More Than Just ‘I’, Meta- Knowledge

Put your ego aside. You must kill your ego. Or, as Beyonce sings, “You’ve got such a big ego.”

So many people are telling you what to do with this part of you, not many quite grasp what an ego really is. In most cases, the ego catches a bad rep. It’s synonymous with someone who’s self-absorbed or very defensive. Why should we let someone tell us what to do with something that most hardly know the truth about.

Silliness.

I want to take this moment to not only tell you what your ego is, but also how it’s developed and it’s proactive uses in the grand scheme of your life. It’s a lot like nuclear power. It can be used to power great things in your life, or it’s failure can cause toxicity that pollutes you almost to the very core. This one piece of your psych has the ability to be your greatest asset or your greatest hindrance.

What is the ego?

Freud says that it’s what interprets and balances the basic instinctual drives of your id and the ever critical conscience of your super ego. Deepak Chopra tells us it is the self-image, or the ‘not true’ self. Webster defines it as ‘the self especially contrasted to another self or world’.

All of these imply that the ego is a construct of your mind. A filter of your beliefs, values, and ideas. The collection of ‘I’ statements that stream through your thoughts. The ego, though, transcends thoughts and also moves into what are affectionately named ego-states. I’ll talk a little bit about those in one minute, though.

To put all of this simply it’s a template that consists of your self-image and states of consciousness and it’s interaction with the environment.

Why is to know all this important? Becoming aware of the ego in general and your particular ego gives you metacognitive knowledge or knowledge of how you operate as a thinker. Now I’m going to go deeper into the metaknowledge by explaining the developmental stages of the ego.

Jane Loevinger proposes 9 different stages of ego development. They are based on the works of Erik Erikson and Henry Stack Sullivan. The ego was theorized to mature and evolve through the stages across the lifespan as result of a dynamic interaction between the inner self and the outer environment. Here are the stages at a brief glance.

Stage 1- The Pre Social Stage

All humans start off at this stage. When a baby is born, it is egoless. An infant can not differentiate itself from the world. It’s thinking is essentially delusional. The infant quickly moves to the symbiotic stage as it begins to develop recognition for objects. They tend to be very attached to the caregiver, suggesting a unity in cognition and emotions.

Stage 2- The Impulsive Stage

The child moves from egoless to egocentric. They are completely present to the moment and preoccupied with their impulses. When their needs are or aren’t met, the child responds with an impulsive retaliation. The childs needs and feelings are experienced in the senses.

Stage 3- The Self Protective Stage

In this stage, a lotus of control begins to emerge, although it is primarily external (blaming others). This stage is represents the first step towards impulse control. The child becomes in need of a strict unchanging set of rules to develop. If an older child or adult remains in this stage, they can become opportunistic, control oriented, and manipulative. Although the basis of conceptual knowledge begins to develop, morality is mainly regarded as ‘If you can’t be good, be good at it.’ or ‘Don’t get caught’. It is based on a system of punishments and rewards.

Stage 4- Conformist Stage

The individual becomes part of a group. Loevinger classified this stage as having the greatest cognitive simplicity. This is because the group clearly defines what is right and wrong, therefor the individual has no need to concern themselves with greater moral implications. The individual is concerned mostly what the group thinks about them what the group believes is the individuals place is. They become very invested in the groups interests. Many adults stay at this stage of development.

Stage 5- Self- Aware Stage

This stage is largely identified by the individuals ability to consider multiple possibilities in a situation and an increased awareness. They begin to see the difference in what the group think is right and what they think is right. This conflict creates a greater sense of inner conflict. Because the individual begins to consider different possibilities and a lower perspective, their interest in interpersonal relations increases.

Stage 6- The Conscientious Stage

In the conscientious stage, one’s locus of control begin to moves inward. The individual begins random psychological development through self-evaluation and self-criticism. They begin to feel shame for breaking a personal code of conduct rather than feel shame through breaking social norms. Beginning to understand the depth and complexities of themselves leads to a greater empathy of others.

Stage 7- The Individualistic Stage

A broader appreciation for individuality and interpersonal ties develops. They begin to show a broad minded tolerance and acceptance for the autonomy of their self and others. They begin to distance themselves from identities and replace moralism with an awareness of inner conflicts and personal paradoxes.

Stage 8- The Autonomous Stage

They begin to respect others need for autonomy in clear terms. They cultivate a higher tolerance for ambiguity. Interdependent systems are more valued than independent systems. The stage might also see a ‘confrontation with the limitations of abilities and roles as part of deepening self-acceptance’.

Stage 9- The Integrated Stage

The ego begins to not only have a higher tolerance for inner conflicts but is also able to reconcile and make peace with unsolvable issues. It’s noted by it’s self-actualized nature and a reconciliation of one’s destiny.Learning is understood as unavoidable.

 

These stages signify a movement to a higher conscious.

Here’s a quick video on the criteria for a healthy functioning ego.

 

Here you have the metaknowledge side of yourself. It’s up to you to decide where, who, and what you are.

Stay tuned for the second part of this article. I will discuss how your ego ties into metaexperience and touch a little bit on how you can gain the most and grow the most. I will feature a video from one of my personal favorite Self Actualization teachers.

As always, feedback is welcome and appreciated.

 

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Resonating with Dissonance

Have you ever felt off or stressed for no apparent reason? How about like you weren’t living up to your potential?

Maybe, you used to have a drive to be great, but decided living in mediocrity suited your personality better.

