Human Thinking Process
Human thinking process has been one of the most attractive mechanisms for psychologists to study. Although each approach in psychology has its own ideas about how thought functions, there is no consensus about the exact mechanism and its reasons. Yet, most researchers will agree that human thought and perceptions are dual, which means that they do not only reflect the objective reality but also the personality who is a medium for these processes. In the current paper, I consider my personal aspects of thought, perception and perceptual blocks that distort the original ideas.
First of all, it is important to differentiate between different mechanisms that human functioning is based on. Sensing is one of such mechanisms, which is objective, and is also true for animals who have no type of human consciousness. Thus, sensing is a purely bodily reaction, like seeing of hearing, which is not yet analyzed by the mind and is not influenced by previous experiences. Whenever sensations are classified according to a kind of inbuilt “catalogue” of senses that people have due to previous experiences, one can speak about perception in this case. Finally, when a certain conclusion is made by human mind based on the sensed and perceived information, this is clearly a thinking process.
Memory is a mechanism of the brain that helps collect and store information about the past external events and bodily reactions, to which these events are related to. So, because memory does not fixate pure objective facts only, it is closely linked to the process of perception. In other words, human mind does not only remember the actual happening in the external world but runs information through certain filters. At the same time, current memories can work as filters for the next ones, as they help perceive and classify data according to certain clichés. Because of clichéd thinking human brain can focus on some facts and exaggerate them while completely ignoring the others. Thus, the picture of reality becomes subjective and distorted by perceptual blocks and barriers.
I had an instance in my life which illustrated this gap between the actual reality and its perception. Several years ago I decided to take part in a self-development training, which took the form of mountain hiking camp and included special task. The event was a challenge, which I thought of posing to myself because I realized I needed some change in my life. This was the first time in my life when I had to endure strong physical and mental efforts because I had always thought of myself as a fragile person. Living in the wilderness of nature for two weeks, climbing and wearing a heavy backpack for hours was stressful for me. Yet, even a strong impression was made on me by a special task that each participant had for individual work: to find a place in the forest several hundred meters away from the camp and spend a day and a night there, and return back in the morning. I was terrified from the very beginning by two thoughts: the first one of spending a night all alone in the forest, and the second one, which was more frightful, was a fear of getting lost and not be able to find the way back to the camp. Thus, I tried not to walk a long way from the camp but this did not help me remember the way. My memory mechanisms were blocked by the fear of getting lost, which apparently was one of the main barriers to success.
I spent the night in an interesting way, which is worth telling a separate story, but the most curious way was the process of getting back. It began raining early in the morning, so I woke up and started my way to the camp. In several minutes I realized that I don’t know where to go and I started panicking. I bumped into pathways several times but I did not find them helpful, so I walked around the forest terrified and lost. When I was finally desperate, I sat down on the ground, as I was tired of my own panic. Accidentally, I raised my eyes and saw the tables with arrows indicating the way to the camp. At this point I recollected that our leaders discussed them before but my memory failed me. Thus, I walked up following the arrows and got to the camp in five minutes.
Thus, this situation that occurred to me is an example of the way perceptual block works. In this case, fear was the greatest mechanism that triggered the distortion of reality. Because I was frightened, I did not notice any visible signs that the environment had for finding my way. Besides, it was interesting that I did not remember the initial instruction of the leaders about the indicators on the trees. I believe that because my mind was fixated on getting lost from the very beginning, it created the reality around me that confirmed my own perception. This was not my only lesson from the journey as it helped me to discover several blocks and barriers that I had. For example, the ideas of myself as physically weak and poor-spirited person did not prove to be true, and I realized how it determined my actions and decisions in real life. The roots of perceptual blocks usually rest in the past experiences. So, a certain event takes place and conclusion is drawn by a human mind based on the patterns that a person has formulated. They might be influenced by a family, by the opinion of some meaningful people in childhood, or by some other values and ideas. Anyway, any experience, including negative ones, is always stored in a human body as certain perceptions. Whenever a similar situation occurs, these physical perceptions return and trigger other mechanisms of emotions and thinking. However, when a person has a chance to experience his or her barriers consciously, this is an opportunity for reconsidering the negatives clichés. Thus, after the described training, I started thinking about myself in a new way. I realized that in fact I was both mentally and physically strong and that all my obstacles lied in my own head. Personal barriers narrow down a number of choices that people have, although they might not notice the fact. For instance, a person’s dislike for a certain activity can be based on the barriers but he or she might think that the choice is conscious. As a result, certain stressful activities are ousted to make the person stick to his or her comfort zone. The more significant are the barriers, the smaller is this comfort zone and the narrower is a variety of activities that he or she enjoys.
To conclude, it is worth saying that perceptual blocks and barriers are mechanisms that human mind creates to protect people from would-be danger. However, this estimation of a certain situation as dangerous is distorted just because of the above mentioned blocks and barriers. There is always an opportunity to reconsider the negative clichés of thinking and perception but this takes being consciously exposed to what minds takes as danger. When a person faces the truth, there is a chance to explore and reconsider the ideas and behavior.