Ever wondered how we get attracted to our potential partners, how we unconsciously & consciously couple with them and then reverse the process? Ever wondered why the same type of people keeping showing up in your life over and over again?
A couple of years back, sitting in a coffee shop somewhere in Northern Europe in between flights with Alan, a close friend who is a clinical psychologist specializing in developmental disorders and trauma, we watched a young kid playing with his pet dog, happy and blissfully unaware of the world around him. His mother comes up suddenly, forces the child to abandon the play time and gets ready to take him home. All hell breaks lose, the kid starts throwing a fit, throws things around and gets locked into a power struggle with his primary caregiver i.e. his mother, eventually submitting to the situation while still frowning. I was avidly studying interactions between humans and modeled those initial models into a simple excel based algorithm. Alan remained critical throughout the process but, became a convert when the simple excel based intuition algorithm was turning out to be more accurate than his psychological studies and training offered. I was also fascinated how sophisticated computer models spectacularly failed while modeling social science interactions. Both psychology and technology have been unable to model social interactions accurately so far.
The discussion steered off into regular long and boring intellectual debates. I could immediately fast forward and imagine the kid growing into an adult and engaged in a less intense brawl (a variant of his original experience) with his better half, reenacting the same interaction in a new context, resisting, fighting and then frowning over issues. We disagreed on one key fact, and you may want to read it and remember it. Alan, a trained psychologist with over 20 years of clinical practice, had strong convictions that psychologists could tap into previous experiences (also called priors) and use language based therapy or enactment replay thereby fixing the sub-optimal experiences or priors. My framework models supported by cognitive, evolutionary and computational neuroscience were pointing to the fact that as humans, we never lose our old experiential memories. Rather, we build the new ones on top of them as patchwork to offset their influence. As such, my models were pointing to the fact that most of the psychological interventions are useless as the original memories will eventually surface leading to all sorts of painful experiences.
My observations and cascading imaginations are not unique. Psychologists have always known that our childhood schemas re-enact over and over again. My assertion to Alan was that psychologists view schemas with a therapeutic lens i.e. how to resolve repressed unpleasant experiences. I was approaching the subject from a performance perspective. If schemas impact our lives, we could create more desirable schemas to move in a chosen direction in our life only when we have completely erased the older enactment schemas from our memories. Alan agreed that psychologists are in the business of alleviating pain and not creating strategic outcomes. Motivational Leaders and Life Coaches fill this interstitial space. I had buried myself into various types of psychology for many years, but, I was missing the neurological aspects and mechanism of unconscious pattern recognition, unconscious decision systems and everything unconscious in general psychology and neurology. Over the next few years, I steered into Artificial Intelligence, Natural Intelligence, Computational neuroscience and created a working model of the individual and collective unconscious. Insights started emerging and binding themselves in a recursive manner leading to a creation of a powerful intuition algorithm, a problem-solving framework and a significant shift in a corporate career. The insights became the nuts and bolts of an upcoming book “Cluster Patterns.”
So, how does mate recognition work and do early childhood schemas impact our Mate Recognition potential and range?
A lot of people think that they just meet, recognize and bond with their potential mates magically. Some believe in soulmates from their past lives. In this article, Instincts, Intuition or Insights ?, we highlighted the key difference between instincts and intuition being that instincts are passed on as genetic memory through our DNA to our future generations. Intuition is developed over a lifespan using our experiences. Unless our genetic codes are carrying over memories of past life into our current life, it is practically impossible that a template for a perfect or a former soulmate is being passed on. In the same article, we have also discussed that Instincts are general purpose stimulus-response codes embedded in our DNA, while Intuition helps us develop more specific memories and responses. Instincts are biological while Intuitions are cultural. We acquire our intuitions from our early environment in which we grow up. It may help you to read the article on Intuition and Insights to better grasp the fundamental differences.
