We are all storytellers, it’s built into our instinctive mind.
For example, I recently heard, in separate news bulletins about a “Super spreader” of the Coronavirus who had infected 30 people after a travel journey.
I had separately heard that some people were refusing to be quarantined after being suspected of contracting the virus.
As a result of these two bulletins my mind created a narrative that this guy must be self-centred with no consideration for other travellers.
Furthermore I assumed he was one of the people that didn’t want to be quarantined.
My mind began to built-up a picture of what the guy possibly looks like, a sense of his arrogance, visually pushing authority away to break free from his imprisonment. Great imagination.
In reality, I don’t know who he is, what he looks like, if he indeed, actually, refused quarantine, if he even had symptoms at the time he was spreading the virus.
I found it interesting to see how my mind instinctively created, and filled gaps in knowledge with assumptions, created out of my overactive imagination.
It got me to thinking about how the mind works, not so much with sympathy but instead with judgment, I suspect this is the case for most people. In this instance, I hadn’t initially thought about the condition of the “Super spreader”, I’d immediately jumped to the conclusion about his potential guilt in knowingly spreading the virus, before my conscious thinking mind had stepped in to question this thought process, and only then did I consider the health of the individual.
Try to catch your instinctive mind in its creative process. Bring awareness to how it reacts to things that are going on around you. This is called mindfulness, it gives your conscious thinking mind time to step in and ask questions of the instinctive mind.
Is your mind instinctively inclined to come from a positive or negative point of view? Let this be part of your self-awareness practice. My thoughts indicated I’m quick to judge. I’m not particularly sympathetically inclined, instinctively, otherwise I’d have been more concerned about the man’s condition.
I suspect this is the case with most people, because the instinctive mind is designed for self protection, so it is fear driven. It’s design to look for danger, to think the worst of people and situations, so as not to become a victim of them.
Use your imaginative, instinctive mind to create good stories of fiction, rather than waste its built-in creativity, but don’t let it shape your opinion of reality. Don’t let it form beliefs, that you hold with some degree of certainty. It’s creative and imaginative, but it’s not accurate, most of the time.
The thing with the Instinct is, it is creative, imaginative, but often light on evidence-based facts. It is directly connected to our emotions and nervous system, which means it is very persuasive in its storytelling, if we aren’t conscious of how and why it works.
The way to step out of the instinctive minds influence, is to bring awareness to it, and allow the conscious thinking mind to step in and question its ramblings. Awareness gives you the space needed to prevent being drawn into the emotions and subsequent reactions.
You are not your thoughts, and they are not you. You are the observer of them, in the same you are not your instinctive mind, it is your self-preservation instinct, but you are so much more, by engaging your conscious thinking mind to take control.
The instinctive mind is a great tool, but a destructive master. Make sure the conscious thinking mind is in control and you won’t go far wrong.