My brain : I interpret therefore I am

My brain

My current ideas and beliefs are the result of my past world; my world since birth. These ideas and beliefs influence my interpretation of the future world; the new situations in which I find myself and that I attempt to understand.

I interpret the present according to the ideas and beliefs born of the past … 

I had coffee with an old friend yesterday; old in the number of years that we have known each other but also old in the more general sense … he has grown old.

In body, yes; but that is expected.

But in mind, I assumed that one could counteract ‘growing old’.

My friend – his thoughts have calcified, his anger intensified, his belief that he is being treated unfairly now cemented …  

His view of the world is clouded by his profession. As a lawyer, he sees the negative in nearly every part of society, on a daily basis. It is impossible to overcome that. It is impossible to, when you see the world’s nasty parts on an everyday basis, not presume that the world is a nasty place with nasty people. 

But it really isn’t. People are busy with their own lives – we are all self-absorbed. We may not understand how our actions affect others – but that doesn’t mean that our actions are intentionally nasty – just absent of empathetic thought. 

It’s always easier to look to someone else’s situation and see how their interpretation could be different. It is more difficult when one is faced with one’s own interpretation of events.

I could interpret my friend’s thoughts as ‘astute’ or, with the time spent in the job, indicative of reality.  I could assume that his negativity is based on the fact that he woke up too early and couldn’t get back to sleep – that he had too many emails in his inbox – that he hadn’t eaten breakfast. I could be mistaking permanent signs of ageing for a workload that is temporarily overwhelming, or a family life that is causing worry… 

But I chose to interpret my friend’s demeanour and ideas on his continued involvement in his profession.

Fundamental cognitive error – my interpretation of events and my assumption that my interpretation is the only one available…in some cases I simply don’t recognise the fact that I have made any assumption at all.

I left my friend’s profession over 8 years ago now. My belief is that the profession is a negative one. It saps energy. It highlights the bad and underestimates the good. It promotes lack of trust. It promotes the idea that there is ‘black’ and ‘white’ in a society – where I suspect that (but am not completely comfortable with) it is mostly grey.

I interpret the present according to the ideas and beliefs born of the past …

My friend is mentally older than when I last saw him – that is because of the profession in which he works.

But equally …

My friend is mentally older than when I last saw him – that is because his parents are ageing and requiring of constant care…

Or …

My friend is not mentally older than when I last saw him – I have simply interpreted his demeanour against my particularly good mood that was sensitive to any negativity.

 

 

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