In the previous article, I build a plausible theory on how we unconsciously draw our potential mates guided by our historical schemas. Some of you out there believe in the law of attraction and the concept that the universe will conspire to get you what you want. That is right in some way that we do get drawn to people who match our schemas. However, the law of attraction methods somehow enfold the basic principles of “perception and action sequences” and gives it an esoteric, supernatural or mythical color. Law of Attraction also makes people believe that they can attract someone whom they do not deserve without changing themselves at all. In this piece, I will highlight the nuts and bolts of the unconscious decision-making process that goes behind selecting our mates, most of which occurs beneath our conscious awareness, while we are blissfully unaware of it. I assure you that it will work more effectively and with more repeatability than Law of Attraction. The only caveat is that you should be ready to wait it out, remain in disciplined pursuit and be ready for significant transformation.
As discussed elsewhere, we are always in the process of recreating our older schemas or early acquired relationship patterns. Most of these patterns are acquired unconsciously and experientially, and unless one undertakes significant personal development initiatives, we remain blissfully unaware of these patterns as if we are in a trance. We do not know what we do not know.
Over our lifetime, we keep engineering our environment to recreate older schemas using our unconscious perceptions and actions. Yes, you read it right, we unconsciously keep engineering our actions within our environment to generate results based on old programs. Things are not happening to us and people are not getting attracted us magnetically. Instead, we are pro-actively creating our destiny guided by older, obsolete and non-self-serving patterns by taking intuitive, small, discrete and continuous actions. Our prospective partners are also following the same process of taking small, discrete and continuous actions called “search and planning sequence” in Artificial Intelligence.
What you are seeking is seeking you ! ~ Rumi
Sometimes, these schemas or old programs, may come from our early childhood and may have been indirectly acquired from our parents rather than us directly. At other times, our schemas come from our own milestone painful experiences in life. Our models of relationships are also influenced from our family of origin and culture of origin deeply impacting the type of relationships we will experience as we mature into adults.
The process of forming and maintaining a relationship between two people is usually very complex as the process is entirely directed by the partners’ unconscious minds, usually by their sub-optimal subpersonalities, in a way that “the connection just happens”. The amount of effort people input into invoking ceremonies around new milestone relationships is thousand times more than the effort they put into the relationships itself.
The unconscious mind is made of multiple sub-personalities and as discussed elsewhere in great detail, these sub-personalities run a very sophisticated process of inference, choice, judgement and action. They also search the environment for possibilities that match their belief system or schemas, eliminating those that do not match its pre-conceived or familiar models. The relationship between two partners is between their various sub-personalities which are unconsciously connected and drawn to each other. These sub-personalities play a crucial part in unconscious decision making , unconscious recognition and unconscious reflex type action.
After having gone through few sub-optimal relationships, we reach a point where we consciously want something new or different. Sometimes, we tend to take a break hoping that it will clear our minds and make us gravitate to something different, something new, something better. At other times, we hop on from one partner to another fairly quickly.
If there was ever a large-scale research done on this subject, it will unequivocally show that in spite of which path we take to move across new partners, we almost always gravitate towards older schemas using unconscious decision making. Schemas do not change by taking a break or by consciously understanding our bad schemas, they only change once we make a deliberate effort in changing the schemas by changing our perception and action patterns.
I have come across many people who asymmetrically attribute blame to their other halves in their previous broken relationships. These people are most prone to create legacy mistakes in future relationships as they have not taken the time to understand what part they themselves played in the disharmonious bonding. Having spoken to some who feel victimized, it is not hard to notice that the portrayal is of is someone who was caught off-guard, somehow by their sneaky, dishonest, defective other halves. As with most things in life, deception can only occur if people buy into deception. Deceived people played their part, even though they do not believe so.
