The 4 R’s: Repeat and Rationalize vs. Recognize and Reorganize

David Krueger MD

Repeat: Are you repeating an old story hoping for a better outcome?

The brain operates efficiently, to expend the least amount of energy to do a task. This efficiency means that the brain takes shortcuts based on what it already knows—the tracks already laid with neurons tailored to certain tasks. The shortcuts save energy. The software developed for past experiences shape current perception and processing. Psychoanalysts call this transference. Neuroscientists call it the efficiency principle. Behavioral economists call it diagnosis bias (physicians should as well, but often do not). For all of us, the brain perceives things in ways it has been trained to do. How we categorize something determines what we see. The challenge is that imagination, which comes from perception, can be limited to what we already know.

Rationalize: Do you dismiss or compromise any aspect of your money story?

A repeating storyline may be as bold as always looking for the next big deal, or as quiet as habitually comparing yourself and your money to others. Or as pernicious as not being able to convert your talent into corresponding income. The internal origin of a process is elusive because an external drama always accompanies it and provides a focus. Some warning signs of this struggle include personal compromise, conflict with other people, limited success, unhappiness, or not living up to a full potential.

Recognize: Are your needs, ideals, passion, and talents all going in the same direction?

If your money story is not satisfying, or if you haven’t attained your objectives, look more closely: You are always reaching your goals, whether they are conscious or unconscious. It is helpful to know consciously and specifically what those goals are. You might be undermining your success by being imprecise in your objectives. Do you fear specifically, yet dream vaguely?

Reorganize: Do all the storylines fit and advance the plot of your money story?

Once becoming aware of actively making choices, you can decide what’s in your best interest, what furthers your story. And what doesn’t. Neuroscientist Gregory Berns examines the science of thinking differently—iconoclasts in particular—to emphasize how we need to put ourselves in new situations to see things differently and boost creativity.

When the brain encounters the unaccustomed or unexpected, perturbation occurs. The brain has to reorganize perception, which influences how we see things. We are pushed to see things in a different way—to be creative. Prompts include a novel stimulus, new information, or an unaccustomed context.

Some suggestions for creative stimulation:

* Be aware of the categories that you use for a person or idea—in order to go beyond or outside them.
* Seek out environments in which you have no experience.
* Bring together ideas from different disciplines and different perspectives to the same subject.
* Engage a Mentor or Coach to challenge new ways of looking at things.
* Follow intuition and gut feelings: write them down.
* Brainstorm and free associate: allow a stream of consciousness not bound by usual categories.