Welcome to Sott.net
Thu, 23 Feb 2017
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


Ten Steps to Letting Go of Resentment

Resentment refers to the mental process of repetitively replaying a feeling, and the events leading up to it, that goads or angers us. We don't replay a cool litany of facts in resentment; we re-experience and relive them in ways that affect us emotionally, physiologically, and spiritually in very destructive ways. The inability to overcome resentment probably constitutes the single most devastating impediment to repairing a disintegrating intimate connection, family rift, or severed friendship.

Although resentments may be provoked by recent, specific angry conflicts between two people, they usually encapsulate an enmity that goes much further back. Your parent, child, sibling or partner may accuse you of a recent snub or slight but the venom is more than likely fueled by years of other imagined or real episodes of disrespect or disregard. For example, your spouse may become enraged by a broken promise or breach of attentiveness, but if they can't let go of it, it's probably ignited by a long history of neglect, exasperation, and frustration. Your parent or sibling may accuse you of forgetting an event like their birthday, but again, the most recent accusation is just the trigger for these feelings. The strong reaction of resentment almost never appears to be warranted by what sets it off. It's always the product of a long history of backed-up unhappiness. What causes the unhappiness that underlies resentment?

Comment: Here is some additional food for thought and what Carlos Castaneda had to say on the matter of Self-Importance, which ties into resentment in that a core issue of both is being offended, upset, hurt, angry or resentful, etc. at others:
Self-importance is our greatest enemy. Think about it--what weakens us is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of our fellow men. Our self-importance requires that we spend most of our lives offended by someone.

Every effort should be made to eradicate self-importance from the lives of warriors. Without self-importance we are invulnerable.

Self-importance can't be fought with niceties.

Seers are divided into two categories. Those who are willing to exercise self-restraint and can channel their activities toward pragmatic goals, which would benefit other seers and man in general, and those who don't care about self-restraint or about any pragmatic goals. The latter have failed to resolve the problem of self-importance.

Self-importance is not something simple and naive. On the one hand, it is the core of everything that is good in us, and on the other hand, the core of everything that is rotten. To get rid of the self-importance that is rotten requires a masterpiece of strategy.

In order to follow the path of knowledge one has to be very imaginative. In the path of knowledge nothing is as clear as we'd like it to be. Warriors fight self-importance as a matter of strategy, not principle.

Impeccability is nothing else but the proper use of energy. My statements have no inkling of morality. I've saved energy and that makes me impeccable. To understand this, you have to save enough energy yourself.

Warriors take strategic inventories. They list everything they do. Then they decide which of those things can be changed in order to allow themselves a respite, in terms of expending their energy.

The strategic inventory covers only behavioral patterns that are not essential to our survival and well-being.

In the strategic inventories of warriors, self-importance figures as the activity that consumes the greatest amount of energy, hence, their effort to eradicate it.


Think you're great at multitasking? Surprise - you are probably less efficient and may even be damaging your brain

© Getty
You may have heard that multitasking is bad for you, but studies show that it kills your performance and may even damage your brain. Every time you multitask you aren't just harming your performance in the moment; you may very well be damaging an area of your brain that's critical to your future success at work.

Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.

Comment: Multi-tasking also increases the chance of making mistakes, missing important information and cues. Multi-taskers are also less likely to retain information in working memory, which can hinder problem solving and creativity.


Is vengeance really sweet? Researchers uncover the mood-enhancing effects of revenge

© British Psychological Society
When we feel ostracised, we're more likely to behave aggressively. Previous research suggests that vengeance on those who we think have wronged us can be driven by a sense of justice, and may activate neural reward centres. But being ostracised can also lead to generalised aggression, even lashing out at unrelated people, so there seems to be more going on. In new research in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, David Chester and C. Nathan DeWall tested the idea that social rejection, by making us feel wounded and unwanted, triggers a need to repair our mood by whatever means available, including through the satisfaction of causing harm to those who have made us suffer. They found that aggression can indeed be a viable method of mood repair.

