Can we change our programming?
Personality / Thinking process
If we continue with the computer/brain analogy from the previous article, in a way, we are programmed too. We are the sum of our choices. What we frequently do, becomes habit. And can be thought of as our default start up application. (this would be our assumptions and predispositions). If we believe we are “this”, we will respond in line with only “this”. Think of it as a set code which we’ve scripted, and which we will follow by default. (IFTTT)
There are tons of ways people have categorised thinking, I’ve included only a fraction of them below:
Opposing Categories of Types of Thinking
- Concrete Thinking vs. Abstract Thinking.
- Convergent Thinking vs. Divergent Thinking.
- Creative Thinking vs. Analytical Thinking.
- Sequential (linear) Thinking vs. Holistic Thinking
All these types of thinking can be used to alter a single thought into innumerable possibilities. And these modes of thinking need to be balanced against each other. Reframing the problem using various modes. Technically, we are split. The mind is able to hold multiple opposing ideas. Or find truth in multiple opposing ideas. There’s ambiguity and paradoxes in everything. It simply boils down to choice. We tell ourselves what we choose to see. We decide what we incorporate into our belief system. Once we’re aware of the various methods of thinking, we are better able to assess our own thinking. And use more methods of problem solving.
We can expand and contract an idea, use analysis and creativity within our thoughts…sequential thinking can be holistic when viewed as an expanding spiral…it’s still holistic and sequential. We can review based on cause and effect and problems within systems, connected to more problems connected to other problems.
Or opportunities connected to more opportunities which inspire change.
These categories are better reframed as complimentary instead of opposing categories.
What are the various modes of thinking?
Cognitive processes (information processing system)
Perception, recognition, imagining, remembering, thinking, judging, reasoning, problem solving, conceptualizing, and planning. These cognitive processes can emerge from human language, thought, imagery, and symbols.
Our preferred cognitive processes puts us in various boxes…These boxes/categories create 16 personality types. I’m claustrophobic, I hate boxes. I don’t want to be put in a box. But I must admit, I have found some value in it, in order to review my own flaws and weaknesses.
Or think of it this way, if there are 5 main types of thinking styles, and we always resort to merely one style, we are simply limiting ourselves and inhibiting innovation, change and sustainability in the greater scheme of things.
What are the various thinking styles?
There are 5 Big thinking styles:
- Pragmatist Thinkers
- Analyst Thinkers
- Realist Thinkers
I came across the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and found that it was merely a theory inspired by Carl Jung’s speculation. If you want to try to gauge how you view the world, it’s an ok starting point. But it’s about as real as reading a horoscope. Realise that the way you answer the questionaire today, may differ from how you answer it in a different context. Eg. good vs bad mood. Angry vs joyful.
Finding the differences. Analytical thinking is a bridge linking the strategic thinking with “imaginative”creative thinking. Enabling us to understand the parts of the situation/system/problem. To breaks things down into their component parts. (Difficulty level 1: Everyone can do it)
Finding the similarities. Synthetical thinking enables us to understand how these components work together. Finding patterns across components/problems/systems. (Difficulty level 1: Everyone can do it)
Process we use for reflection, assessing, judging underlying assumptions of our own and others ideas. (involves logical thinking and reasoning including skills such as comparison, classification, sequencing, cause/effect, patterning, webbing (semantic mapping), analogies, deductive and inductive reasoning, forecasting, planning, hypothesizing, and critiquing.) — Something anyone is able to do. (Difficulty level 1: Everyone can do it)
Process to develop unique ideas which are useful and worth further elaboration. Involves creating something new or original. Looking at problems/situations from a fresh perspective that suggests unconventional solutions (which may look unsettling at first). Creative thinking can be stimulated both by an unstructured process such as brainstorming, and by a structured process such as lateral thinking. To perceive the world in new ways, find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and generate solutions. (Difficulty level 1: Everyone can do it)
To think rationally: logically, realistically & emotionally. ((Difficulty level 5: As much as we all believe we are rational, we are actually irrational beings influenced by social norms, indoctrinated by the media, ideologies and habits, this is a skill worth developing.)
