distress call, the book assured me that the intuitive mind can result in faulty behavior. This happens when the left brain shuts it down instantaneously, before it is allowed to fully form as a thought capable of being expressed by the conscious mind. The resulting action is based on half-knowledge, and it looks as thought the intuition was incorrect.

Ah ha! Refer to my recent post on my posture while running. I experienced just that.

Oh silly brain, what clever tricks you play. I'd rather use that wit and quickness for entertaining connversations, rather than using it to build a shield against the very things I enjoy.

So what I'm concluding from all of this - I can't force myself to find deeper clarity within my unconscious, but I can have better control over allowing the uncontrolled understanding in my unconscious (so many un-s!) to enter more freely through the gate into my conscious brain. I must gain more control of the gate, but relinquish control of my intuition.

I have been focusing too much on trying to control my unconscious - and explain it in words. I must have been thinking that if I said enough words, perhaps my unconscious would emerge excitedly and say, "I've been hiding, but your amazing logic talked me out and made my abstract nature more coherent and controllable - thanks!"

My intuition suggests I have control issues.

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