It is more practical to think (and our models prove it), that something is happening within the same lifespan, the culture of origin and family of origin environment that influences our search for potential mates. Right from birth, the initial environment starts shaping the recognition systems, decision systems, value systems and preferences of an individual. We recognize our potential mates based on a complex combination of previous early life experiences which, we may not be consciously aware of. As discussed in our article “Money Glass Ceilings”, we do not realize that our past is over-represented in our present and our future takes cues from our present. In many ways, we are beholden to our past even if coaches and mentors would make you believe otherwise. We all have heard of the term “The Unconscious”, but, what is “The Unconscious” or “The Sub-Conscious.” The unconscious is a massively parallel, hierarchical, cascading, nesting and recursively looping psycho-neuro-physiological neural network which works completely below the threshold of conscious awareness. Consider it a deep layer of self-organizing computations which automatically run most of our life. As discussed in our Core Philosophy, our brain and mind matured through a particular sequence (see figure below) and neural networks developed after the evolutionary developmental systems started taking shape. This super sophisticated system is responsible the underlying processes which help us intuitively and mostly unconsciously recognize our mates.
What are our recognizing systems recognizing?
Why are we consciously unaware of the full recognition process is a topic for another post or for an upcoming six weeks program named “Mate Recognition Optimization.” All we can tell you is that the recognizing systems are recognizing a complex range of attributes, the most significant being our previously stored relational patterns with others over time (called spatiotemporal interaction patterns).
If you have always had disharmonious, push-pull relationships with the most important people in your life (parents, siblings, friends. romantic mates, ex-spouses), the recognition system is searching for people who will maintain your relational pattern. If you come across a sweet, harmonious, loving and caring mate, your unconscious decision making process will exclude this person from your search using a process of exclusion in context and search. One can break those patterns, but it is very challenging and psychology discomforting for humans. They would rather move from one painful situation into another one, blissfully unaware that their recognition systems are playing the same tape over and over again.
All Recognition Systems require a Memory
For recognition to occur, the recognizing systems require a memory. Recognition can be conscious and unconscious. Most of the recognition processes in our mind work at the unconscious level or the intuitive level, and we are blissfully unaware of them. As recognition and motor systems are connected, once we recognize something familiar, we move away or towards it usually unconsciously. This unconscious pull or push occurs in incremental, unnoticeable and graceful manner.
The movement towards or away from someone happens in discrete unconscious steps and we are usually not aware of these steps except in hindsight. Some people call this synchronicity, but, we have been able to model this in practice lifting the veil over incremental intuitive actions. Our unconscious system provides piece by piece recognition awareness using drip feed streaming to our conscious mind, intuitively propelling us towards our potential mates or repelling us away from our coupled mates. We have been involved in an elaborate study based on how “pattern recognition” occurs in human brain” and we are probably the only ones who are studying relationships from this perspective. The “unconscious recognition” process activates three systems parallelly i.e. unconscious/intuitive search, unconscious/intuitive recognition of results and unconscious/intuitive actions. The second step i.e. intuitive recognition is the weakest faculty in humans. As such, our intuitive mind within 500 ms or less moves us from Unconscious Recognition to Unconscious Intuitive Actions. It is so fast that we do not even realize that a complex process was completed in our mind.
Unless one is well trained in becoming aware of the recognition systems, you will only notice in hindsight that you were drawn to someone. Another peculiarity of the unconscious recognition system is that it recognizes the whole rather than the part. When you meet someone and you are drawn (consciously) to some behavior or attributes in them, your conscious mind is only showing you a small part of what it recognized e.g the facial features or their smile, broad shoulders, petite figures etc.. The unconscious recognition system also recognized how the pattern will unfold over time and in complexity using time series prediction. However, it keeps most of what it recognized away from your conscious awareness.
Recent research has shown that conscious recognition systems have a very narrow range while unconscious recognition systems are more complex. In short, if your potential mate ends up as abusive or emotionally unavailable, your unconscious recognition system knew that in the first place. However, it out of your awareness in the beginning as it did not see anything wrong with it being a familiar past. It may have given you subtle hints, but you would have ignored those hints as anomalies in any case. In time, the hindsight will bring those cues to your conscious awareness as the unfolding of discrete sensory experiences.
