Born helpless

Human beings are fragile creatures. We are born helpless and completely dependent upon our care-givers. Countless other animals can walk shortly after birth and in the scheme of things, become self-sufficient relatively quickly. Those types of animals are precocial, require little input behaviourally as they are hard wired from birth. Humans belong to the group of animals who are altricial, which means the young are born helpless, immobile and require nurturing for an extended period of time. This has a distinct cognitive pay off for humans . “The longer maturation rate allows us to develop much more complex thinking.” That gives us humans a distinct evolutionary advantage. It also means that human beings are capable of re-wiring themselves.

 

Wired up on the fly

There is no question that human beings dominate the earth. Human beings have impacted virtually everything on the planet and part of the reason for that is our ability to re-wire ourselves and to adapt. Whereas a significant number of animals come hard wired, human beings have to learn and model behaviour. Your intelligence was its most flexible when you were born. This is partly to do with our relatively large brain which is not fully developed at birth. A large brain makes for a large head.

 

Infinitely malleable and adaptable

Our brain is effectively a living computer with millions of neurons that if joined together would encircle the earth 4 and a half times. The ‘files’ in this computer are essentially blank at birth and we evolved to wire up on the fly. This makes us both infinitely malleable and adaptable. The main difference between a human and a computer (both are driven by software) is that If you were going to write a software program, you would have a defined outcome and a set of processes, that ensure that outcome.  Here’s the problem. A lot of your programming has been laid down in the moment, often in reaction to hurt. That reaction is what is writing the code. Furthermore, you brain is designed to protect you and to create short cuts for efficiency; one of the ways it does this is by creating mental models. So you brain deletes and generalises information by looking for patterns.

 

Error message

If your mind is your software, and your body is an instrument of that software with your experience writing the code, does that leaves you at the mercy of your experiences? When they are good experiences you will have good code. If you have bad experiences you have bad code..

Yes and no.  It is possible to take charge of the process by consciously re-wiring yourself and change the error message.

In a sense, the process of becoming who you are is defined by carving back the possibilities that were already present. You become who you are not because of what grows in your brain, but because of what is removed.

David Eagleman

How coherent are your beliefs?

Wiring up on the fly means you have a collection of beliefs and values that are not necessarily coherent or even belong together. To illustrate this point, pick any area of your life and examine your beliefs around it. Let’s take money. That’s a hot button topic and certainly one equated with success.  There are many beliefs around money, here are a few.

  • “Money is the root of all evil”. 
  • “My family has never been rich”.
  • “I’m not good with money”.
  • “Money doesn’t grow on trees”.
  • “I’d rather be happy than rich”.

I bet you hold several of them and don’t even notice the conflict with what you say you want around money until you take a look, which brings me to the next point. We don’t have beliefs so much as they “have us.

Conscious engineering and re-wiring yourself

What does that even mean? It means to pull yourself (that is your beliefs) apart and examine them one by one and only keep those beliefs that work for you. Your beliefs form part of the code that is running you and some of it is in desperate need of being over-written. Most of what you call reality is the reality you have created in your head and those mental models of your reality conflict much like different plugins conflict on a website.

It’s true because you think it is.

Beliefs become true because we think and act in accordance with them. The beliefs in your head are creating the reality you experience daily. To change your experience of life you must first alter your beliefs and your mental models. It’s a good thing human beings are malleable and you can re-shape yourself according to what you really want and what it takes is aligning yourself to a new set of beliefs. That process is the work of a lifetime.