(Mannn I wish I had a better title for this. The point of it, though, is that I’m trying to define an internal concept, so I guess of course naming is hard.)
There are a lot of voices in anyone’s head. (talking non-schizophrenic, not-actual-voices “voices” here.) This is obvious when you do something as simple as decide whether to eat a cake: “I want to eat it, but I also don’t want to feel too full later or gain weight.” There’s a real powerful voice that gets a lot of airtime in my head. Let’s call it “logical mind” for now (though I might actually just mean “ego” or Kahneman’s “System 2”, not sure).
Here are some characteristics of Logical Mind:
- it’s always looking for problems to solve, and solving them.
- it loves quick answers; it’s not patient.
- it really dislikes things it can’t solve.
- it loves saying no and reducing things to a size it can think about
- it loves not having to think about things.
- it’s defensive, and hates possibly being wrong.
- it’s judgmental and snobby.
(These might not be totally independent vectors. Probably if you dimensionality-reduced it, you’d end up with 3 main dimensions: 1. knowing what you can do with computers, but 2. not having much RAM or processing power; 3. hating being wrong.)
Logical Mind seems like a fine tool to have, a fine voice. But it’s troublesome when it runs the whole show all the time. Here are some times it is troublesome:
1. when I don’t have anything to do on a weekend, so I just clean stuff up for a while, and then invent more problems to “solve”, and then end up mad that I wasted a whole day doing nothing
2. when I have a big mood, but I can’t figure it out, so I just distract myself for a while; meanwhile the emotion sits there unprocessed and still messing with me
3. when I notice someone’s (perhaps my own!) complex emotional issue, and decide “I know the answer, it’s simple, so I should not bother being compassionate with them.”
4. when I don’t have a super well-formed opinion on something, so I default to “it’s bad” to protect myself from being wrong.
5. when I start trying to learn something, find it difficult, and then quit, because in theory it should be way easier.
6. when I think about doing a potentially-fun thing that requires some work to do, and I decide, well… fun thing requires maybe -10 amount of work, and somewhere between I dunno +0 and +30 amount of fun, that’s too hard to evaluate, I will not do it.
7. when I’m on vacation or something and I can’t just sit still and stop trying to find or solve problems.
8. when I’ve got some mild discomfort, but I have to fix it, I can’t just let it be.
9. when I am debating something that I’ve already figured out, and I can’t tolerate the complexity of the debate because I am Right, dammit
10. when someone does something wrong, and I think “this absolute horrible human, how could they possibly have gotten it wrong, it is so obvious and unquestionable that I am right here.”
It is hard to listen to Logical Mind all the time, mostly because it continually points out what is wrong, and therefore focuses you on it. When Logical Mind is in charge, there isn’t even a concept of “enjoyment” or “meaning” or “wonder” or “joy”, there’s just “things are broken and I feel bad” or “nothing seems to be broken right now so I don’t feel so bad.” It would be nice, I think, if Logical Mind were a bit player I could pull out when I wanted, instead of the captain who’s usually steering the ship. So, that is a thing I’m trying to work on.
edit: this very appropriate comic just happened to come up today
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