Wait, so, am I saying that our unconscious recognition systems draw us to partners that we may eventually break up with? Yes, this is exactly how it works, but it also operates in a similar way, when you get attracted to someone who did not seem interesting in the beginning, but unfolds as a very interesting person that you want to live with forever. Now, the same pattern recognition system works when you are physically surrounded by potential mates, such as in a college or workplace. The system works similarly in social media where you may be connected with a potential mate devoid of geographic distances. To read more about the recognition process works for mate recognition, read this new post “Soulmates, Romantic Love and Mate Recognition – Busting the Myths”. Once I realized that our unconscious system is responsible for all good and bad things in life, I spent the next 10 years understanding how to fix any design flaws repeatably. Mate Recognition occurs when an unconscious recognition process heavily influenced by our old schemas takes over our voluntary cognition, intuitively drawing us towards them and once the time series runs is course, intuitively uncoupling us.
It so happens that we are attracted to potential mates who have a strong resemblance to the kind/type of people (resultant types), we experienced in our early childhood. While other family members also impact these experience models, in particular, the primary caregiver(s), i.e., mother and father have a significant impact on the child’s attachment schemas. In most cases, parents are skilled at fulfilling the physical needs of a child but may not be great at fulfilling the emotional and intellectual needs of the child. As a result, those children grow into an adult whose recognition and decision-making processes are working below the optimal level. The impact of early childhood schemas is so pervasive that it impacts us every second rather than control only high intensity or high impact events in our life.
If one had people in the formative environment where one felt undervalued, ignored and experienced unresolved childhood hurt, the same pattern would keep repeating in one’s life (work, romantic life, and friends circle). I have met individuals who feel ignored in the workplace, in romantic relationships and even day to day scenarios. Once we get down to finding the larger pattern, they have an instant recognition of the recursive nature of this pattern since childhood.Our pattern recognition processes will keep on repeating the extreme and median experiences flawlessly. Needless to say, positive early childhood experiences are also replicated with the same finesse. As we have discussed in the post “How Venture Capitalists take Investment Decisions”, the schemas in our life significantly impact our choices, our decisions and shape our life trajectory.
Drones, Children and Similarities – Do you know what is common between children and drones? The fact that the control switches are outside of them, both are involuntary beings who are trying to search for volition and free choice in a controlled environment. A child’s need for validation and support from parents in early childhood makes them behave like drones. Parenting is a leadership role, and I have observed a more interesting range of leadership experiences in parenting than in the corporate world. On this note, a child learns and acquires the leadership traits from its parents, and it is not surprising to see similarities between how people behave at home and work. Early patterns permanently sculpt us, our mannerisms, our behaviors, our traits and shape our overall personality as we navigate our lives. . All of us, without any exceptions, carry these patterns way past into adulthood as primal wounds. Primal wounds have a pervasive and multidimensional impact on our future life. It is my theory in the articlethat even the renowned Steve Jobs had them till he died.
Patterns, Patterns and Patterns – As humans, we like to hang around with similar people; we eat similar food, we wake up and sleep at approximately the same time. We like some places over others, we dry our self after a wash in a similar pattern, we listen and interact with others in a similar pattern; we get angry or irritated with a particular set of people and a specific set of behaviors and so on. We are a pattern. We are a pattern storage, pattern classifying, pattern recognition and pattern replaying biological machine. We keep storing and replaying our old patterns throughout our life. The foundation of these patterns is laid many years back when as a cute, little, helpless child, we start implicitly absorbing all information from our surroundings and start forming procedural or episodic memory. I will save you the details, episodic or procedural memory is an experience trapping process, an automatic and faithful storage of the exact situation, what happened and how we responded to the situation emotionally, mentally and physically. This episodic memory is a self-replicating alien (as seen in the science fiction movies) and soon stabilizes into an “attractor network.” The attractor network is not the same as in “power of attraction,” but it works in similar ways. An attractor network is a type of recurrent dynamical network, which evolves toward a stable pattern over time and leads us involuntarily towards certain experiences and certain potential mates i.e., mates, who match our patterns. Attachment Theory offers some insights into what kind of relationships we are drawn into, however, has so far failed to detail a process by which we are automatically drawn to others.
