Learning to Appreciate Your Mind

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Do you ever think about how you think?

Last night, I sat down at my mom’s puzzle table and started working on her half-completed puzzle. I realized midway through that I wasn’t even thinking about where pieces went – just picking up pieces and putting them in place. It doesn’t work all the time, but I’m astounded when it does. My mind is working without me being consciously aware of and active in it.

There are perks to the problem-solving aspects of my personality, but also pitfalls. Thinking is such an intense part of my life that I can sometimes forget to stop thinking and let my mind work on its own. It’s when I think too hard about something that I find it difficult to do. If I stop and think, how do I do this? I have no idea. Trying to plot out logically a novel is difficult – the days I’m actively “plotting” and writing at the same time, it’s a laborious, frustrating process. But the days I just get up and write, I wind up with 4,000 words in one shot, and my plot going exactly where it needs to go, without me guiding it there. The story just unfolds under my fingertips.

Sometimes I just “know” things, but can’t explain them – that this person is untrustworthy, that that writer has an agenda that conflicts with my beliefs even if it isn’t surface-apparent, that something specific is going to happen, or that this person is guilty. The odd thing about my mind is that unless I’m actively engaging it (in conversation, or concentrating hard on something) … it’s quiet. There are no viable thoughts floating around in it. I just sit down and type. I can lay down, stare at the ceiling, and not think about anything.

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Emotional attachment is something I have to do myself – it doesn’t happen naturally. I make a conscious choice to invest emotionally –or not. I remember one of my beloved friends in tears over the second season finale of Sherlock, and I asked her, “Why? You know Sherlock isn’t dead.” She attached to the emotion of John’s reaction, and identified with it while being touched by their friendship … and I hadn’t. I saw the logical conclusion (I’ve read the books, I know where this is going) and disengaged my emotional response. I can build an emotional investment over time, but it takes just that – time.

Once we understand ourselves and how we relate to the world and everything that goes on in it, it’s much easier to appreciate ourselves for who we are rather than compare ourselves negatively to the minds around us. I’m not delighted that I get easily distracted by new ideas and thoughts, but I love the fact that my instincts are so sharp. I enjoy disengaging from my environment and letting my subconscious mind do all the work. But I can also appreciate the mind of my friend – how she will remember who gave her what, and attach special memories to every single item in her room. I don’t understand it, and I can’t imagine doing it, but I love it about her.

There are pros and cons to every mind, but once we “get” why we are the way we are, it’s easier to like ourselves.

6 thoughts on “Learning to Appreciate Your Mind

  1. I think my flood of tears also had something to do with watching the season 2 finale after midnight. I’m always more vulnerable in the wee hours. And yes, I did connect to John’s emotions. I saw the scene as he saw it, and felt what he felt, as if I would lose someone close to me, and it literally broke my heart. Logic had no part to play in what my emotions were doing during that finale. It’s weird, in a way, because I’m usually not like that. I don’t cry over films all that much anymore, but this one just caught me off guard. Like when Sherlock left John’s wedding early. Another inexplicable moment of bursting into tears because he was alone and I didn’t want him to be alone.

    This post made me smile. A lot. *hugs*

    • That probably was a factor, yes.

      I cry over things if I stop to consider their emotions at the time — if I don’t, I don’t cry. It’s strange. I’m an easy crier over movies but less so in real life (unless it’s out of frustration, heh). I never know what is or isn’t going to tug on my emotions — but if I know a death isn’t final, I’m unlikely to cry about it.

  2. I think I’m a fair judge of people, but emotion definitely clouds my judgement of them. If my first impression is a good one, I have a hard time reconciling that to finding out said person isn’t a good one. Or if I first view you in a bad light, and then later you change (or I was wrong), it’s hard for me to put away my feelings of distaste when dealing with you.

    I love when my story carries me away like you described. I worked on a story like that in college. Looking back, I think it was probably awful, but I would get lost in it. I will rewrite it one day because I know better what I’m doing, and I hope to get lost in it as I once was.

    • It can be difficult to overcome past preconceptions — and yet, we all make them. We either like someone or we don’t! And sometimes, there’s no real rhyme or reason why!

      Getting lost in a good story is always fun — even more so if you happen to be the one writing it! :)

  3. Brava! Brava! Bravissima!

    Another fantastic post!!! I was actually talking about this with my Mom the other day, trying to explain the intuitive mindset to her, not just in the context of MBTI but in terms of how some people have a different approach to life and the world in general. (She had a hard time getting it, in fact I think she grasps the differences between thinkers and feelers a bit more easily–because she’s married to my ESTJ Dad?)

    What you say about emotional attachment is interesting–because I’ve known people who get worked up into hysterical sobs over a TV show–but then are unmoved by a horrific news story?

    Actually emotional investment–or lack thereof–is partly why I’ve never really “fangirled” anyone. I mean, yes, he might be a talented actor, easy on the eyes, but–he’s just some guy, somewhere far away who doesn’t even know you exist! He might even be a jerk in real life! Even if he’s not, he might be married/dating, he’s probably not a Christian, (thus someone you wouldn’t even want to date, even if you could) and your chances of ever meeting him are slim. So why lavish so much adoration on him?

