Observing others’ behaviors is, in itself, rather healthy. It allows us to appropriately anticipate and react to kindness or threat from others, which serves to give us motivation (anticipating kindness) or information to protect ourselves (anticipating threat). However, “binocular behavior”, as I call it, is a dysfunctional level of this observation behavior – when we try too hard to anticipate kindness or threat. Relating to the world from a distance, we distort reality in ways that cause us to lose our motivation or to create feelings of insecurity. Gifted people, with their strong imaginative, abstracting and pattern recognition skills – in combination with their general intensity of mind and experience – sometimes use their “binoculars” to create very elaborate, if misguided, theories about what is happening in others’ minds, the results of which can be socially unpleasant and painful. This article aims at helping gifted individuals put down their binoculars and relate directly with the world, and to understand the crucial role that differences in cognitive timing play in the tendency to pick them up in the first place.
Many people equate emotions with feelings, but they are two different things. Many people also believe their thoughts are their feelings, and that is not the case either. Understanding the differences, links and feedback loops between emotion, feeling, and thought is an important basic understanding in psychological and emotional health. This, as well as the differences between self-experienced emotion and carried emotion, are foundational aspects for gaining conscious control over one’s self and one’s life experiences.
Chaos, disorder, volatility, turmoil, errors, and uncertainty – among other factors commonly perceived as negative – are not necessarily our enemies. Nassim Nicholas Taleb points out once again in his latest masterwork, Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder, that we live in a “Black Swan” world where unpredictable events that have maximum impact on our lives happen necessarily and, well, unpredictably. These events are “Black Swans” in Taleb’s prose. In our complex, modern lives, these factors – chaos, disorder, volatility, turmoil, errors and uncertainty – are not a matter of choice; they exist and in ever-increasing quantities. We will run into them, or they will run into us. So, instead of positioning ourselves against them, why not use them as “friends” or at least as “allies” in our development of self?
How many years do searchers of peace spend looking, but never finding it? And how many conclude that, just maybe, it’s not possible at all, resigning themselves to isolated moments of peace within a more general state of chaos and inner inquietude? Peace is possible, but seems impossible until you find it. We in some way expect to find it as an external “thing,” some physical object found in our outer environment, or as a lifestyle that provides an inner security. But once found, we are often surprised to learn that peace is different than we thought it would be. It is not external. It arises as if spontaneously from a more internal process – a self-catalyzing end-process that springs from an inner “organized” chaos. Thinking about collectively autocatalytic systems helps understand why this is the case, and how we can encourage the seemingly spontaneous arousal of peace in our lives.