The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

We don't need no Thought Control

Part of the narrative of my book Navigating The Ship of You explores the power of thought and the nature of how we personalise that power into what then becomes our thinking. In this extract I outline the role the RAS (Reticular Activating System) can play with our thought processes.

The RAS and our Thinking

It is important here now, to get a degree of “knowing” about an area of the brain called the Reticular Activating System or R.A.S as it is more simplistically known.

The RAS is situated at the base of the brain stem and is a highly complex and functional, though older, part of our brain. By older here I mean part of our “lizard” brain that was there back in the earlier stages of our development.
Amongst a considerable number of diverse neurological functions and roles relating in particular to our consciousness (our awakeness say), the RAS is described as being “the portal through which nearly all information enters the brain”. The RAS filters the incoming information and affects what we pay attention to and how aroused we are.

We can consciously direct its attention towards filtering out, and also to filtering in. Consequently we can filter for noticing similarity and, conversely, we can filter for noticing difference.
Now this is quite understandable in terms of information and data – yet what about our thinking, our thought processes, the content or product of our harnessing of the power of thought?
Can the RAS filter this as well?

Well the key is in the nature of how we might be intending to use the RAS. If we use it as a FILTER then the outcomes are more likely to be beneficial; if we use it as a CONTROLLER then we are more likely to run into difficulties.

The FILTER usage is crucial in helping life’s navigation skills in a number of ways. One is where we need to be oriented towards the Unknown, and noticing what is different and needs to be recorded. Another is to orient us away from noticing “sameness” when we are journeying into the “Known”. The consequence of the latter is to guide us away from ‘lazy’ navigating. This way we will spot the new thoughts rather than wholly relying on the stale thoughts.

The idea that the RAS can be directed to CONTROL our thinking is not beyond question – although we can and have all experienced the power of positive thinking from time to time.
Directing our perceptive filtering to ignore certain things and notice others is straightforward enough – so, as the song goes, when we accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and latch on to the affirmative -then we “Don’t mess with Mr In-Between!”.
It’s the panacea for all our ills, isn’t it?

“I want to be an optimist!” We hear the cry.
“How easy is it going to be?” We hear the rhetoric.

Well to the person who has no grounding in good life navigation, then the controlling argument mentioned above will sound attractive, very compelling, and will work for them for a while.
Yet nothing will have changed – particularly their attitudes and beliefs!
It would be like them holding a compass and pointing the needle towards the direction they want to go – rather than letting the compass tell them where true north is.
Or, as I have said to a number of people hell-bent on following their noses, it would be like trying to stop a car by grabbing the speedometer needle, turning it round to zero and THEN convincing your self, the “I” part of you,  that the car had stopped!

Delusional – certainly.
Perceptive blindness – definitely.

The Consequence

Of course we can arrange and filter our thinking, but it is only a temporary process.
It is a process we need to remember to do over and over again. Plus – at the end of the day – it is ONLY ever going to be dealing with, shuffling and re-arranging our thinking. And it’ll be stale thinking as well!

It is the classic domain of the “confidence player” in sport, for example. This is the person whose performance relies upon endless positive affirmation of ONLY what is good about what they are doing, or how they are performing.
They are constantly thinking and judging and thinking and judging – in the midst, all the while, of actually playing as well – or trying their ‘best’ to!
“Am I doing well? Am I doing well?
Well, if I think I am – then I am! But if I think I’m not then I’m not.”

“What do you think?” He’ll ask.
“Well, you need to stop thinking for a start,” I’ll reply.

The Paradox

Do you want to know the sure fire way to becoming a Positive Thinker?
You need to harness the power of thought and gain an Understanding of the power of thought from the ground up. This lays a firm foundation.
Here’s the thing about becoming a Positive Thinker, however.

The solution is a paradox.

The solution will happen when you notice the difference having first laid a firm foundation. And the difference you’ll notice is that there is no positive or negative any more – just our thinking!
There’ll be nothing to accentuate, or eliminate, or latch onto.
It’ll just be the way we are.
And then we’ll know the answer to the question,

“What’s it like to be?”

For when we realise our thoughts are uniquely ours AND that we’re the ones doing the thinking, only then can we really start to get out of our own way.

Then we can start to properly navigate our own ship.