How to explain the things that happen to us in everyday life? Well, it depends on a multitude of factors, the recipe has a few ingredients.
First, we have our genetic endowment, which functions as a floor and a ceiling for all of our possibilities. Genes are a heritage that cannot be changed, but there is something about what we have power over: our thoughts and, by extension, the way we think about what happens to us.
Genes: the fixed part of us
Genes, of course, condition us, they are the basis of all our virtues, but also of our faults.. For practical purposes, they function as a set of guidelines or instructions that predispose us to move one way or the other.
But of course, that’s not the end of the problem. Genes are constantly influenced and shaped by the environment. Within it we have the culture we are immersed in, the type and quality of education we have received, as well as the personality traits and relational style of our own parents.
The school we go to, our classmates and childhood friends, each of the different experiences, good and bad, that we must have had growing up, interacting with our genes and contributing their grain of sand because we become what we finally are.
How we feel, how we behave and relate to the world depends on the final cocktail of all these different elements mixing together.
Those that cannot be changed
Of course, there is not much we can do about these factors.. The biological parents who touched us by luck are immutable, which means that we cannot trade them for others, or do anything to improve them, if we so desire.
The same applies to the genes that touched us in the lottery of life and every fact that we experience during our childhood and adolescence; the time machine that allows us to travel through the past to make the changes that are right for us was not invented and it seems neither will be.
But there are other variables that we have the greatest interference on, like our thinking, in the here and now, in the present moment, and I assure you, who is reading these lines right now, that thoughts play a crucial role in how we see and interpret the world.
Confuse thoughts with reality
Most of the time, we make the mistake of believing that our thoughts are reality itself, and it is easy to fall into such a mistake for several reasons.
First, thoughts are an invisible process. They can’t see, they can’t touch each other and many times we are not even aware that we are thinking. But we do; in fact, we think all the time, and even if we don’t realize it, everything that goes through our brain has a direct influence on what we feel, and therefore, how we act.
We must also keep in mind that our thoughts are happening precisely in our brain, they are ours, they are ours, they are trapped in our head, therefore, we cannot compare them with the thoughts of others. Being isolated, it is easy for them to end up becoming for us our absolute truth.
The invisible thought process
Everything we think is in our reality without our realizing it; we end up homologating what is happening inside our mind with what is happening outside.
But one thing is what we think is happening, and another is what is actually happening. And the irony of it all is that what we think is happening is the only thing that really matters when we have to make a decision. From this idea, we imagine a few situations.
The case of the plane
You find yourself flying in a commercial aircraft at an altitude of 10,000 meters when, suddenly, the ship enters an area of turbulence. Since we don’t have a lot of travel experience, the first thing we think about is, “My God, the plane is going to crash and we are all going to die. Oh no … I’m going to die, I’m going die …!”.
Under this thought (and I insist, it’s just a thought, which doesn’t necessarily have to correspond to reality) it is very likely that fear will invade us. We will experience tachycardia, tremors all over the body, anxiety possibly uncontrollable, and a feeling that we are going to pass out at any moment. In short, the experience will be extremely unpleasant.
Instead, if in the same context we think, “Well, let’s get into the turbulence. I hope it happens soon and that’s how they serve dinner”; I think it goes without saying that our emotions and the resulting physiological response will be very different.
The following graphic is intended to show the sequence of steps you can experience in both cases:
Objective fact: Zone of turbulence
The case of the appointment
Another case: a woman is left in a cafe with a man she has just met on a social network. The boy in question looks like a good young man, and the times they exchanged messages he was cordial and intelligent, just as she loved him. A good match, without a doubt.
However, 20 minutes after occupying a table, at the appointed time, there is no news or record of him. Then he thinks, “I must have imagined him, he didn’t like it, and he clearly didn’t dare when I invited him to see us.”
Another option could be: “Hey guys, after all this has turned out to be disrespectful. But who do you think is keeping me waiting like this …?”
In the first case, the woman is likely to feel depressed, hopeless, or both. He may even cry for several days, and his thoughts will continue for quite a while along the same lines: “I’m horrible, I’m worth nothing as a person, no one will ever love me.” In the second case, you will feel upset, angry, and you will likely have moody outbursts when talking to other people.
But the truth is that the date woman, faced with the delay of her potential Blue Prince, might also be thinking, “It’s a fact: he’s going to be late. Maybe it would have been better to quote it in a cafe closer to home, to get here you have to cross half of the city. “This is what lawyers call a ‘presumption of innocence.’ In other words, it is desirable that we always try to guide our thoughts on the assumption that no one is to blame, Until proven otherwise.
The case of the portfolio
A grandfather forgets his wallet on the counter of a drugstore where he went to buy blood pressure medication. The next day he lost his glasses and, above all, his wife commented on it in passing, who recently saw him very distracted. The man remembers his mother suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
“I have Alzheimer’s disease. I inherited it… ”he thinks. “These are the first symptoms, that’s how she started,” she recalls.
He can’t sleep tonight. He keeps thinking of the disastrous and inexorable fate he thinks awaits. Obsessed with the idea, he begins to interpret every little oversight he has in his daily life as a symptom of the disease. Worried, abstracted by his dark speculations, he stops paying attention to what others say to you, which in turn leads some to tell him that they see him as abstract, as lost, disconnected from the world. And it’s here that the protagonist of this hypothetical case goes into crisis and, desperately, calls his doctor on the phone to request an urgent interview.
Of course, if the old man had thought, “I’ve been very stressed out lately and that doesn’t make me lend Pay enough attention to what I’m doing, I’d better find a way to relax a bit “, another would surely be the end of it.
A final example
Another illustrative example: the new office colleague who joined the company last week, walks alongside him down one of the hallways for any morning and fails to greet him. you have two options:
- You might think he’s a mean man.
- He may think he may not have seen it, or that he was abstracted in his own worries.
The transformative power of thought
There is a common denominator in all situations: you think. And what you think may or may not correspond to reality.
If we think our partner is rude then we probably feel ignored and bored, and now very predisposed towards them, which in turn will cause that partner to start being hostile. I insist once again: a characteristic error of human beings is to confuse their own thoughts with reality.
What we think is just that, a thought. But reality is something beyond our brain. And this is vitally important, because what we think can determine how we feel and what we will do as a result.