How we respond to certain situations depends on the way we see them, that is how they are automatically evaluated by our minds. The mechanism, already introduced is very simple: if our cognitive system assesses the situation as dangerous, the entire body will crawl and be ready to react to the alleged danger.
Being able to evaluate a potentially dangerous situation in time can make the difference between living and dying, or at least so it has been so in more remote times, when the danger of leaving our pens was on the agenda. Let’s imagine walking in the woods and glimpsing a long, slim silhouette and feeling a suspicious noise between the foliage: what do you think our brain is about? Is it a snake or a sprig? In doubt, he automatically points to the snake. The consequence is a physiological activation that facilitates escape from danger and the relative action of moving away from the place.
It does not matter at this point, whether it really was a snake or whether it was an inoffensive jar: what we are interested in is how we feel and what we do depends on how we evaluate a given situation, that is how we think about it.
… in the end it was just a sprig, and no matter what was caused. Luckily no immediate danger. Of course, we got a good scare, but in the end, everything is fine what’s fine, right?
Nowadays it is much harder to come across a snake while walking in the midst of nature, but the evaluation mechanism remains current and is more alive than ever before. That’s exactly what activates when we are faced with any event, small or large.
And as with the snake / ram, it is always possible to make evaluation errors, especially considering the “alarming” reading key of a brain that has evolved over hundreds of thousands of years just to keep us out of potential dangers.
In short , false alarms can happen and eventually it’s okay, especially if we talk about extreme situations. “Better safe than sorry,” the English would say. But how can this automatic mechanism and the alarming character in everyday life be translated? What if we systematically tend to assess situations as if they were “dangerous” when they were not really?
New dangers, old habits
At this point, we could also ask: How many of our emotional and behavioral reactions depend on a too hasty and inaccurate evaluation of reality?
Danger today is no longer the poisonous bite of a snake. Danger today is to be alone, not having enough money, feeling useless, failing to work on time. This and more is what is feared at this time, and each of us fears some more than others. But even though the world has changed, needs have changed and fears have changed, the way our brains work is always the same: fast, automatic, overpowering.
If we let go of immediate but highly fallacious evaluation mechanisms, we run the risk of making important mistakes in our way of seeing things, with often significant consequences on how we feel and what we do.
Smoke in the eyes
Yeah, because our brain is wrong much more than we imagine. And it does so in a very subtle way, strong in an authority we uncritically attribute to it given our tendency to consider “truth” whatever goes on our head.
But if we stop for a moment to evaluate those automatic thoughts, the result of a quick and unconscious first evaluation, we may find that some of the things we think are in fact absolutely wrong, if not absurd.
We are ahead of what are technically defined as cognitive distortions : logical errors of thought that affect our way of evaluating situations, and thus what we feel and the actions we accomplish. Nothing but smoke in the eyes, which prevents us from seeing clearly what we have before.
You learn by making mistakes?
In short, not always our way of thinking is so “reasonable”! Indeed, very often, we leave ourselves conditioned by our usual ways of thinking, and we finish evaluating some situations in an essentially wrong way.
What can it mean for a person suffering from depression to be labeled as incompetent in the face of a trivial difficulty? How can a person handle his anxiety if he is convinced that what will happen will surely be a disaster and there is nothing to be done to remedy it? How can a person live serenely with the relationship with their partner if they are subjected to meaningless duties, obligations, or rules?
What effect can we have on us to take the wrong conclusions to which we blindly believe? How much of what we feel, how many of the actions we make depend on logical errors like those we have seen?
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