Handling Inconsistencies

Note to my future self..

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we handle inconsistencies in our lives. Should we strive to live in a world that makes perfect sense? Should we actively try to resolve these inconsistencies? What should we do when we realize that we believe contradictory beliefs?

These are all hard questions to which I honestly have no answers. However, I’ve realized a couple of things that are worth noting. First of all, in my own experience it’s virtually impossible to have a completely consistent view of the world. That makes no sense. Not only is it practically impossible but it’s probably something that we shouldn’t strive for. If our world views are consistent that means that they’re probably fixed, which implies that we’re not growing as human beings. Therefore, being able to handle inconsistencies in our world view is a key part of growing as individuals.

Now, how do you deal with these inconsistencies in real life? From psychology we know that people need a relatively consistent model for knowing how the world works. Otherwise it would be chaos. For example, we expect the sun to come up every day, we expect gravity to act in a certain way over objects, etc. This physical consistency allows our brain to process information accordingly and make decisions more quickly. For example, a pitcher expects a certain consistency in his world (i.e. how wind affects balls, gravity, depth perception, etc.) and he uses that model to figure out how to through a fastball vs curveball. This is an example of physical consistency but the same probably applies for higher-order models like social interactions and cognitive processes.

Now how do we deal with inconsistencies? First, I think it’s by ignoring a lot of shit or simply not making the connection between inconsistencies. I need to read more on this subject but I think the brain must have some sort of defense mechanism to ignore any non-threatening inconsistency that we come across in life.

Why should we care? I think that’s important to think about how we deal with inconsistencies so that we don’t make a decision too quickly. For example, one of the “inconsistencies” I have dealt with lately is this idea of being competitive AND developing fostering win-win relationships. On the one hand, competition pushes us to be the best version of ourselves. On the other hand, win-win relationships expand the pie for everybody. How do you deal with this contradiction? Well there’s a lot of nuance to this specific point but tl;dr these are perfect compliments. Once I came across the idea of positive-sum games and the idea that pies can grow I started to reconcile both of these inconsistencies. However, if I had just made an impulse decision in my mind that the world works one way or the other I wouldn’t missed out on this opportunity to reconcile both ideas.

This is a convoluted post but I hope some of it makes sense.

Now back to work..