Clear Processing of Information
Thinking comes naturally. Everyone does it. Not everyone does it well.
This Chambered Nautilus program is designed to help participants process their ideas and problem solving techniques in a clear, logical, rational manner. There are skills and principles to be learned and used in developing positive habits of clear and constructive thought processing.
If rational information processing were all there is to it we would build a whole program on that topic alone. It certainly is important enough to be studied in considerable depth. However, our focus is on how the very thought process itself can be disrupted by a lack of awareness of the role that emotions play in information processing.
Segment 5 of our program, Clear Processing of Information, deals with basic tools of rational thinking. Other Segments in the Chambered Nautilus Training Group program demonstrate how the thinking process can be most effective when used habitually, and not slip into the kinds of unconscious emotional distortions we sometimes allow to cloud our thinking process. There are essential aspects of anger, stress, anxiety, fear, etc., that are significantly affected by the way that we think. It is very important that our thought process be well tuned to objectivity and valid information.
Elements of Information Processing;
(1.) Increasing our awareness of how we think
We begin by emphasizing an important shift in awareness regarding our reasoning powers. We wish to emphasize the fact that the brain, as a part of our body, is intimately affected by other body functions and states. Pain, fear, anger, hunger all can have a strong effect on how well we are able to think and even what we actually think about. We’ve all experienced the “I’m so tired I can’t even think straight” moments.
The distinctness of thought (brain function) as opposed to the other body functions is apparent to everyone, but the degree of distinctness, we believe, is generally over stated.
The brain does not think in isolation. Thoughts are often challenged by strong feelings about a given topic, thus threatening the validity of our decision-making from the start.
We will use the term ThinkingBody throughout our presentations to remind everyone that we are thinking-bodies and need to have an increased awareness of the body’s influence on our rational processing.
ThinkingBody is an awkward word and sometimes we use the equally awkward BodyThinking because there are no current terms that work well with this perspective and the concept is completely fundamental to our program.
It’s what is going on in the brain that makes all the difference.
Before going any further let’s look at a couple of ideas.
- What I call reality is dependent on my personal perception of my environment and its events;
- My actions/behaviors flow from these perceptions and my underlying beliefs;
- It is possible to change my perceptions and beliefs and thus modify my behaviors;
- Before I undertake serious attempts at change, it is important to clarify and understand my personal perceptions and beliefs.
The road to change or positive adaptation begins at home, with logical process and clear thought processing. Clear thought processing should be my normal state of mind. Unfortunately this is not so for many of us. The need to proceed with good decision-making has to start with a sincere effort to un-muddle my own thought processes.
Let’s look at some problematic situations that arise for most of us at one time or another and examine them in relation to our mental states of perception. Some of the situations might entail a wide mix of emotions and possible responses. Troubling events often provoke anger responses, frustration, blaming, etc. They may also present moral conflicts and dilemmas. The end result might be increased anxiety, insecurity, a loss of courage, heightened discouragement and reinforced negative suppositions and beliefs. Can these situations all be solved by using clear thinking alone? Of course not. Will I be better able to handle crises of frustration, anger, moral dilemma, etc., if I habitually operate from a thought base of positive, clear thinking? Absolutely. No doubt about it. Would you jump into an athletic competition – football game, bicycle race, a downhill slalom or a marathon without first training for it?
Why then do we think that because we have gone to school or trained for our jobs that we will automatically be fit and able to adapt to the almost daily changes that we confront us? Why are we surprised when we struggle and fail? Is it worth your time and effort to train your thought processes to adapt quickly, effectively, ethically in any situation? That is what Clear Thought Processing is meant to do.
We are way ahead of the game if we can operate from a calm, disciplined mind. Let’s look at some things like self-talk, rationalizations, irrational beliefs, irrational fear, and worry and examine the physiology of attention – the mind/body perception of phenomena.
We have already seen that where the mind goes so goes my interpretive response. In many cases, regardless of my state of mind, be it fear, anxiety, anger, a rush of joy, etc., the physiology of the response is roughly the same. How it begins and the pattern that it follows is remarkably similar for everyone, but most people are not aware of the process. Awareness creates solutions.
Take an example of a person walking down a street into the sun, a short distance from his destination but in an unfamiliar neighborhood. A figure appears, walking toward him on the same side of the street. Because the figure is back-lit by the sun low in the sky, the distinguishing features are not entirely clear. The subject’s interpretive response feels like this: a little quickening of the pulse, a slight tingling in the stomach, a slight increase in the breathing rate, maybe a little twinge in the fingers or knees, all of which symptoms increase noticeably as the person comes closer!
What emotions might this person be feeling?
Fear? The subject is in an unfamiliar area, the figure is not entirely recognizable, the perceived context is one of possible danger because of the unknown area, and it is getting late in the day, etc. Fear could easily be the feeling going on.
Anxiety? The subject does not like the uncertainty of the situation and wonders at the body’s response. It seems to be telling him something uncertain and he begins to worry that maybe he should avoid the on-coming figure, start walking back where he came from; worry that he won’t accomplish his reason for walking here in the first place, etc.
Anger? The subject is unhappy that he has chosen this particular route to walk and that his peace of mind in being interrupted by this stranger. He begins to scold himself for his poor decision and the resulting frustration.
Joy? The subject is not sure but begins to think that the person walking toward him is actually a special friend he has not seen in a long time and feels the anticipation of a happy encounter coming closer.
Nothing has changed in the environment outside the subject but we can clearly see that it is the interpretation that the thinker is putting on the scenario that determines the emotion, while the sensations are the same in each case.
The process is identical; the end result can very different. The subject needs to clarify the information before acknowledging the sentiment. It would be counter productive to run away from a harmless stranger or an old friend; useless to worry about what might happen because the possibilities are just about infinite; detrimental to one’s health to beat oneself up over a mistake that never happened, and so on.
The implications are far-reaching. We don’t even need the external stimulus to be present. Memory of an event, imagination constructing an event, all sorts of mental plotting can initiate the process and drive me to emotional distraction. Controlled emotional responses support clear thinking and positive outcomes.
Chambered Nautilus Training Programs continually stress awareness of the role that emotions play in our judgments. We think with our entire body. We are ThinkingBodies. Other Segments of our program emphasize these emotive reactions. This Segment 5 stresses the need for disciplined thought processes that are necessary to maintain the integrity of our ThinkingBody reactions.