Question Your Interpreter to Rewire Your Beliefs
Our conscious thought and emotions are the fruit of the beliefs and assumptions that reside deep in our subconscious, where we are often completely unaware of them. Unfortunately, many of the beliefs we hold near and dear are fictions that don’t accurately represent reality. Neuroscientists have identified a part of the left hemisphere of our brains, sometimes called the interpreter, as the source of the familiar internal narrative that gives us confidence our own beliefs and views. Researchers have recently discovered the peculiar and unreliable nature of the narrative told by the interpreter.
Researcher Antonio Damasio explains that “perhaps the most important revelation is precisely this: that the left cerebral hemisphere of humans is prone to fabricating verbal narratives that do not necessarily accord to the truth.” Michael Gazzaniga states, “The left brain weaves its story in order to convince itself and you that it is in full control... The interpreter is really trying to keep our personal story together. To do that, we have to learn to lie to ourselves.”
Often when we think we’re being perfectly rational, we’re being sucker punched by our own irrational thinking.
This subconscious behavior explains how we get ourselves into the painful situations that create stress and suffering for ourselves and others. It can lead us to believe that we must be tough guy, the pleaser, the victim, or the achiever, or any number of other false selves. Negative emotion, stress, and our flight-flight-freeze response are signs that the we are being taken out by our own thinking.
Once we begin to question the interpreter within, we gain the ability to rewire the false beliefs, assumptions, and mental model that guide what we think, say, and do. We can stop arguing with reality and accept what is. Stephen Pressfield highlighted our frequent futility when he said, “Wanting reality to be different that it is is hopeless... When I argue with reality, I lose–but only 100% of the time.”
Some questions that can help us start to set our interpreter straight include:
- How does being angry, confused, disappointed, or frustrated help when something happens?
- What false beliefs are my negative emotions highlighting?
- What is the truth?