Monday, May 17, 2010

Reducing Our Problems through Insightful Decision-Making

We’ve all wondered why we make certain decisions that lead to dreadful mistakes, although some are unforeseen. We may even ponder the rationale that went into it, and think, “How could I have done that?” Even the most intelligent people become victims of often hasty, poorly thought-out decisions affecting our families and careers.

Each of us sees a situation differently with a unique slant, and we respond according to our learned experiences and what we have learned to believe as true.

To further complicate the rational process, our temperaments, feelings, and cultural backgrounds come into play. Emotional reactions, false hopes, and aspirations become blinders. We do not think clearly as to what the possible outcomes might be.

Although we all make mistakes, some of us will make continual blunders that are hard to rationalize. Somehow some of the working elements become eschew with sudden break-downs in our logic system.

This article is not intended to solve your problems, but to give you insight into your thought processes, and help you cope.  It will encourage you to consider your decisions so you can avoid problems before they appear in the first place. Many psychologists and experts in the field have written about critical thinking, and this blog is simply to review my practical observations so you begin considering alternate possibilities and become more methodical, avoiding hasty, reactive impulses.

My expertise is with creative cognitive skills training applications that were found to work. There are clearly defined, textbook, mental building-blocks that form deductive/inductive reasoning. Right- and left-brain domains enter into the picture. We use our right-brain in detecting patterns like people faces and what they are wearing.  Our left-brain is the analytical, sequencing side.

It is important that we immediately spot patterns, and use intuition to interpret them correctly.  Then rapid sequencing must ensue. We tap into what we already know. Yet, the patterns and sequences rapidly evolve, and we must react instantly, as to avoid an impending auto accident.

Every move we make is reactive in some way to our experiences and how well we spot the patterns and turn them into sequences. The apparent sequences must be rapid, like words on a page link into meaning. If we miss the sequencing and pattern detection aspects, we become “clueless.”

Every twist and turn we make during the day requires a decision of some sort. Whether it is driving the car, performing a task at work, or simply preparing a meal, it is a myriad of sequences laced with potential decisions that could turn into minute problems or large issues. Or, evolve into nothing at all, and remain routine.

Key here is the concept of “situational awareness” like is taught in the military. Being overly aware of your environment with the people, moods, circumstances, timing factors, is a good beginning. Then add your ability to recognize intuitive patterns and sequence them into a logical answer. Think about how you sequence information; do you read rapidly and understand the material? Are you adept at organizing your daily work assignments?

Ask yourself: Is something amiss with a pattern? i.e. a person’s mood, body language, voice, or a situational event. Being able to spot “split patterns” is a good beginning in recognizing and avoiding problematical situations. A “split pattern” is something askew within any typical design, whether it be a facial expression, body language, a conversation, a story line, an art piece, traffic patterns, sports plays, attitudes, meetings, or a work assignment.

Stop and consider the level of your visual and listening (auditory) processing capabilities. My work combines how to interpret patterns and then sequence visual and listening information rapidly.

Much has been written on the topic of pattern-detection and intuition including my writings and insights. Encoding means “getting into information” for better understanding.  The first step is encoding or interpreting patterns for better reasoning capability.  For example, is poor visual pattern processing sabotaging your reading speed and written communication?

Six people can observe an object and see six different things. Do you focus on less important details? Are you missing the point?

Decoding is “pulling information out” of code format. Are poor listening skills interfering with your work performance and with your personal relationships? Do you tune out?

Some examples of poor critical thinking:

Drivers texting in traffic, when they know this causes accidents with sudden death or can leave you seriously injured, in rehab for months, and with expensive car repair or replacement.

Not following your children’s schooling. You will wind up supporting them and living with you at home.

Not taking care of your health, eating right, avoiding harmful habits, exercising, maintaining a spiritual balance.  You “age before your time,” deteriorate much faster, while having to endure serious health problems.

Not considering the corporate culture with a new job position.  You will work with a group of people on a different wave length, work style, and objectives.

Being involved with dangerous, manipulative personal relationships. The tabloids are full of examples showing this type of poor irrational thinking.

Poor real estate purchasing decisions. Not taking into consideration your health, financial, age, and current national economic circumstances. Living beyond your means.

Consider implications and consequences of any action you are taking, whether large or small. Adding insight to your problem-solving will smooth out bothersome rough edges in your life.