This post was originally published on October 4, 2018.
At liftoff, a space shuttle expends the most fuel and power to break through the earth’s gravitational pull. The amount of speed generated to do this is called the “escape velocity.” The space shuttle must reach a speed of around 25,000 mph to break through into the next dimension where exploration of a bigger frontier can be experienced. Just as powerful as the earth’s gravitational pull is, there are four mental gravitational pulls that can ground our thinking. They are blockers to creating better patterns of thoughts and applying our uniqueness, creativity, and passion. They are subtle and easy to fall into. Resisting them will take a concentration of mental energy but will be worth your while.
1. Past Experiences
We all carry “mental residue” from past experiences whether positive or negative. It is a hurdle that is difficult to overcome without proper interpretation of what we have been through. Experiences act like lenses through which our perspective is created. It’s easy for experiences to distort our view of current realities. Use the questions below as a guide to check your system of interpretation:
a. How are you interpreting your present predicament in light of your past experiences?
b. Has your past created a faulty filter for processing what is happening to you now?
c. Are you inhibited by your past from living your best life now?
d. Are you willing to detach from a past experience in order to live a different outcome?
Remember, what is important, will always be ahead, not behind.
2. Majority Mentality
Acceptance or belonging to a team, tribe, or community is built into each one of us. It is one of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. But there can be a subtle cost paid to be accepted. This price is group think. It is the need to “keep the peace” in the group by thinking like everyone at the expense of being creative and thinking outside the box created by the group. We choose sameness over originality to maintain our position. Unfortunately, this leads to straight jacket thinking. Herd mentality is a gravitational pull that eventually chokes and suffocates; it kills creativity and diversity.
The damage attached to group think is high. Stagnation and fear fill the air as everyone is more interested in preservation than progress. The unique attributes of the individual are stifled by the collective thinking of the group. Unity should never demand uniformity. Consider the diversity of the human body yet functioning in harmony to fulfill a purpose. A question is posed in the Bible in relation to unity and diversity, “If the whole body were the eye, where would the hearing be?” The best thing you can do in the family, team, or community you are in is to be yourself and bring your unique pattern of thought to enhance diversity while still maintaining unity. An environment where the uniqueness of thought is appreciated fosters greater collaboration.
3. False Assumptions
“But I wore the juice.” This was what Mr. Mcarthur Wheeler told police when they arrested him in 1995 for robbing two banks in broad daylight. He covered his face with lemon juice assuming that he would be invisible to the security cameras in the banks! Why lemon juice? His dangerous assumption was based on the knowledge that the chemical properties of lemon juice were used as invisible ink.
This assumption, also called cognitive bias made Mr. Wheeler confident but incompetent. He inaccurately applied what he knew.
False assumptions like termites eat away at the foundation of sound decision making. They have a negative effect on our lives because we choose to believe and act on incomplete information.
Actions, similar to the one taken by Wheeler, based on false assumptions keep us grounded in destructive thinking cycles. A simple way to avoid assumptions is to take a pause and reflect before you act by asking, “Am I acting based on assumption or truth?” Pausing to make this crucial inquiry will assist in sidestepping the mental eruptions that assumptions evoke in us. Kill false assumptions with the truth.
4. Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
Dr. Paul Brand, a top researcher on the subject of pain once said, “If I held in my hands the power to eliminate pain, I would not exercise it.” His conclusion came after understanding that the curse of leprosy was not dismemberment, but the paralysis of nerves. This condition makes lepers unaware of the pain of a burn or walking with an open wound. Eventually, the infection from the open wound causes damage to the bone. The result is the loss of the body part.
There are some events in life we wish we could go through without feeling the effect of it. But pain is a gift that reminds us we are alive and an indicator to take action before things get worse.
In trying to avoid the pain of reality, we adopt unhealthy ways to cope and numb ourselves. The desire for “numbing agents” eats away at our authenticity and level of engagement in relationships. Coping mechanisms become masks we hide behind to disguise our true feelings and need for help and healing.
According to behavioral research, coping mechanisms sap our attention, encroach on our time, and prevent us from living fully. Unhealthy coping habits include:
- Social media
- Watching tv
Avoid this gravitation to negative coping mechanisms by getting to the root of issues and taking positive steps to a solution. This comes by way of adapting (transformative thinking) instead of simply coping.
Challenge Corner: Which of the four gravitational pulls mentioned has a tendency to keep you grounded? How can you improve your mental strength to break through and reach the next level of thinking?
Keep on keeping on