    Yeah, I know some people are a lot more prone to “knowing” things than others, that vague unease you feel, before you even name a concrete reason. I actually think everyone feels this at some point, but some of us are more prone to it than others.

    OK, a while back I was reading a biography of Robert Oppenheimer (whom I thought sounded like a possible INTP?) and it said that from childhood onward, he enjoyed analyzing, and carefully re-examining the world around him. In high school he was sent to a special school (favored by the wealthy) where part of the teaching method involved encouraging students to engage in even deeper analysis, and question all information that came to them. As a result of this and other experiences, he said he reached a point some years later, at about age 30, where his tendency to over-analyze became downright “paralyzing”. He was always thinking–and rethinking rather than doing. Fortunately after a mini-crisis of sorts, he was able to move past this. (Then before I could finish I had to return the book to the library. Phooey!)

    I applaud your ability to both plot and write though you find it difficult, for I find it impossible! Usually I have to plot out several chapters in my head, then write them the next day, and so on.

    Wait–so you can actually think about nothing? No conscious thoughts moving across the surface of your mind? Fascinating! (Uh-oh…I realized I sound just like Spock o.O ) At an early age I read a book that mentioned the idea of “empty your mind” and I tried it…and couldn’t! There seems to always be something shifting there. Since then I’ve read various books, (ranging from philosophy to self-help) that say things like “your mind is never really quiet” or “the human mind can be a blank slate”.

    The differences between minds account for a lot of things, like why when a friend says they have a problem, their friends reactions can range from “We’ll sit down and brainstorm tonight on how to solve it!” to “Nah, you need a break, c’mon, I’m taking you out to eat, watch a movie, take your mind off your problems, and something’ll come to you.”

    There’s the dangerous tendency to slip into believing that one’s mindset is the only one that “makes sense”, people tend to assume others are like themselves–and if not–they should be! The artistic types assume those content with a basic 9-5 job are “soulless drones”, the people contented to work in a corporate cubicle, so long as it means going home to the loving family they help to support with that job, feel that anyone who longs for something different must be “unreliable, or unstable”.

    Sometimes I just “know” things, but can’t explain them – that this person is untrustworthy, that that writer has an agenda that conflicts with my beliefs even if it isn’t surface-apparent, that something specific is going to happen, or that this person is guilty.

    Don’t get me started! This has often occurred to me when watching TV series, reading books etc;, I realize most people in Hollywood are liberal, and this is reflected in what they produce. But I think some directors, writers etc; are interested in telling a good, entertaining story first, and if their personal beliefs show through, this is just a secondary aspect. But others seem to essentially use any films or publications they produce as a vehicle or mouthpiece for their beliefs. (His Dark Materials anyone?)

    • Your first sentence started me in on a Phantom of the Opera musical loop. Thanks for that.

      My emotions are strange, foreign things. I’ll either cry or I won’t. If it’s something I’ve had time to invest myself in emotionally, I will cry – sometimes for myself, and sometimes because my Fe kicks in and I feel their suffering and sadness. I just finished my Doctor Who rewatch and cried twice in the last season – when the Ponds “died,” and when the Doctor regenerates. It was a combination of selfish sadness and feeling sorry for other people. But I don’t think I’ve ever cried over a news story. It’s made me terribly angry at injustices and cruelty, but not cry.

      I emotionally distance myself from actors because, like you, I don’t see the point in caring. If you take it one step further, the awareness that if he/she dies they are likely not going to heaven makes it worse. You have to throw up that mental barrier or it hurts to lose them.

      Everyone has intuition – literally, as one of their functions. No one is without it. But the stronger it is, the more aware you are of it and the more distrustful you are of untrustworthy people. (INTPs are the most untrusting people alive, just for the record. So in addition to our tendency to over-analyze, we are paranoid.)

      I often go into a chapter with an idea of where I’m going – but to do too much careful planning stifles my imagination. I’m aware at all times of “is this interesting?” and if it isn’t, I throw something in there that is unexpected. (Ahh, the perks of writing speculative fiction, otherwise known as “you can do whatever the hell kind of crazy you want, and no one can say it never happened!”).

      Yes, I can mentally shut down and be a blank slate. I’m sure my brain is functioning on a subconscious level, but I can actually turn off my thoughts – not when I’m actively engaged at 3am, though, unfortunately. =p

      Philip Pullman is a hypocrite. He complains about Lewis using his beliefs to “indoctrinate children,” then turns around and does the exact same thing in his trilogy. I haven’t read the books, but I saw the first movie and it had “anti-Catholic propaganda” stamped all over it. It was actually hilarious, given how adamant he is about how wrong it is to inject your personal beliefs into your fiction. What I find most interesting is when I’m drawn to something over and over again, because subconsciously I KNOW there is something under the surface there, but I’m not sure what it is. Sometimes, I never figure it out – and at other times, in time it becomes apparent to me – either something that is really “bothering me” proves an agenda at work, or something that really draws me has a spiritual side.

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