Monday, January 12, 2009

You Can't Always Trust Your Brain...

I am sure you have seen figures like the one below and gotten stuck...really stuck that you think the problem is impossible to solve. That there is no answer...but there is!

The Nine Dot Puzzle

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Start from any point and draw four continuous lines (without lifting the pen) so that each of the nine dots has at least one line running through it. You must think "outside of the box" to solve this.

Or how about this one: If a bat and a ball together cost $1.10 and the bat costs a dollar more than the ball how much does the ball cost?

Psychology tells us that our minds have two systems for solving problems and making decisions. One is the intuitive mind and the other is the reasoning mind. The intuitive mind acts 'with out thinking' just 'knows' but does not always know 'how it knows.' The intuitive mind is like having a blazing fast processor but it is does not 'learn new stuff' very well. On the other hand, the reasoning system uses careful calculations that is not influenced by emotions and is slower in the processing speed than the intuitive mind. Both systems have their place but both systems have their limitations. It is critical to determine  which decisions should be made by intuition and those that require careful calculations.

Starry Starry Night Most couples I see in the therapy are emotionally stuck precisely because they can not see any answer to their situation. They tell me, "I have done all I can do" and "I have changed all I can change" and "He just won't communicate and I have tried all the tricks!" You can hear the frustration in their voice and see the turmoil on their face and feel the exasperation of their state of affairs.

Correct thinking is the beginning of solving our problems. However we almost never approach a problem systematically and exhaustively unless we have been specifically educated to do so (Miller G.A., Gallanter E. and Pibram K.H., 1960). This is especially true in navigating and negotiating our emotionally committed relationships (lovers, husband/wife, parent/child). Listen to the wife who told me last week, 'I just feel awful' and throughout the first 40 minutes of our session I counted about 37 'I feel awful's' and believe me, I was not feeling all that good by then myself. What is the answer? THINKING and thinking clearly and correctly.

Your first answer may be incorrect. The second answer may not be correct either...but that does not mean there is no answer. Think and then think about your thinking. This will slow your reaction down and keep you from doing something really dumb and may even give you a better chance of strengthening your close relationships.

Back to our problem solving brain: if you said the bat cost $1.00 that would make the ball cost 10 cents and the bat would only cost .90 more...therefore your first answer (intuitive brain system) was wrong!! But there is a correct answer. Also, try to solve the NINE DOT PUZZLE with out using GOOGLE!

Use the rush of emotion to trigger your brain to signal to your heart....slow down and THINK.

Why your brain can't always make good decisions -

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