Paradigms and Subconscious Mind


What do paradigms have to do with the subconscious mind? First we need to understand what we mean by a paradigm, and what is subconscious mind. We will discuss the meaning of paradigm in this article. To know about Subconscious Mind, please read my article "What is Subconscious Mind? How Does it Impact our Behaviour?"

What is a Paradigm?

The term paradigm needs an explanation as it has different connotations for different people. It is very difficult to define or explain. But it is beautifully explained through a story or a riddle which goes as follows:

A father and son were once driving in a car on a highway. Unfortunately the car met with an accident and the father died on the spot. The son was badly injured. He was rushed to the hospital where the city's best surgeon was called to attend on him. The surgeon looked at the boy and said, "I cannot operate on my son". Who was the surgeon?

The riddle has foxed many a persons I have asked it to. I am sure you too are still trying to figure it out. Try once again before you see the answer in the next paragraph.

Let me tell you the answer. The most famous surgeon of the town was the boy's mother!

Now why do most people fail to figure this out? It is because of the pre-conceived notion which is deeply ingrained in our minds that the most successful surgeon can be only a man and not a woman. Our mind is conditioned in such a way that when we hear the word "surgeon", we picture a male surgeon. The word surgeon only brings up the image of a male. This is due to a solid conditioning of our mind - a notion that sits deep into our minds because of the surroundings, because of the experiences of our lifetime, due to what we see and hear right from our childhood. This is what is called a paradigm. A paradigm is a set of assumptions, concepts, values, practices and rules that constitutes a way of viewing reality, a set of assumed rules which forms the basis of our conclusions and decisions.

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Paradigm and Subconscious mind

Our mind is full of such conclusions that our brain has once processed and saved safely - some of them are logical and some absolutely illogical. These conclusions get into our subconscious mind and we use these for our day to day judgements. Some of the judgements may be illogical because they may be the ones accumulated during your childhood when you did not have the maturity to judge right. Times change, conditions change, our age changes to make us more mature, but some such paradigms remain hidden in our subconscious mind. My article What is Subconscious Mind....?" discusses in details the how and why of this phenomenon.

If you analyse the way one thinks or arrives at conclusions, we make judgements based on conclusions which in turn are based on some of our subconscious paradigms. And when we do so, we do not even know that we are basing our decision on these paradigms which may be absolutely illogical. When you were trying to find an answer to the riddle about the surgeon, did you know that your brain was working with a fixed notion that the best surgeon in town could only be a male, or maybe even a notion that a surgeon could only be a male? Were you even aware of your preconceived notion? Isn't it true then that our brain often arrives at conclusions and decisions based on absolutely illogical premises and we don't even realize it?

In everyday life, our brain makes continuous split-second decisions and drives our actions every moment. If this was the way our brain worked when it had sufficient time to analyse and produce an output, imagine what would be the quality of decisions when it has to make decisions in split seconds. And you can also imagine the quality of our actions based on such decisions!

And we often say that I am highly balanced person and I make my decisions based on weighed facts!! Can you still make the same claim? The answer can only be a big 'No'.

Most often our actions and decisions are not really controlled. We are driven by some subconscious precepts drilled in our mind and we do not even know that we are making decisions based on illogical paradigms. Some of these subconscious precepts are based on judgements and conclusions which we made in a very tender age when we could not even think clearly. And these conclusions often get reinforced by some incidents and the paradigms go deeper and deeper in the subconscious mind.

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What is the Learning?

What can we learn and gain from this discussion? We need to appreciate that man cannot always act based on well thought out decisions or mature arguments. His action may depend on some very illogical conclusions fixated in the brain. So if you find someone behaving funny or inconsistent, please be aware that the person is not acting out of choice but is driven. Understand that this applies to you too, as you are no different from the others. You are as illogical as you think others are. So to judge a person based on just one or two actions is not appropriate. Since you do not know what the circumstances are under which a person behaves the way he does, it will be good to take a little lenient view of the people and not make instant adverse judgements of people we meet. Let us assume that people are good by default unless proved otherwise beyond doubt.

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copyright © 2006 Prem Kamble (Updated:2016)

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