The researchers asked 156 participants to write an essay on a personal topic, then to swap their essays with other participants to receive feedback on what they'd written. One group of participants received nasty feedback (actually composed by the researchers): "one of the worst essays I have EVER read". Chester and DeWall measured mood before and after participants were given the chance to express a symbolic form of aggression: sticking pins in a virtual voodoo doll imagined as the person who had given them mean feedback. This act of (un)sympathetic magic did indeed repair mood for the rejected participants, to the point where their mood was indistinguishable from participants who'd received nice feedback.

But just because revenge can boost our mood doesn't mean that we behave aggressively because we're seeking that better mood. To investigate motives, the researchers next invited 154 participants to the lab and gave each a pill, telling them it would enhance their thinking for the tests to come. Some of the participants were further told that the pill had a peculiar side-effect: once it kicked in, their mood would become fixed and unchanging (all these claims about the pill were a fiction, it was an inert placebo).

Comment: Accepting criticism with dignity and calm reflection is a sign of maturity. Revenge, in any case, is more of the bittersweet variety. It may feel good in the short term but leads to stagnation, not growth.


The Worry Solution: Using your mind to turn anxiety to calmness

Worry may well be one of the most common causes of suffering in America. Besides being troublesome in and of itself, worry is also a contributing factor for overeating, alcoholism, smoking, drug abuse and many other compulsive disorders.

In this interview, Dr. Martin Rossman, author of "The Worry Solution" book and CD set, provides simple and practical tools for addressing chronic worry. Rossman has a long-standing interest in the practical importance of attitudes, beliefs and emotions in mind-body medicine.

His awareness of the impact of worry came early in his career. After graduating from medical school in 1969 and finishing his internship at a county clinic in Oakland, California, he ran an urban house call practice for about a year and a half.

He initially started doing house calls in order to find out why people were having such problems implementing healthy lifestyle changes.

Comment: More information on the many ways we can use our minds to induce healing:


The most useful life skills every 20-something should master

Your 20s can be a confusing time.

You might not be in school anymore, but you still have plenty to learn before you're a fully functioning adult.

Meaning now, you're on your own.

To help you navigate this tricky decade, we reviewed several Quora threads on helpful skills and ways to spend time in your 20s and highlighted the most useful insights.

Here are the life skills every 20-something should master.

1. How to just be honest

When you're late to an appointment, it's tempting to pin the blame on gridlock or train delays.

Instead, says Quora user Michael Hoffman, "just apologise. You don't have to give details. 'I planned poorly' is a hundred times better than risking your integrity by inanely blaming traffic."

2. How to receive criticism

No one likes to be told they're wrong or even that they could be doing something more effectively. As Abhinav Gupta writes, it's easy to resent the person critiquing you or completely ignore them.

Nonetheless, Gupta says, "in order to succeed in life you should always accept criticism and always respond positively to it and never think ill of people who point out your mistakes."

Comment: Sage advice in the era of precious snowflake millenials.

People 2

Questioning the consensus: Maybe we can't really measure "implicit bias"

© Jordin Isip / The Chronicle Review
I harbor a moderate preference for white faces. You probably do, too: About 70 percent of people who take the race version of the Implicit Association Test show the same tendency — that is, they prefer faces with typically European-American features over those with African-American features. Since it first went online in 1998, millions have visited Harvard's Project Implicit website, and the results have been cited in thousands of peer-reviewed papers. No other measure has been as influential in the conversation about unconscious bias.

That influence extends well beyond the academy. The findings come up often in discussions of police shootings of black men, and the concept of implicit bias circulated widely after Hillary Clinton mentioned it during the presidential campaign. The test provides scientific grounding for the idea that unacknowledged prejudice often lurks just below society's surface. "When we relax our active efforts to be egalitarian, our implicit biases can lead to discriminatory behavior," according to the Project Implicit website, "so it is critical to be mindful of this possibility if we want to avoid prejudice and discrimination."

In other words, beware your inner bigot.

But the link between unconscious bias, as measured by the test, and biased behavior has long been debated among scholars, and a new analysis casts doubt on the supposed connection.


Is it possible to get narcissists to feel empathy?

© Flickr/ihave3kids
A simple technique to help narcissists develop more fellow-feeling. Narcissists aren't much interested in other people's suffering, or, for that matter, any of other people's feelings.

