The lamprey of the mind infects us through specific points of vulnerability. We have four main places where negativity can invade:
1. The brain. We have a brain that evolved to pay special attention to potential danger.
2. Communication. We have a strong, biologically-driven urge to be accepted by others.
3. Reality. The lamprey can invade us through the inevitably misleading experiences we get under certain conditions.
4. Television. Perhaps most powerfully, we can be infected through a mutation called television. TV functions like the Erie canal, opening us to unprecedented numbers of lampreys we have developed no natural defense against.
Click on any of those if you would like to know the full details. It is important and worth the study. Below is a summary.
the nature of the enemy: summary
Pessimism, cynicism, and defeatism function like a kind of lamprey of the mind, draining you of life — sapping your strength and determination, impairing your health, weakening your ability.
Lampreys can invade your mind, and you have specific places you are vulnerable to invasion — the four negative biases.
1.The brain. The brain reacts more strongly to negative information than to positive information. Threatening images capture your attention more compellingly than pleasant images. When your mind isn't otherwise engaged, it drifts randomly until an upsetting thought occurs. At that point, you stop drifting and think about it.
The human brain is prone to making certain kinds of mistakes: overgeneralizing, seeing patterns in random events and happenstance, seeing things in an all-or-nothing sort of way, coming to conclusions too quickly, having a feeling of confidence that isn't justified by the facts, having a tendency to look for confirming evidence of already-existing conclusions, and so on.
Because of the brain's stronger reaction to (and greater fixation on) negative images and thoughts, those naturally-occurring mistakes (listed in the last paragraph) end up producing a high level of pessimism, cynicism, and defeatism.
2.Communication. Because of the media and the pressures of social interaction, negativity has become chic. For social reasons, people will often withhold good news and share bad news. And a prominent topic of everyday conversations has a negative tone: talking about grievances. You and everyone else on this planet are compelled by your own biology to gossip — to share your complaints about other people, to listen to complaints about other people, and to sympathize with the complainer.
For many reasons, your most significant goals are likely to be stomped on my well-meaning friends and family.
This all adds up to one result: Conversations are an opportunity for lampreys to invade your mind.
3.Reality. It is usually easier to notice and easier to remember when something goes wrong than when something goes right. This leads to pessimistic (and false) conclusions like, "My boss is always on my back," or "My wife never wants to do what I want to do."
Sometimes no matter what decision you make, things will turn out badly. Under certain circumstances, the cut-throat behavior of others encourages nice people to be more cut-throat just because of the nature of reality.
To make all this even worse, once reality shows its negative bias, it is natural to form conclusions that then function like self-fulfilling prophesies as your mind automatically seeks evidence to confirm your conclusions. Result: A tendency to become more pessimistic, cynical, and defeatist as you get more experience dealing with reality's negative bias.
4.Television. Because of the brain's negative bias — combined with the intense competition between stations — producers and advertisers constantly exploit your natural reaction to threats of danger. The unfortunate side-effect is the airwaves are filled with hours upon hours of pessimism-producing programs and ads.
And they use all the know-how at their disposal to keep you glued to the set longer than you want to be, absorbing a distorted view of the world as a far more dangerous and depressing place than it really is.
Okay, enough bad news! Now let's get to the heart of the matter. What can we do to defend ourselves and our loved ones and the world at large from this overwhelming, engulfing, fear-inspiring lamprey invasion? Read on…(coming soon: how to protect yourself from being infected with pessimism against your will).
Protect yourself from the influence of these negative biases: The Three Ways To Protect Yourself Against the Negative Biases.