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  • Imagine a microscopic-sized ladder contained in the part of our brain that we'll label our subconscious.

  • The ladder of inference, which was first proposed by Harvard professor Chris Argyris,

  • is the basis of this model.

  • Every time we interact with someone,

  • that experience enters the ladder at the bottom.

  • That same experience zips up the ladder in the blink of an eye,

  • exiting at the top.

  • This process happens thousands of times a day without us knowing it.

  • Let's focus on what happens on each rung of the ladder.

  • On the first rung, we have the raw data and observations of our experience.

  • This is very similar to what someone watching a video recording of our experience would see.

  • Moving up to the second rung

  • we filter in specific information and details from our experience.

  • We unknowingly filter based on our preferences, tendencies,

  • and many other aspects that we believe are important.

  • On to the third rung.

  • We assign meaning to the information we have filtered through.

  • This is where we start to interpret what our information is telling us.

  • On our fourth rung, a very crucial thing happens.

  • We develop assumptions based on the meaning we created on the previous rung,

  • and we start to blur the distinction between what is fact and what is story.

  • On the fifth rung, we develop conclusions based on our assumptions.

  • This is also where our emotional reactions are created.

  • On the sixth rung, we adjust our beliefs about the world around us,

  • including the person or people involved in our experience of the moment.

  • On the seventh and final rung,

  • we take action based on our adjusted beliefs.

  • Still with me? Great!

  • Let's take a real-life example and run it up the ladder to see how this all works.

  • Have you ever been cut off in a parking lot, signal light on

  • as you steer toward your coveted spot, only to slam on your brakes at the last minute

  • as someone pulls in front of you and steals your spot away?

  • Imagine that experience and notice all of the data and observations landing on the first rung of your ladder.

  • Now let's watch what we pay attention to on the second rung.

  • Who cares that it's sunny out and the birds are chirping?

  • The 50% off sign outside of your favorite store is meaningless.

  • You filter in the sensation of your grip tightening on the wheel,

  • you feel your blood pressure rise,

  • you hear the squeal of your brakes,

  • and you notice the expression on the face of the other driver as he pulls in front of you and quickly looks away.

  • Time for our third rung.

  • Ever since you were young, your parents taught you the importance of waiting in line and taking your turn.

  • You live and die by the rule of first come, first serve.

  • And now this guy has just stolen your spot. What gives?

  • Up to the fourth rung we go.

  • Watch closely as our assumptions take over and our story creates itself.

  • "That stupid jerk, didn't his parents teach him anything?

  • How could he not see my signal light? He must never pay attention!

  • Why does he think he's more important than anyone else?"

  • Jumping quickly to the fifth rung,

  • we conclude that this guy is heartless, inconsiderate, he needs to be taught a lesson and put in his place.

  • We feel angry, frustrated, vindictive, justified.

  • On our sixth rung, we adjust our beliefs based on the experience.

  • "That's the last time I give in! Next time someone tries to cut me off,

  • tires will be smoking on the pavement as I squeal past them into my spot."

  • And finally our last rung: we take action.

  • We back up, pull up behind his car, honk our horn, and roll down our window to scream a few choice words his way.

  • Now imagine, he walks over quickly, apologizing.

  • His wife, who's almost due with their first baby, called him from inside the mall

  • to say she is in labor and needs to get to the hospital immediately.

  • We're momentarily shocked, apologize profusely, and wish him luck as he rushes toward the entrance.

  • What just happened here? What changed? Why is this so significant?

  • In our parking lot example,

  • our beliefs were short-circuited by the ladder of the other individual.

  • "My wife is in labor, I need to get there quick,

  • there's a parking spot. Whew!

  • Oh, jeez, I cut someone off. I'd better apologize quickly so they don't think I'm a jerk."

  • But what if we were able to short-circuit our ladders ourselves?

  • Proactively, by choice?

  • Guess what? We can!

  • Let's return to our unique human function of free will.

  • Next time you notice yourself reacting to your experience,

  • pay focused attention to your ladder.

  • Ask yourself what beliefs are at play, where do they come from.

  • What data and observations did you filter in as a result of your beliefs, and why?

  • Are your assumptions valid and supported by facts?

  • Would a different set of assumptions create different feelings, and result in new and better conclusions and actions?

  • We all have our own unique ladder.

  • Be mindful of yours, and help others to see theirs.

Imagine a microscopic-sized ladder contained in the part of our brain that we'll label our subconscious.

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B1 US TED-Ed rung ladder experience filter parking

【TED-Ed】Rethinking thinking - Trevor Maber

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    Why Why posted on 2016/01/11
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