Pattern Uploads and a Computer like Simulation
- Detect-ability – Can one detect they are in a simulation pattern.
- Exit-ability – Can we exit from it once we successfully detect the pattern.
- Subjective experience – Once detected and able to exit, do we want to exit from it. After all, all simulations are not self-defeating simulations.
Our understanding and observations are that humans can rarely detect they are in a simulation except after a disruptive life event or during a mid-life crisis. While detection is a rare event during our life span, exit-ability is even a more rare event. As highlighted in the post “Was Gautam Buddha the Biggest Inventor of the World,” I have highlighted how the founder of the Buddhist movement, found out that he was living in a simulated reality, escaped from it but eventually found himself trapped in a bigger simulated reality. It took him many years and a lot of pain and suffering to make slight headway into the final escape. Intuitive Propulsion, Intuitive Coupling & Intuitive Uncoupling?
The terms conscious uncoupling and unconscious uncoupling were made famous during the divorce of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin. The Paltrow-Martins announced their split as a conscious uncoupling, not aware that unconscious uncoupling is the key processes that occur in our brain almost unnoticed. The unconscious uncoupling process after that leads to a set of intuitive actions that reduce the bonding and intimacy levels amongst a couple. The conscious awareness of an inner desire to separate or unbond is mostly a ruse as it is “after the fact” message that pops into our conscious mind that makes us feel we are in control, and we chose that option. The so-called mechanical technique of “conscious uncoupling” was made famous by a couple of doctors named Habib Sadeghi and Sherry Sami. What they don’t know is that recent neuroscience research, starting with Dr. Benjamin Libet many years ago, has unequivocally proven that the unconscious mind takes a decision to act in a certain way 100 ms to 10 seconds before the conscious mind becomes aware of it. The conscious mind is pretty much irrelevant in the scheme of things in our life. Paltrow writes in her blog as to “how fantastic” a divorce can be, but nothing is further from the truth. While unconscious uncoupling can be a profoundly healing process for some, for the majority of us, the unconscious and conscious coupling is a high stress, life-disrupting events.
Conscious Uncoupling is a decision independent, last mile, automatic and involuntary process in the complete bonding chain in a complete bonding process right from Unconscious Coupling, Unconscious Uncoupling to Conscious Uncoupling. As our research has proven during our empirical processes, “unconscious coupling” does not mean that one will find a better partner next time around. It just means one will feel good in the short term and may accept the reality by reducing their expectations from a relationship. For the uncoupling process to be profoundly healing and transforming, one needs to indulge in significant personal transformation and significant shift in the unconscious schemas. Let us also now try and understand the concept of intuitive (unconscious) propulsion and intuitive coupling/uncoupling towards others. This concept was first highlighted by Carl Jung, the noted Swiss Psychiatrist in a fuzzy way and has fascinated me when I was 24 years old. Jung said that there was an intuitive and mostly unconscious attraction towards certain events and people in life. He attributed this propulsion or impeller type movement to Soul, but we have found that the answer lies in human neurology and the prediction-behaviour function of the human brain. The process is intuitive or unconscious in nature and works below the threshold of awareness. Intuition has many meanings, so it is important to clarify what is Intuition. Intuition is an amalgamation of right brain processes that have multiple special function modules within it namely pattern storage, classification recognition, unconscious decision-making, problem-solving, modulation of stimulus-response patterns, prediction and much more. Within intuition, there are three different functions (expertise, creation, and foresight).
Note: Intuitive expertise is where our previous schemas are stored, classified and pattern matched.