Erica Hepper, the author of a new study on the subject, explains that narcissists are:
"A bit full of themselves, self-centered, and don't seem too concerned about the effects they have on other people."
New research by Hepper and colleagues shows, though, that narcissists can be made to feel empathy, if given a nudge in the right direction (Hepper et al., 2014).

In the study, participants were split into two groups: 'low narcissists' and 'high narcissists'. Those high on narcissism in this study were not considered to have a clinical disorder.

Blue Planet

How cultural contexts can shape mental illness

As a student of literature, I've spent a lot of time studying cultural narratives - the stories we tell ourselves in order to make sense of our reality. Browsing through the Hearing Voices Café newspapers at Wellcome Collection's 'Bedlam' exhibition the other day got me thinking: what bearing might cultural narratives surrounding mental illness have on an individual's expression and experience of psychopathology?

Clinicians have been learning more and more in recent years about how things like geographic location, worldview, ethnicity, religious beliefs, societal expectations, culturally specific ideas about interdependence versus individuality, family structure and availability of resources can all influence the types, rates and prognoses of mental illnesses across cultures. Considering mental illness within relevant cultural contexts can provide clues about the kinds of symptoms people might experience; the degree to which they will have to contend with social stigmas; the presence or absence of a support network at home; the likelihood that they will seek help; and the effectiveness of different treatment or management strategies. What have we been culturally conditioned to think about mental health and, by extension, ourselves?

The fourth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Western psychiatry's authoritative mental health reference manual) contained a list of twenty-five culture-bound syndromes. The DSM-V has since replaced that oversimplified definition with the three concepts of cultural syndromes, cultural idioms of distress and cultural explanations of distress. Some syndromes have been found to be less localised than previously thought, and have instead been identified by different names or variations in expression across cultures.

Comment: More food for thought:

Cultural insanity: Ponerized Western consumer culture is creating a demoralized man in psycho-spiritual crisis


Change your life by trusting your future self

It's the first week of 2017, and Science of Us is exploring the science that explains how people make meaningful changes in their lives. Handy information for resolution season.

Being a human is hard. We know the sorts of choices we ought to make, and we earnestly intend to make them, but when the time comes, we don't. We want to lose weight, but we eat a sundae. We want to get in shape, but we sit on the couch. We want to save money, but we buy a plane ticket to Italy.

Funnily enough, scientists can't agree why this is.

The dominant idea in psychology and popular culture alike is that we have a part of our brain that is rational and knows what's good for us, and another part that's impulsive and wants bad things. They struggle on and on and eventually the rational part gets tired and gives in. Game over. It's a depressing picture.

What you might not have heard, though, is that in recent years a competing model has emerged from the field of addiction studies. In this conception, the human brain doesn't have two warring parts, but one unitary system that prioritizes immediately rewarding options over those that pay off later.

The struggle, then, isn't really between good and bad, but between the future and the present. And what's exciting about this way of looking at things is that not only does this explain why some people can, and do, win the battle against temptation, but it also gives the rest of us a strategy for how we can do the same.


Hard-wired: The brain's circuitry for political belief

© Photo/Courtesy of Brain and Creativity Institute at USC
The amygdala -- the two almond-shaped areas hugging the center of the brain near the front -- tends to become active when people dig in their heels about a political belief.
A USC-led study confirms what seems increasingly true in American politics: People become more hard-headed in their political beliefs when provided with contradictory evidence.

Neuroscientists at the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC said the findings from the functional MRI study seem especially relevant to how people responded to political news stories, fake or credible, throughout the election.

"Political beliefs are like religious beliefs in the respect that both are part of who you are and important for the social circle to which you belong," said lead author Jonas Kaplan, an assistant research professor of psychology at the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. "To consider an alternative view, you would have to consider an alternative version of yourself."

To determine which brain networks respond when someone holds firmly to a belief, the neuroscientists with the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC compared whether and how much people change their minds on nonpolitical and political issues when provided counter-evidence.

Comment: For more information on this phenomenon, check out the work of Bob Altemeyer, author of The Authoritarians which can be downloaded for free from his website. The article: Bob Altmeyer's Global Game Change and the authoritarian personality, is also a terrific read.