Getting into and out of defective and sub-optimal relationships is similar to the process of getting into a job, getting disappointed with some aspects of the job environment or role and seeking a new job to feel different or to experience something new. We got into the job without doing due diligence and without clearly knowing what we wanted in the first place. As is fairly common knowledge, soon enough, we realize that the same unresolved issues in the previous job resurface in the new job. The reason of this cyclical repeat is that we have asymmetrically laid blame on everyone except us (the economy, the supervisor, the culture, the country etc.) and failed to change ourselves as we contributed to the problem in the first place. Soon enough, even in a new place, which is buzzing with new possibilities, we gravitate towards the older possibilities and engineer older schemas.
What is a Soulmate and how do we know we have found them ?
Mary C. Lamia Ph.D. in Psychology Today, classifies “the term “soulmate” as a relationship or connection with a special affinity, understanding, or powerful bond that exists between one person and another.” That is where the good part ends.
Some pop psychologists claims that you’ll know you’ve found your soulmate when you accept a person as who they really are and don’t try to change anything about them. Sounds familiar in the beginning of your last broken relationship ?
Now reflect for a moment as to how did it end for you ? There are other myths which propagate the theory that there will be obvious signs you have found your soulmate. Obvious means familiar which translates into same ole, same ole. As I will discuss in the next essay, obviousness is a treacherous friend when searching for your soulmate who has the potential to transform you and fulfill you. Perfect soulmates are anything but obvious and they require the skills of an avid observer who can see past the obviousness. As they say, “Only a discerning eye can value finer things and discerning eyes are not common”
Great relationships are positively transforming for both partners, the changes are subtle, dominantly blameless and there is usually a lot of improved bandwidth as the partners improve and grow. If you are looking for perfect relationships all through your journey without thinking you will adapt and change, then you are chasing illusionary unicorns as they are similar to non-existent perfect partners and perfect employees.
Most people think that they can find a perfect fit, and everything will be hunky dory from there on. Nothing is farther from the truth. Good relationships between two people very seldom “just happen. They are work in progress, require frequent input, effective structuring, constant monitoring and effective communication – and a major commitment on the part of both partners. What makes it hard is that the older and ingrained unconscious sub-personalities (a repertoire of stimulus-response patterns in the unconscious mind) come in the way of sustaining a perfect relationship. Great relationships require a lot more work than most people set out to scope. It is no wonder that majority of the relationships experience a major deterioration in their quality as time progresses due to the entropic nature of the relationships. Entropy is having a tendency to change from a state of order to a state of disorder. Entropy will take what started as a perfectly relationship and regress to the schema mean i.e. your early life acquired schema of relationship.
Challenges with breaking Older Schemas
The problem or breaking old schemas is aggravated by three other issues:
- A well researched fact that our unconscious decisions are unconscious as in, they are not easily privy to inspection, correction, or diagnosis. We sometimes go through an illusion that next time around, we will use conscious and deliberate choices to find something different or better. Our unconscious schemas trick us into believing that we are in control while always retaining full control and veto power of creating same ole schemas. In the brilliantly penned booked “Strangers to Ourselves – Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious”, Timothy Wilson posits a theory that people rarely know the causes of their own behavior and makes the pivotal argument that huge chunks of our lives are the consequence of our life events. We don’t shape our life so much as our life has shaped us.
- Insight into causes of our behavior is not the same thing as changes in unconscious behavior. A lot of people will seek relationship and life coaches or psychologists and come back with a renewed understanding of their deficits. Unfortunately, insight is just the first and easiest step of the change process. The journey to changed behavior is far more challenging and arduous. Most people do not have the discipline or motivation to go the last mile and transform themselves.
- The third problem is that traditionally, conscious thought is considered to lead to good choices. However, because of its low capacity to process multiple factors, it actually leads to worse choices on issues that are more complex. On the other hand, unconscious thought, deliberation without attention, is often considered to lead to poor choices. However, with unconscious thought, the quality of choice does not deteriorate with increased complexity but will remain the same. Therefore, unconscious thought actually leads to better choices when encountering complex issues. We can make our unconscious deliberation to work for us, if we know how it works, how to provide it a unique outcome and how to help it achieve that new outcome. It needs a lot of help and hand holding when it wants to create new schemas.
“When making a decision of minor importance, I have always found it advantageous to consider all the pros and cons. In vital matters however … the decision should come from the unconscious, from somewhere within ourselves.”
