Although I can learn some things fast, I’ve often felt frustrated that I can’t learn fundamental deeper things faster. I feel like there is some sort of shell around my brain preventing me from seeing and comprehending what I need to in order to make the desired change. It’s like I have some kind of anti-learning helmet on. So I’ve tried to get to the bottom of this. Is it only me? A psycho-quirk of mine? Or is everyone like this?
So I dug into neuroscience and learned that we are largely automated animals, almost entirely driven by our unconscious mind, which we have virtually no access to, and which dominates 95% of our brain function. Our conscious mind only accounts for a tiny fraction ( 1/1000) of our brain activity, and we even avoid using it because it is literally physically hard work, and to boot, it also doesn’t make us feel good. Not only that, we repeat 90% of our daily activity from one day to the next. I could go on citing our limitations and blind spots,..it’s both staggering, fascinating, and also comical.
Not only are we driven by our unconscious impulses, we even have a brain component called the “interpreter” which gives us the illusion that we are in charge and consciously making decisions. Most of the time we are not.
Daniel Kahneman has written an entire book; “Thinking: Fast and Slow,” that elaborates on all of the behaviors that result from having a very slow, limited conscious mind, in conjunction with a high-powered, very fast and dynamic unconscious mind. For instance, we will often procrastinate conscious work (which is hard) for virtually any unconscious impulse or distraction that makes us feel good.
In light of all this, It’s amazing that we have accomplished all that we have! (moon shots, science etc.) When people are persistent at doing hard conscious work, they can accomplish unbelievable things. But most of he time, it just ain’t happening.
In fact not surprisingly, even though we are less violent than previous civilizations, most of humanity is caught up in tribal wars over food, shelter and other resources. We have a lot of trouble learning to live together and doing what is necessary to maintain an inhabitable planet – not all that different than other animals
So on the one hand, we’re capable of sophisticated inventions, like space travel and automation,..while on the other, we seem to be dominated by our primitive instincts, incapable of necessary change and human transformation.
it’s an amazing and bizarre schism we humans have,.. with our tiny smart brain component built on top of our amygdala and other primitive parts, We’ve evolved further than our ancestor species in most respects – but not “that” far. It’s no wonder I often feel like an advanced rodent with a space helmet on.