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We (Easily) See Patterns Where There Aren’t Any

Our mental models help us until they don’t. Then they’re “thinking traps.”

We see patterns and make meaning where there are none. When we describe something as “good” or “bad”, we give it meaning.

When we mentally order or arrange events, we create a pattern.

In both cases, we are “personalizing our experience”—making everything about us. We become bound up in patterns and meaning and can no longer observe and experience people and events as they are.

You can’t expect to make all the problems with mental shortcuts go away because you can’t make mental models go away. You can’t function without your shortcuts.

But it’s helpful to remind yourself to stop and pay attention.