— Sigmund Freud, cited in Dijksterhuis (2004)
Researchers[i] tested the above hypothesis in a series of studies measuring choice quality and post-choice satisfaction after participants used conscious and unconscious deliberation. The studies supported the deliberation-without-attention effect: conscious thinkers were better able to make normatively more desirable choices between simple products, but unconscious thinkers were better able to choose between complex products. Furthermore, after making a complex decision, conscious thinkers were less likely to be satisfied with their choice than unconscious thinkers. – Source – Wikipedia
The above theories posit two unique challenges for us :
- If our unconscious decision-making process which has been acquired during early childhood is faulty due to sub-optimal schemas picked up from our early environment, the unconscious mind will keep repeating those bad choices over and over again while tricking us every time that next time it will be different. Even when we tap into new possibilities, our older unconscious schemas will create faulty recognition of the better possibilities by veering us away from them. The real problem is that for a different result to occur, we need to experience significant transformation before we can attract something different to us.
Don’t waste your time chasing butterflies. Mend your garden, and the butterflies will come.” – Mario Quintana
Even if we become aware of the faulty unconscious schema, consciously trying to control the functioning of the schema is futile as it will lead to even more poor choices than the ones being made by the faulty schema in the first schema. It will create a net- net negative effect leading to buyer’s remorse over time.
The only way is to change/transform our unconscious schemas where our unconscious decision-making routines and sub-routines reside. I must caution everyone that this is a very challenging process that can easily throw even experienced people off guard. As you will learn, the ability to free ourselves from our learned limitations is easier said than done. Use this with caution and under guidance of an experienced coach. Before I explain the process in detail, my own experiential journey will put things in a better perspective.
The Unconscious Decision-Making Process
Alright, let us get to the unconscious decision-making part now. In the rest of the essay, I will highlight the below:
- How our unconscious decisions (both good and bad) are relayed to us through our body feelings or intuitive hunches. Do note that they are not the same as gut feelings. Damasio (1994) called these somatic or body based guidances as somatic markers. These unconscious decisions are usually under complete command of our older schemas, so they draw us towards familiar partners while drawing us away from optimal ones by creating unconscious doubts, unconscious fears and general resistance. If we are not skilled in changing schemas, we will experience rapid vacillation between Yays and Nays. I will show you how to fix it by minimizing the vacillations. As a side note, “how would you know that you’ve found your soulmate ?”. Well, by recognizing your body feelings which you should be careful of trusting as these are the same body feelings that got you into trouble the last time around. The key is to reduce the vacillations between Yays and Nays and learn to trust your new body feelings, which are creating doubts, rather than the older ones which are confirming your bias.
- How unconscious decision-making process is radically different from the classical decision-making process where we write down attributes, assign weights to them, carry out cumulative weighted average and voilla, the best decision is taken. On the contrary, the unconscious decision making is a precipitative process which runs in parallel processing rather than sequential processing. Average weighting is done unconsciously, but, if you do not know how to fix a faulty weight you have assigned to an attribute (e.g., looks of a person), the error will propagate forward. Faulty weighting process can steal and starve weights from attributes which may have lead to long term success. I will show how to take long term good decisions using this precipitative process and correction of average weighting.
- There is always a fight between sneaky, older schemas that generate gut feelings and intuitive hunches at times and the new schemas who are trying to create something new. It is very hard for people to rely on new intuitive hunches as they are new and unfamiliar. We end up evaluating new situations using older schema lenses leading to a regression to the mean. I will show you how to fix this critical problem.
- Finally, significant research from Max Plank Institute of Brain Research has shown that our unconscious takes decisions seconds or minutes before we consciously become aware of the decision. Using AI, Cybernetics, and Engineering Control Systems theory, I will create a plausible theory that our unconscious takes decisions years, months and weeks before we become aware of those decisions. So, in this part of the essay, I will show you how to take control of the unconscious and start modifying its decisions today so you can be ahead of the curve years ahead.
Tighten up your seat belts and wait for Part III of this essay, it is going to be fun ride.