In one of her posts, Kathy talks about the “Crap Filter” in our brains. It’s our brain’s way of helping us pay attention to the right things, so we can get through each day in one piece.
First, I like the way she describes it. It gets to the point quickly and effectively.
Second, I like her concept. It’s easy for me to understand. (I like simple words!)
She explains the crap filter like this:
Centuries ago, to keep us alive, our brains developed a Gatekeeper function that helps us focus on the things that kept us alive (food, shelter, running from tigers, etc.) It also helped us ignore mundane, trivial things that didn’t affect our survival. Essentially, the brain developed a list of things that kept us alive and it paid greatest attention to them.
Everything else had to get in line and wait. And hope to get some of our attention, eventually.
Now, thousands of years later, our brains still work the same. They tend to clear away most of the everyday things that don’t affect our survival. Our brains decide they’re not very important, so they don’t get much space in our heads.
The trouble is, the world has changed. Most of us don’t spend our days focusing just on surviving. In fact, basic survival has turned into a pretty mundane concept for most of us. So, we really don’t need the crap filter to help us with this.
Kathy goes on to say we can change this. We can actually reprogram our brains to consider other things just as important.
We do this with emotions.
If we associate something with an emotion (fear or pleasure or surprise) then it gets our brain’s attention. It gets tagged and flagged and stored at a higher priority.
One take-away I get from this is that it’s a good thing. It’s good we have crap filters because we’re subject to a lot of crap. So, even though we don’t typically face a daily threat to our survival, we do face a daily threat to our sanity.
We are blasted daily with thousands of messages and stimuli. We would literally go crazy if we had to stop, consider, process and act on every piece of information we are exposed to.
So, our brain’s crap filter still keeps us alive, just in a different way.
The second piece of wisdom I see in Kathy’s explanation of the brain’s crap filter, is that it helps us understand what we need to do to effectively deliver our messages to people.
If our brains will filter out just about everything that isn’t painful, pleasurable or surprising, then we have to play the brain’s game. We need to make sure our message fits within these parameters.