The phenomenon of denial seems almost ubiquitous in the human population, a masking procedure undertaken to alleviate anxiety about future events, especially unavoidable events without remedy. Death is one example of a big bugaboo that must be scrubbed from the mind with religious belief systems. Climate change and the potential for civilizational collapse and or extinction is another. Yet another is an individual’s denial of serious medical conditions like cancer. Some fears and anxieties are not readily scrubbed from the mind like obsessive-compulsive disorders where the perception of a problem must be “remedied” over and over again without end.
The limbic system is the seat of the emotions where incoming stimuli are given an emotional score. Most stimuli don’t excite the neurons of the limbic system, but important things that are associated with reward or danger will. Long-term memories may be engaged and behaviors appropriate to the danger/reward are undertaken.
Generally it seems that the limbic system controls or influences the types of thoughts that you have and the frequency you have them. A typical human is overwhelmed thinking about obtaining rewards, sex, matters of hierarchy and social status. Thoughts that a person believes are emanating from their own self-image are actually stimulated by the processes of the limbic system. This means that the limbic system is not leaving your mindspace completely open to your will, but rather influencing it to make sure you pay attention to the important things.
The memories of rewards and fears that have been established by the amygdala and hippocampus will undoubtedly be played like a loop, reappearing in the mind to remind the person to seek certain things and avoid others. Advertiser like to shape the system by making products seem especially rewarding, playing commercial again and again so that reinforced memories are established that will from then on pop into the head automatically under the influence of the limbic system.
Cortex says, “I’m going to be rich, all I have to do is pick the right numbers.” Limbic system is excited and has seen other winners and says “yes, yes, yes, do it.” Neither the cortex or limbic system are very good at math.
If you mind seems to be dwelling on the negative, then a good dose of positive thinking is in order according to the Mayo Clinic.
Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress
Positive thinking helps with stress management and can even improve your health. Practice overcoming negative self-talk with examples provided.
Is your glass half-empty or half-full? How you answer this age-old question about positive thinking may reflect your outlook on life, your attitude toward yourself, and whether you’re optimistic or pessimistic — and it may even affect your health.
Indeed, some studies show that personality traits such as optimism and pessimism can affect many areas of your health and well-being. The positive thinking that usually comes with optimism is a key part of effective stress management. And effective stress management is associated with many health benefits. If you tend to be pessimistic, don’t despair — you can learn positive thinking skills.
Understanding positive thinking and self-talk
Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life’s less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst.
Positive thinking often starts with self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions that you create because of lack of information.
If the thoughts that run through your head are mostly negative, your outlook on life is more likely pessimistic. If your thoughts are mostly positive, you’re likely an optimist — someone who practices positive thinking.
The health benefits of positive thinking
Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
Accentuate the positive? Or perhaps delude yourself and completely eliminate the negative. “Yes, I’m going to die, but I’ll be in heaven.” “The climate is changing but I’ll like the palm trees.” Even without prompting by the Mayo clinic, the limbic system may have already started to affect cognitive processes to eliminate unproductive stress through denial.
People think they are in control of their minds and it’s true to some extent, but the limbic system is constantly prompting the “consciousness” with strongly reinforced memories of past rewards and dangers.
I found this article on Bill Gates and Steven Pinker a good example.
If you’re pessimistic about the state of world today, Bill Gates and Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker have a message for you: “This bleak assessment of the state of the world is wrong. And not just a little wrong–wrong wrong, flat-earth wrong, couldn’t-be-more-wrong.”
The quote appears on the first page of Pinker’s new book, Enlightenment Now. In a recent blog post, Bill Gates calls it his new “favorite book of all time.” Pinker and Gates are optimists. They see the world differently than most people, and they have the data to prove it. In the first few pages of Pinker’s book, he makes the point that civilization has made “spectacular progress” in nearly every possible way. Here’s the kicker–almost nobody knows about it because most people focus on the negative. Change your thinking; change your life.
Each chapter of Pinker’s book covers striking accomplishments in 15 areas including: life, health, wealth/abundance, peace, safety, equal rights, and more. In this paragraph, Pinker gives us a small glimpse of “the gifts” we take for granted:
Newborns who will live more than eight decades, markets overflowing with food, clean water that appears with a flick of a finger, and waste that disappears with another, pills that erase a painful infection…critics of the powerful who are not jailed or shot, the world’s knowledge and culture available in a shirt pocket.Bill Gates says he loves the book because leaders who make a difference focus on positive progress instead of fixating exclusively on problems.
And Pinker is a Harvard Psychology professor that should know better, but apparently his limbic system is trying to whitewash reality, probably with the realization that good news sells books. It nice to know that our political, business and academic “leaders” are mostly deluded, limbic Larrys The title of his book should be “Denial Now”. But then again, maybe fusion is just around the corner. I’m going to go somewhere and have happy thoughts now.
So successful and so brilliant and yet so deluded. Do they know of their evolved role as RNA in technological cells? It could only be better if Elon Musk were at this feel good communion.