221. Critical Thinking: How The Stories You Tell Yourself Determine Your Perspective

Redirect: Changing The Stories We Live By by Timothy D. WilsonPublished in 2013 by Penguin Books, Timothy Wilson‘s book Redirect: Changing The Stories We Live By offers practical advice on being happier and more successful, from parenting to PTSD to teen pregnancies to drug and alcohol abuse and more…

Chpt 1: PTSD

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is “a mental disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to a traumatic event, such as sexual assault, warfare, traffic collisions, or other threats on a person’s life.”

One mainstream way of treating PTSD is though Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD), which involves three to four guided sessions where victims of tramautic events can ‘air their feelings’ and discuss their thoughts and feelings in great detail rather than keep them ‘bottled up inside.’ Keeping those feelings bottled up is understood to lead to PTSD.

Another, less used and less ‘evident’ method  is the expressive writing process, which involves letting a few weeks of the human’s natural healing process take place after the traumatic experience has happened, and if the person is still tramautized, have them maintain a simple journal – over four consecutive days – where the person can explore their deepest thoughts and feelings in context to the rest of the person’s life.

While CISD might seem a logical and effective methodology from the limbic system’s perspective, after-the-fact studies prove that not only does the CISD method fail to accomplish its objective of curing PTSD, in many cases it acts to effectively ‘freeze’ those traumatic experiences in the victim’s memory; rather than healing them, making PTSD worse!

Why? In part because of:

  • The availability heuristic: “The tendency to overestimate the likelihood of events with greater ‘availability’ in memory, which can be influenced by how recent the memories are or how unusual or emotionally charged they may be.”
  • Focusing effect: “The tendency to place too much importance on one aspect of an event.”
  • Fading effect bias: “A bias in which emotions associated with unpleasant memories fades more quickly than emotions associated with positive events,” unless of course the emotions and unpleasant memories are ‘frozen’ in the victim’s memory.
  • Misinformation effect: “Memory becomes less accurate because of interference from post-event information.”
  • Telescoping effect: “The tendency to displace recent events backward in time and remote events forward in time, so that recent events appear more remote, and remote events, more recent.”

[EDITOR’S NOTE: To learn more about how cognitive biases affect the workplace, watch Timoni West‘s lecture 8 Biases That Hinder Progress In The Workplace. For more on how memory affects the brain, read the book Brainwashing’s Implication in Education, Advertising, Religion & Government by Kathleen Taylor.]

Chpt 4: Enabling children’s success

Socioeconomic status (SES) is “an economic and sociological combined total measure of a person’s work experience and of an individual’s or family’s economic and social position in relation to others, based on income, education, and occupation.”

High socioeconomic status (SES) children tend to have, on average, “higher IQs than children born into families of low socioconomic status.” A few common differences include:

  • Vocabulary base. High SES parents tend to speak to their children nearly 80% more often than low SES parents; an advantage that equips high SES children with a vocabulary base at least 50% greater than low SES children by the age of three years old.
  • Critical thinking. The way high SES parents speak to their children facilitate questions, critical thinking, and challenging assertions in people’s statements as well as in the world around them; skills which give them an advantage in school.
  • Social & emotional development. High SES parents tend to build closer, healthier relationships with their children, which sets a high bar for relationships they build with future friends, teachers, employers, their spouses…
  • Intrinsic desire. High SES parents aim to identify what their children excel at doing, and fostering an internal desire to improve, rather than imposing threats and bribes as external motivators to coax them into doing things.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more on the differences in child rearing between high- and low-SES parents, read Malcolm Gladwell‘s book Outliers: The Story of Success.]

While there is no fail-proof methodology for raising children, experts everywhere are never short of 10-step rules and qualified advice, often conflicting, on how to turn your children into “success machines.” Smart parents therefore rely on instinct and a continuing education on how raise their children.

Perhaps the best thing parents can do for their children is to instill a sense of autonomy and purpose.