Created May 19, 2023
Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.
To read Powerful Mind Pt. 10, click here.
How the Drive for Closure Interacts with Acceleritis
“Acceleritis” — the condition caused by having too many things to pay attention to all at the same time, and pretty much all the time — makes us impatient. When we do not fully understand something, the drive for closure becomes palpable within our minds. We may become frustrated and maybe even apoplectic, especially if additional variables continue to be introduced — a ringing telephone, someone comes in with a request or sends us a text or e-mail, etc. If we are living in a state of continual impatience, our minds will do anything to get to closure as quickly as possible. If we run our lives and our minds in the usual impatient way, we will lack insight into this process, and so we will be eager to grab our mind’s first offering of a way to closure.
We call this hasty closure because it is temporary closure, jumping to a conclusion in order to get past the dissonant situation and on to the next thing. It isn’t closure as a result of full understanding, which would be true closure. Why do I call it temporary closure? Because the same issue will keep coming up, unresolved, again and again, and we will hastily put it away by slapping a label on it or storing it in its usual pigeonhole. Such hasty closures are short-lived as the same unsolved problems will never go away for very long. They will come back and need to be put back in their box over and over again. A much better strategy is to make sure that you have closures that are fully thought out and therefore lasting. In the long run, this will actually save time because the challenging situation, whatever it is, will now have a real solution.
How Can You Identify Hasty Closure When It Happens?
Sometimes spontaneous decisionmaking is a great thing. So you have to separate out fast good decisionmaking, such as in Flow state, from jumping to shallow conclusions out of rushing and under-estimating the importance of the moment — hasty closure. If you feel as if you are in Flow, keep going. Otherwise, slow down and reconsider for as much time as you have. To help you distinguish which of these two states you are in at any given moment, here are some of the signs of hasty closure:
- Oversimplification. One of the most obvious effects of Acceleritis is the increased tendency to see things in black/white terms rather than in shades of gray. “She is always out to get me.” “That guy is never right.”
- Hearsay. Positions based on beliefs rather than on personal empirical experience. “A company should always be sharply focused on just one thing.” “Religion is just superstition.” “The White Race is supreme.” These beliefs likely came from other people who were influential in your life, including your parents.
- Negative Charge. The presence of negative emotion such as tension, fear, anger or irritation. These feelings are evidence that you are seeing a situation a certain way, and on top of that, you have subconsciously already decided on a strategy for dealing with it. With such a negative premise, this is not likely to work.
Often these closures will trace back to experiences you had many years ago that you interpreted in a way that locks you into a certain inflexibility, and which trick you into believing you have learned something empirically from your own personal bad experience. But you’ve been fooled by the takeaway you received from that experience; the real lesson is somewhat subtler than the lesson you articulated to yourself long ago.
Typically you may have overcompensation bias. You were too open, you thought you learned a big lesson, but now you are too guarded — “falling off the opposite side of the log”. You may have been too generous and now you’re too stingy, too severe and now too gentle, too trusting and now not trusting anything or anyone. And so on. You learned the wrong lesson – it wasn’t black and white, it was finding the right spot between them for each situation.
Strategies which Work to Outsmart Hasty Closure
Re-Setting the Mind
The mind moves very quickly to achieve hasty closure. In fact, in all things the mind moves very quickly. What I mean by this is that your mind moves by itself, it doesn’t wait for you to tell it what to do. In effect, it tells you, you don’t tell it.
Your “preconscious” mind prepares a thought and/or a feeling and serves it up to you, like a server downloading a page to a client computer. It does this without you asking for that page.
However, until we are aware of that process on a deep sustained basis, each of us takes that automated thought or feeling as our own, as coming from ourself. We take ownership of that thought/feeling as if it were our own. In reality, these unbidden thoughts/feelings are very much like the things our computer does for us automatically, like filling in the end of an email address, or changing our spelling. The brain is saying “this is the kind of thing I would say under these circumstances”. In other words, it is predicting you, based on what you have done in the past. You are imitating yourself if you go with these “kneejerk habit tapes”. Every moment is worthy of re-examination creatively — it is the “new now”. We keep ourselves and life new by respecting the new moment enough to not simply imitate ourselves, but to engage with it fully: take the time you have to go deeper and be spontaneously creative rather than being merely spontaneously reactive in a repetitive, mechanical, predictable way.
The mechanistic, robotical part of the mind is not our whole true self, it is just a part of us. Yet in the world dominated by Acceleritis we “don’t have time” to notice that, so we just accept these served “pages” with no hesitation and act on them.
A powerful and little-known strategy is to doubt your own last thought/feeling. Before going off half-cocked, look back at what you just thought or felt, and demand proof before you choose what action to take. This ensures that all of you, your whole self, is in charge, not taken over by a part of you.
Details to follow in the subsequent posts.
Love to all,