Framework collapses. An unbalanced self-esteem‘s worst nightmare. We can call accept that learning from your mistakes is the best way to grow.
We receive so much stimulus from our environments. There is no way we can process it all in real-time. So our brains take shortcuts, genius shortcuts, but shortcuts nonetheless.
We live in a hologram projected by our brains of what they expect to see.
This begins as our brain transitions into adulthood, the child-like wonder and curiosity drop away, we have seen enough patterns of reality to predict the chain of events to a ‘good enough’ state of accuracy.
We make course-corrections as our brain missteps, but how many times have you been so focused on something that you completely miss something you’re looking right at? This is called the Selective Attention Phenomenon and we’ve all lived it.
Living in the matrix
This is how magic tricks can exist, sleight of hand and optical illusion take advantage of this shortcutting by the brain. Operating in the shadows of our sensory filtering.
How do we generate these predictions of what to expect so that our brain can generate this hologram of assumptions? We have mental models.
Built up and iterated over as we’ve grown up.
These models are machines, you put in the initial stimulus and it begins cranking. Outputting your conclusions for you. These ideas bubbling up and being retrospectively rationalised. We observe so much, but see so little.
You have collected premises you hold deeply to be true. A premise is a concept that acts as a pillar to an argument. The lowest-level, indivisible unit of an idea. We have drives that we have internalised from society and our parents.
Freud called this the Superego. What we know to be righteous and proper in society, the way things ‘should be’. This often resists our deeper urges, Freud referred to these urges as the Id.
The self is in the ego and we respond to input from both of these players. The angel and the devil on the shoulders.
They are both powerful. The angel figure protects you. The ‘devil’ figure causes mistakes to be made, and as we established: Learning from your mistakes is a powerful growth strategy.
Walking the razor’s edge
From these premises we build frameworks, underpinned by the validity of the premise. If the premise is invalidated, the framework comes crashing down. Freud posited that if you undergo a framework collapse you will lean into a regression of your ego.
This disfunction will be based on what phase of development you were in when you underwent the collapse, that framework falling back to the state it was in at a point of innocent infantilism.
Think back to a time where something you held deeply to be true was proven to be false. Perhaps it was when you realised your parents were not infallible, but just mere mortals like the rest of us.
Perhaps it was when you realised that as a childhood high achiever you were not guaranteed continued success and every day you drifted more towards mediocrity.
It is when we are naive that we can have the space to make these mistakes. Messing up often and early is a great strategy to become stronger as you learn from your mistakes.
These are really difficult times. Having a pillar of your identity, the sum of your frameworks (which dictate how you respond to stimuli) brought into question is really toxic to your immediate wellbeing.
While this theory is widely disputed and by some not seen to hold merit, our interest is more in the extension created by Carl Jung. A follower of Freud’s work.
He argued that ‘the patient’s regressive tendency…is not just a relapse into infantilism, but an attempt to get at something necessary…the universal feeling of childhood innocence, the sense of security, of protection, of reciprocated love, of trust’.
A warm embrace
It’s a time of your life where you likely felt truly safe and loved, assuming you had a secure and healthy upbringing to some degree. Your ego goes back there when it senses itself to be in danger. Life shattering realisations are fought hard by your ego. Which is just trying to maintain the status quo. To ensure that you are strong enough to face the challenges in your way.
When you regress you become vulnerable like a child.
Running the gauntlet
This is a necessary step in the spiral staircase of development. You may sustain a jarring wound, that takes time to heal, so that you can walk out the other side of the forest a more resilient warrior.
The problem Jung put forward is that some people elect to stay in the forest. Lose themselves in the dark. Blame the forest for their wounds and decide to leave them open to avoid coming to terms with the causes.
This is what creates ‘adult infants’. Adults who cannot be faced with change or be asked to grow. They elect to stay in the regressive confines of their old identity. When they are faced by these challenges to their fundamental premises they run.
It is those that choose to march forward, stoically exploring the new concepts that will take the shattered pieces of their ego and rebuild.
This time taller and stronger than before. You have a new piece to the puzzle of who you are from your exploration. Those that never go through these stages are missing these pieces. So you cannot reasonably expect them to the see the whole jigsaw.
So that is why given the same information, two people will likely come to different conclusions. They had different challenges to their mental models in their life.
So the hologram their mind concocts to process this complex analysis in front of them is different.
Each of them is the culmination of different mistakes and opportunities to grow. Who knows if they have taken these opportunities and learned from their mistakes or continued to repeat them.
They are two different machines.
It’s not the sum of our experiences that defines us, but our willingness to integrate new realities and release archaic falsehoods, no matter how uncomfortable it is.