Two Minds

It was raining that day I met my friend at the pub.

“I have just lost my girlfriend over a heated argument because she was seeing someone else, behind my back, and wanted to break it off between us.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“I hate her and I never want to see her again. I’m better off without her. I feel free now,” my friend shouted.

But as he was saying this, tears welled up in his eyes.

“It’s funny though, I still feel sad when I talk about her. Why is that?”

My friend was looking for answers.

“Bartender, two beers here, please.”

The beers came and we both took long gulps.

“Well, my friend, we all have TWO minds.”

“Two minds? I thought I only had one,” my friend said quizzically.

“No, you have TWO. One that THINKS, the rational mind, this one is very aware, thoughtful and able to ponder, reflect and analyze. And one that FEELS, the emotional mind, which is impulsive, powerful and sometimes illogical.”

“So, how am I to know which one to use?”

“It’s difficult because we can be so reasonable at one moment and so irrational the next.”

“This is getting confusing.”

“Sometimes you don’t have time to decide which mind to use because the emotional mind is quicker than the rational mind, it springs into action without considering what it is doing.”

“Yea, that’s right, sometimes I jump into action and then later think, “What did I do that for?”

“That’s your rational mind kicking in.”

“How can I control these impulses?”

“Well, our feelings come to us as a fait accompli. A thing that has been done and decided and can’t be altered. But the rational mind can CONTROL the course of your reactions. So don’t be overly emotional and react, wait until your thinking can control those reactions.”

“Easier said than done.”

“That’s right, but it can be done if you get into the right habit of thinking before acting.”

“Not all our reactions are shaped by rational judgments, a lot are shaped by our distant past.”

“How’s that? Said my friend, looking perplexed.

“We have lots of automatic reactions left over from our evolutionary history. These reactions were the difference between survival and death.”

“Now it’s getting scary!”

“Relax, I will explain. In the Stone Age we were wired with these emotions(fight or flight) to guide us. It worked well for thousands of generations, but certainly NOT the last ten. The forces of evolution have shaped the way we react and it worked well for a million years, but with the rise of civilization, this emotional evolution sometimes hinders us. So, we confront modern dilemmas with the emotional reactions tailored to life in the Stone Age.”

“WOW!” My friend was gobsmacked!

“Another problem I have is that when someone scowls at me I react with fear.”

“Well, you told me once that you were beaten by your father when you were a child. Your father probably scowled at you before the beatings. Now, you react with fear when someone scowls at you, even though the scowl carries no threat to you.”

Everything you’re telling me is scary. Now you are telling me the PAST imposes itself on the PRESENT.”

“That’s right. But the good news is the two minds, the emotional and the rational operate in harmony for the most part and they guide us. There is a balance between feeling and thinking minds, with emotion informing the thinking mind, and the thinking mind refining and maybe vetoing the emotional inputs.”

We both finished our beers and walked out into the SUNSHINE.

The Man That Had All Three!

I was taking a walk in the park, enjoying nature, when I decided to take a load off my feet. So I sat down on my favorite bench. I regarded it as my bench because I sat there so often. When out of nowhere a bloke sat down next to me.

He seemed to be in a conversation with himself.

After a few minutes of distraction, I said:

“Are you okay, fella?”

He turned to me and gave me a blank look.

“Oh, I didn’t see you there. Oh yes, I’m okay, I just hear voices and see ghosts.”

“Oh, you have hallucinations?”

“Oh no, they are real.”

I was taken aback. My bench mate continued:

“I’m a very important person, you see, so somebody is interviewing me.”

Delusions of Grandeur, I thought.

“I saw a women sawed in half once at the variety show.”

“I think that was an optical illusion.”

“No it wasn’t, I know, I saw it!”

I wondered how I could help this fella.

“People don’t take me seriously,” he interrupted my thoughts.

“It’s no wonder,” I said, “You are an unusual fella in that you have illusions and don’t realize they are illusions. Also, you have delusions and hallucinations. You have all three things that defy reality!”

“What’s wrong with that?” he said, happily.

“Back in olden times they took these things as signs of madness,” I said, trying to shake him loose from his demons.

He smiled and then started laughing.

“Okay, what’s the difference between the three?”

“Well, I’m no psychiatrist, but here’s what I think. An illusion is like when your eyes play tricks on you. Something that seems to be something it is not. A delusion is a false belief with no basis in reality. And, finally, a hallucination is the perception of something, a noise, smell, a sight, that is not there.”

“Well, now I know how I think,” he said, laughing

“You should see a psychiatrist.”

“No, I’m perfectly happy the way I am, thank you.”

And with that, he walked away mumbling to himself.