The Brain, pattern matching and more

It seems always easier to recognize in someone else, then in oneself.

Perhaps it starts with a small but unpleasant event.  Your faucet starts leaking, you have to call the plumber, you are reminded of that time your dishwasher broke, and then when your car needed new brakes, your mind is now flooded with memories of every negative experience that has happened in the past 12-18 months, and you reach the "inescapable" conclusion that you just can't "get ahead" that there always seems to be something just around the corner waiting, lurking to ruin your day, your's just not fair, when will you ever get a break? You suddenly look to your 'neighbor' and wonder why he/she seems to get all the easy breaks, while you are stuck dealing with some new shitty thing each and every day!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The brain, for all its wonders and marvels, is at its core, a pattern matching device, when an event happens it searches for relationships, past experiences trying desperately to draw conclusions between  events to string things together in some type of logical (generally time based) order.

This, of course, is how we have become great problem solvers, and made amazing discoveries like gravity, and electricity. It is also what makes strong artificial intelligence very hard if not impossible. However, it is also a terrible curse, for the same pattern recognition process that form the scientific method, also hold the responsibility for our  lowered moods, our depression.

We experience the world subjectively. We see an event and we interpret that event as within a chain of events that make up "our story". The positive and negative attributes we associate to it are a direct relationship to past events that our brain matches (finds that pattern).  But we tend to take the conclusions we reach as objective and factual, perhaps even becoming annoyed at a third party who listens to our woes and yet does not reach the same 'sucky' conclusion that we do.  Do they not really understand? Do they not care?

I try to live by the idea, that we really only have control of one thing, and that one thing is our mind, what we let into it, how we interpret it, and how we let it effect us. Becoming upset is a natural occurrence of a bad situation, however at some point, continuing to wallow in our misery moves from being a choice we make. Replaying events over and over re-enforcing the negativity is something we have the power to re-wire.  This is not to say that it is easy, but it is possible.

And while it is not easy to always practice what I preach, I find it much easier to recognize when another person I care about is stuck in the same cycle, that I am familiar with, or perhaps project that experience onto them - who knows?

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