Dreams of perfection. Lofty, grand plans that are possibly unrealistic. (Difficulty level 6: When surrounded by negativity it is even more vital to still aim for the ideal as a goal, even if it can’t be reached, it inspires motivation for better. If you can’t dream of a better world, you won’t be able to make it a reality. As any endevours to achieve what seems impossible will far outweigh aiming for what is easily attainable. It helps you raise your standards by keeping promises to yourself. Which is ultimately, the best gift you can give to you. When our thoughts don’t align to our actions, we end up in an uncomfortable state of cognitive dissonance).
Output : Behaviours
Output processes are responsible for preparing an appropriate response to a stimulus.
Does the way we think determine how we solve problems?
Most definitely. How we view a problem, what we see and what we don’t see will determine whether we’re solving the problem. In fact, whether we’re even solving the right problem. Various modes of thinking can be simplified down to the they way we’re organising information. Whether we’re looking for similarities vs differences. Whether we’re aware vs oblivious vs whether we’ve broken through our own biases. Whether we’re inhibited by our imposter syndrome and slowing our progress by being too judgemental of ourselves and those around us. All these factors influence the type of questions we ask about the problem, the world around us and about ourselves. Our perspective of how immense and beautiful the world can be vs how small. Half full vs empty.
You can either view the world as if everything is a miracle or nothing at all.
Be aware that indifference is just as poisonous as negative thinking. So many facets…it’s so amazing.
Can we change or enhance our thinking?
Thinking is so fascinating, before I used to relate life to experiences. That we are the sum of our experiences. Hence I always felt I wasn’t fully living, as I hadn’t experienced life to it’s fullest, by missing out on travelling the world. I may have not been able to immerse myself in new cultures and countries, and expand my knowledge in this way. However, I have found that my past experiences are not what has made me who I am today.
Rather, my outlook on those experiences are what has made the difference in helping me move forward in a better instead of a bitter way. Realising the warning signs of generalisation or “shoulds” and “have to”…categorising and viewing my thoughts. Being aware of what I’m thinking and assessing if these thoughts help build me up or destroy me. Whether they’re realistic and if too unrealistic how can I break it down into a more practical way. Understanding that none of my thoughts are facts has been the most liberating. And instead choosing the logical counter arguments over the critical parent and the child in me. Now I view the quality of my life, by the quality of my thinking.
In anything you do, it makes sense to stretch your muscles. To use various modes of thinking to complete various tasks. There are so many methods available to adapt or to assist in reframing thoughts.
Our emotional responses ultimately flow out of our assessments (schemas) of the world (how we’ve perceived and interpreted). If we can shift those perceptions we shift our emotional responses. The inverse is true as well.
Ultimately, thinking and doing go hand in hand. Likewise choosing what to think and do are of even greater importance.
What can you do today to think differently?
I’ve listed all the different categories of thinking I could find. If I search anymore, this post will end up being a book. We can’t change the way we think unless we can understand how we currently think. If you can see it, you can change it. If we generally are comfortable with one method of thinking, and resort to autopilot in this mode, then we’re merely limiting ourselves. Any skill is merely practiced in order to be mastered. Therefore, we can adjust our thinking patterns by the questions we ask ourselves. By practicing various methods of problem solving.
The more we practice, the more new thinking and habits, skills are instilled. It all starts with making the unknown, known. Being conscious. Once we are aware, then everything boils down to choice. The conclusions we make from our thoughts, affect choices, which determine actions. Actions/practice becomes routine, which affects future thoughts & choices, actions and changes results, ultimately changes behaviour. Cause and effect. The inverse is true as well. Eliminate a behaviour and substitute with a new one. Change the behaviour and the thinking changes. Change the thinking and the choices, actions and behaviours follow suit.
Ultimately, we change as people.
← P R E V I O U S Computer vs brain analogy