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Practical ways of counteracting obsession

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Practical ways of 

counteracting obsession



Humans easily create mental models which do not match reality. We collect partial, inaccurate “facts” – and then over-react with imaginary (positive or negative) interpretive predictions. Obsession can be destructive whether the emotion is “attraction” (jealousy, stalking) or “rejection” (fear, anger, hate).

Humans are natural error-producing machines. “Words-in-the-mind” play tremendous roles. Any one emotion is usually exactly one mind-sentence long. Sometimes it ends there (only in the mind) and sometimes a person takes action. Fortunately, words can also purposefully be used to gain a better alignment with reality and promote more appropriate emotions and actions. Here are a few suggestions on how to counteract the tendency to make thinking-errors.

(A) Awareness of Abstraction. Beliefs are creative compilations of personal perceptions plus information selectedly sifted from outside sources. Language plays a huge role. Any given word can have the effect of creating a “rut-in-the-mind” which tends to channel incoming data into limited thinking. This natural “abstraction-process” causes a person to lose information about the real world by (1) ignoring pertinent information, or (2) total unawareness. A belief cemented on inaccurate data causes problems. Two common rut-producing and emotion-driving words are: deserve and not-fair. Humans would do well to be consciously aware of this “information-loss” and counteract it.

(B) Blank. A practical way to counteract is to “add-a-blank” to any list you make – whether a grocery list or what you think you know about another person’s life and motivations. The “blank” gives your mind the incentive to add information (rather than closing off with partial knowledge). When you add a new item to the list (bacon!) – then add another blank. It is a reminder of staying open to the complexity of human knowledge.

(C) Continuums. The environment presents great diversity. Observe the continuum-variations of any color (light-to-dark) or height (short-to-tall). Similarly, human experiences and motivations range/change widely as mental models shift and compete. Therefore, expect change and tolerate some inconsistency – both in others and in yourself.

Changing a belief is difficult. More realistic perceptions/beliefs may (no guarantee) result in less fear, anger and hate – and better decisions. Is it worth the effort?

Gene Johnson


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