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  • Pat­rina M. Clark, SPHR, HCS, RACC
    Speaker | Trainer | Con­sul­tant | Coach
03 Jun

Insan­ity Revisited

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Most of us are famil­iar with the def­i­n­i­tion of insan­ity … doing the same thing over and over again and expect­ing a dif­fer­ent result. The know­ing smile we give when we hear it, though, may just be a clue that despite our under­stand­ing the def­i­n­i­tion, we rec­og­nize our own ten­den­cies to do just that. The good news is that we are bio­log­i­cally pre­dis­posed to this behav­ior, so it doesn’t mean we’re insane; it means we’re human.

Neu­ro­science con­tin­ues to shed new light on how our brains are wired and the impli­ca­tions for our thoughts, words and deeds. What we know to be true of our­selves is that our brains very much want to move things from con­scious pro­cess­ing to auto­matic pro­cess­ing. The main rea­son for this is it is in our best inter­est from a sur­vival perspective.

Con­scious pro­cess­ing requires a tremen­dous amount of energy and quickly results in fatigue and dimin­ished per­for­mance. If we were depen­dent on con­scious pro­cess­ing for sur­vival, we would have died long ago as a species. Sub­con­scious pro­cess­ing, on the other hand, allows us to quickly scan the envi­ron­ment, pick­ing from it the pieces we need to con­firm that we are safe from dan­ger, and almost auto­mat­i­cally mov­ing us along to carry-​on with our nat­u­rally recur­ring rou­tines (brush­ing our teeth, get­ting dressed, mak­ing cof­fee, dri­ving to work … on and on).

We are bom­barded with mil­lions of pieces of infor­ma­tion every sec­ond – it would actu­ally be phys­i­cally impos­si­ble for us to take it all in at one. Our heads would fig­u­ra­tively explode. So, instead, we see what we need to see and do what we need to do to attain what­ever goals we’ve set for our­selves – both short-​term and long-​term. And, it’s impor­tant to note that these goals can be both at the con­scious and sub­con­scious level, which is why it is so impor­tant to peri­od­i­cally exam­ine our beliefs.

It is in the pur­suit of our goals that our brains scan the envi­ron­ment for things that are both help­ful and harm­ful to our suc­cess. When we detect some­thing we per­ceive as help­ful, we move toward it, repeat­ing famil­iar behav­iors that we at some point in our lives deter­mined would be suc­cess­ful to keep the object of our desires close. And, when we detect some­thing we per­ceive as harm­ful, our flight or flight response is acti­vated and we take steps to cre­ate dis­tance from the per­ceived threat.

It’s impor­tant to take note of the word “per­ceived” … it has been sci­en­tif­i­cally proven that we see what we expect to see … noth­ing more, noth­ing less; that is until we ele­vate our con­scious­ness and are inten­tion­ally present in the moment with­out expec­ta­tion or judgment.

The dif­fi­culty is that we rarely take the time to con­sciously assess whether we actu­ally per­ceive threats and rewards in a way that is enrich­ing our lives, expand­ing our joy and hap­pi­ness, our sense of pur­pose and ful­fill­ment. Nor do we take the time to con­sciously assess whether our behav­iors are indeed hav­ing the desired effect in a way that nat­u­rally feels good to us. Rather we think the same thoughts and do the same things because it’s what we’ve always done.

We too often set­tle for expla­na­tions for our per­ceived (there’s that word again!) mis­for­tunes that absolve us of respon­si­bil­ity for the cir­cum­stances – pre­fer­ring instead to squarely place the blame for the unpleas­ant­ness in our lives on some­one else or cir­cum­stances beyond our con­trol. Sadly, this robs us of our power to effec­tively move our­selves to a bet­ter place when we are indeed the only ones who truly can.

While it is absolutely true that we can some­times be sur­prised – even blind-​sided – by life’s unex­pected events, it is never true that we are pow­er­less in deal­ing with these events. When we take respon­si­bil­ity for our cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, we are able to take the lessons that they present and use these lessons to cre­ate new wiring in our brains, new ways of look­ing at the world, new ways of relat­ing to peo­ple and cir­cum­stances that free us to move us in the direc­tion of our truer selves.

So, yes, it is very human to do the same things over and over again expect­ing dif­fer­ent results. Why not use some of your super human pow­ers to actu­ally step out of this com­mon behav­ior and rede­fine your life on your own terms – live your life, your way. Seek and ye shall find. Act and ye shall know.

It is from this place of self-​love and heal­ing that we are empow­ered to con­nect with one another more com­pas­sion­ately and respond to the indi­vid­ual, social, and global chal­lenges that we must come together to solve using our col­lec­tive super human powers.

Wish­ing for you joy in abundance.

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