Experiences, Memory and its impact on our Choices – Extracted and Modified from the upcoming book “Cluster Patterns– Unlocking the codes on Destiny”. When a child is 0-3 years old, the left brain has not started functioning (is still forming connections) and initial impressions/experiences/relationships experiences get embedded/absorbed as imprints in the right brain. These imprints are foundational attachment models that store images of our relational patterns (from a range of attraction to repulsion, controlled relationship dynamics to liberal relationship dynamics) due to our resultant experiences in life. For the rest of our life, we keep intuitively getting drawn to versions of people who validate/match our formative models of imprinted relationships. This happens as our brain stores experiences as invariant representation and our experiences past first three years of life are nothing but a version of the original imprint. Invariant representation is a process by which our brain stores a modified and more general version of experiences in our brain and then finds people/situations that are eerily similar at the core level (personality) while allowing the higher level dimensions to change (physical looks, external behaviors, mannerisms, etc.). As an example, when one watches a movie with the same theme, the theme is an invariant schema of the movies while the actors and props can change. Invariant schemas or invariant representation is a process in which our recognition memory system, retains the most important and distinctive features of our environment while allowing others to change. Let us discuss an example here so that this can sink in. We worked with a woman in Mumbai, India, who was always getting attracted to handsome, well to do, intellectually smart but abusive partners. In between her various relationships which were short-lived, certain patterns or distinctive features stood out. The partners were always nice to start with but turned abusive.
- The partners were always nice to start with but turned abusive.
- The partners were always intellectually smart or challenging.
- The partners were always financially well off and had stable gainful careers.
- The partners were always striking in facial features.
Once we mapped out the invariant schemas using the “Optimal Search Process”, it did not take us much time to notice that her brother and father resembled the men she was unconsciously drawn towards, whom she looked up to and they had all these traits. The father was abusive to his wife till he grew older and wiser, the elder brother was accused of domestic violence and divorced, but, they shared all other striking similarities to her partners. As it happens,the woman was actively looking for validation from both the men, who just ignored her presence due to the culture and family of origin issues with a girl child. As soon the schemas were altered using “Advanced Sensate Processes”, she was able to recognize and couple with someone who met all the characteristics. Her “memory schemas” were straightforward but all memory schemas are not so simple. Inspite of that, the non self serving schemas can be altered with some amount of work. Our brain is always working to match our invariant schemas (general themes in our life) with our external environment. One should note that any amount of conscious effort to control our mental models is largely ineffective and only works for a short period. Eventually the intuitive brain a.k.a unconscious takes over and places one on auto pilot. Read : How the Intuitive Mind Works Due to the process of invariant representation, our unconscious keeps drawing us to proximate versions (same at the core level, i.e., behaviors but different in topmost layers, i.e., mannerisms) of the original. These people seem different initially, and we get baited into an intuitive coupling but over time series ( the span of relationship), our mate (s) play out their core personalities. Only after some time has passed the enfolded unfolds, we find this surprising similarity to our earlier environment (Simulated Lockdown). I have tried to explain the process of coupling and uncoupling on an energetic level, but we now have a reliable and tested framework on the “How” of this process. We use this model with our clients to devise effective strategies for achieving individual/business outcomes.
Physical attraction (Type 1) lasts for a very short period, followed by emotional attraction (Type 2) which lasts a little longer due to dependence issues but intellectual attraction (Type 3) is relatively stable over longer periods. The most stable dyads, however, are Type 4 and Type 5. Once people move to Type 4 and Type 5, dependence patterns shifts over to interdependence which finally changes over to collaboration. The relationship dyads based on collaboration are most stable while those based on dependence (neediness) are most unstable. We also had an interesting observation during an ethnographic study that people will predominantly completely ignore or unconsciously uncouple from their so-called “soulmates” as their pattern based time series run does not allow these people to remain viably connected with them. Sadly, an unconscious coupling occurs more often due to this potential unviability in the system.In simple words, if one comes across their “soulmate” between the age of 0-35 years, there is a great likelihood (more than 60% chance) that they will ignore their potential perfect fits and get drawn to faulty projections of their invariant schemas. The second or third choice is likely to be much better due to experiential wisdom. Some people in the spiritual world call these repetitive patterns as karmic destiny. What feels like a karmic pattern can be changed if one can find a way to change their right brain stored templates (mental models). The process, though, is accompanied with a with a lot of psychological discomforts and only rare individuals can exit the loaded simulations.