Vision: Zooming In and Out on Reality


The human brain is set up to apprehend a physical world. Our senses measure distance and pressure. Yet when it comes to the mind apprehending itself, many can feel rather lost. Personally, I find visualization helpful. Every thought is a physical entity that I either move towards and build up or move away from and let crumble and decay. My mental world is as physical and weighty to me as that I experience with my other senses.

With this view, I can either zoom in or zoom out on different facets of reality. I can distance myself to grasp a larger view and temper my emotions or I can zoom in and submerge myself in a powerful experience. This way, being rational and being emotional are not separate ways of being but rather two sides of the same coin that is my complete and total experience. They are two extremes along the same axis.

When a person is too far along the zoomed out part of the axis they are considered either psychopathic or sociopathic. When they are too far in the zoomed in direction they can be considered schizophrenic or bipolar (which I have). It is apparent then, that balance somewhere in the middle is best. I’ll talk more about my idea of balance in the middle another day but I will at least say that’s a flexible assurance instead of a rigid one.

For each item of reality-whether an object, a person, or a topic-we can choose the distance from which we view it. We gain objectivity by scaling back to a rational distance and subjectivity by dialing up to a closer place. Closer ideas are larger in our minds, tend to have a strong emotional component, and can subsume our sense of who we are. Ideas that are further away are smaller, tend to have a strong logical component, and can give us a bigger sense of the world.

This may not work for everyone (due to neurodiversity-the natural differences in the way minds operate) but it helps me maintain control when my mania or depression slip toward the dark side. It reminds me that I can choose my mental distance and find a more appropriate level when I encounter the world. It lets me focus on finding a more useful point of view and sometimes even planning a better way forward.

What mental models are useful to you? What helps you to improve your decision-making or your empathy? What ideas are harder to distance yourself from and which do you need to zoom in on?

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