In the first three articles in the Misconnection series, we explored misconnections that are created because of the illusion of a connection, because our survival instincts kick in, and because information is judged by our unique perspective. In this final installment of Misconnection, we discuss retraining the brain to make more accurate connections.
The first step in retraining the brain to eliminate misconnections is to recognize that misconnections occur. For some people, realizing that their assumptions (i.e. connections) they have made about other people, situations, and events might not be accurate is a shock. These people trust the assumptions that their mind makes without giving them a second thought. Often, they don’t even consider that their mind has made a judgment.
Yet, everyone – even those who are conscious of misconnections – makes misconnections.
It has been suggested by some that the solution to part of the issue is to simply stop making these connections. Those people believe that survival instincts, in particular, are out dated and no longer needed. However, this is not accurate.
Today, people need survival instincts as much as they ever did. It is just that what constitutes danger is always changing. In what would become the United States, people had to be highly aware of wild animals and unknown individuals. Encounters with either could be deadly.
Although dangers associated with animals and other human beings still exist, the dangers have transformed. Similarly, new dangers have been created, such as, dangers to our livelihood and identity, which didn’t exist 400 years ago.
Often our instincts and other factors that influence connections don’t adapt fast enough to the ever-changing dangers. Thus, it is important for people to analyze the connections they make for accuracy. This applies to things identified as safe, as well as those identified as dangerous.
For each connection analyzed, the person should note the accuracy. When encountering something they deemed dangerous that was actually safe, the person should consider what made them believe the person or situation presented danger.
Likewise, when encountering someone that they felt was safe only to find out that they were not, the person should consider what made them feel the person was safe. Then, they should consider if there were flags that they missed.
This analysis should include independent research about the person or situation. The more knowledgeable a person becomes about a topic; the more likely they are to understand if they have made a good connection in their judgment of that person or situation.
However, it is critical to check the information for accuracy and bias. Reading biased information just leads to more bias. Thus, it is critical to utilize different sources with different points of view. If a person simply finds a point of view that supports their original perspective, they will not accurately analyze the person or situation. Instead, they will use the point of view to reinforce their original perspectives.
A simple example is a person applies for a job. They have an immediate negative reaction to interviewer. They just didn’t like her for some reason. And, they apply that negative reaction to the job itself. Now, if they leave and go talk to a friend who supports their opinion without any knowledge or they talk to someone who was fired from that business, they are only gaining support for their opinion.
If, however, they ask themselves why they had a negative reaction to the job and they are honest with themselves, they may realize that it was the interviewer. Then they can consider why they reacted to the interviewer. They can also seek a balanced set of input from people who have worked there to make a better assessment of the job.
It would be awful to turn down a job if the source of the issue was that the interviewer looked similar to the girl that stole your boyfriend in high school. That is exactly what can happen with misconnections.
Retraining The Brain
The first two steps in retraining the brain are to recognize the misconnection and to analyze it. Once that is complete, the next step in retraining the brain to make better connections is to have a keen awareness to when similar judgments are being made. The next step is for the person to take to retrain the brain is to immediately stop and ask, “Why do I feel this way?” They can follow that question with “Is my assessment really true?” An honest assessment of these questions is a move toward changing the judgments themselves.
Once a person does this for several things, they will find that questioning becomes habit. Thus, they will pay attention to the automatic connection, but they will also automatically assess if that connection is accurate. This will lead to a better judgment of that situation and will help retrain the brain for future situations.