That feeling of a mental stress or emotional discomfort because you aren’t being consistent with yourself is called Cognitive Dissonance. The exact definition of dissonance is a lack of harmony. If you resonated with someone, you would be in harmony with them.

Now, on to the more serious stuff…

 

When your behavior doesn’t match a value or belief you have, you feel cognitive dissonance. You change yourself, either in attitudes or behaviors, to become harmonious once again. I like to think that a great deal of this is conscious. It’s just that sometimes, you can rationalize and change in a subtle way. Your unconscious can analyze and make a decision so quickly, it’ll make you question what you really want out of life.

 

To make you aware of a few relationships between cognitions, I’ll give you some examples.

Consonant relationship – Two cognitions/actions that are consistent with one another (Ex: Not wanting to get intoxicated while out, then ordering water instead of alcohol)
Irrelevant relationship – Two cognitions/actions that are unrelated to one another (Ex: Not wanting to get intoxicated while out, then tying your shoes)
Dissonant relationship – Two cognitions/actions that are inconsistent with one another (Ex: Not wanting to get intoxicated while out, then consuming six tequila shots)

When you feel a negative way or stressed because you feel out of alignment become aware that it is a dissonant relationship. A great tool to figure out the relationship is to simply ask ‘Why?’. You’d be surprised at the answers you produce. When you find the true ‘Why’, you can begin to find answers.

Check this video out to go deeper into Cognitive Dissonance.

 

There are some ways that your manipulate beliefs to get back to harmony. Take advantage of the emotions being brought up and commit yourself to a positive form of action. A little action can go a long way.

In my next article, I’ll talk a little a bit about how your ego is controlling your learning curve and how it weaves itself into metacognitive experience and metacognitive knowledge.

 

As always, feedback is welcomed and appreciated!

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Moving Past Who You Are

From the time you are about 3 years old, you start discovering your identity. A whole new world of exploration begins very early. You discover you can have opinions, you discover the power of ‘no’, and you even begin to find out what you like. Then you grow up and begin to develop into your own even more. As a late teenager, your sense of identity seems to of solidified. You seem to know what is you. You know what isn’t you. You know what you can do and you know what you can’t do.

But, what if I told you that most peoples’ sense of who they are is holding them back. In no way am I implying that somebody knowing who they are is a negative thing. Rather, what I’m suggesting is that many people don’t fulfill they’re greatest potential because they don’t identify themselves as the person they are carving themselves out to be.

When faced with a challenge of creativity, some claim they just aren’t artsy. When workers are given more responsibility, some claim they just aren’t ‘management material’. Sometimes, all it takes is for someone to think of changing themselves to be thrown into turmoil. In other cases, people try and give up because they are unable to see themselves as that person they could be or simply because ‘it’s just not them’. The energy and effort was there, but never real.

When things are too hard, some people just give up. They see themselves as somebody who has difficulty due to lack of ability rather than somebody who perceives difficulty because of lack of familiarity. Through the role of metacognitive experience, anybody can move past who they are and focus on who they are becoming. It’s a technique of gauging the amount of effort and realizing what that effort demands.

Metacognitive experience takes a step beyond conventional experience by examining what conventional experience entails. When someone becomes experienced in something they gain feelings of familiarity and are able to move beyond feelings of difficulty. When something is familiar, and that person is able to become comfortable with difficulty, they are able to identify themselves as someone who is able to do.

So how can you take the metacognitive approach to experience?

The first you must be aware of your emotional patterns during a learning experience. In any new venture, they tend to fluctuate. When I first began flying planes, my emotions were all over the spectrum. I remember scaring myself so much, I actually let the thought of ‘Maybe, flying planes isn’t for me’ run through my skull. This instance was different than the typical identity preserving doubt, though. We went to practice what are called stalls and I ended up in a spin. We lost about a thousand feet of altitude. It was more about life preservation. But, as I began to practice and allow myself to experience, my emotions began to become less volatile and moved towards a steady confidence.

What does this mean? This means that my emotions were just indications of how effectively I was task processing. You feel fear and underconfidence not to declare resignation, but to show you that you aren’t reaching the desired effect. In most cases, these emotional and judgmental processes are non-analytical and unconscious. This is especially so when there’s uncertainty, pressure, and a time constraint.

The remedy to all this is to become aware, conscious, and analytical. This can seem a bit impossible at first. The heat of the being in a process that demands complete engaging attention makes stepping back and examining things a bit unreasonable. Have no doubt that self-monitoring is 100% possible and practical.

In my first few hours of flying, I would always focus on the task critical procedures and the relevant information. Luckily, the FAA requires you to go through a ground school to learn the procedures of flying a plane before you can actually fly one. And, they require a written knowledge test before hand, too. I was very aware of what needed to be done. Having knowledge of flying a plane, and actual responses may vary, though. As illustrated in my anecdotal example.

What I chose to focus on was becoming aware of my unconscious judgement and action, so I could try to adjust to fit the correct procedures. Due to my awareness of incompetence, I was able to judge the difficulty or amount of conflicting responses or interruptions of processing and gradually reduce it to manageable reorganizations of response. This allowed me to pursue effort in a mindful way.

Using strategies of metacognitive experience, I was able to quickly readjust my responses and practice the correct procedures. How did I know the procedures were correct? Well, every time I practice stalls, the plane doesn’t go into a downward spiral. I’d say that’s a fairly good indication.

This success allowed me to identify myself as a person that can fly planes. It’s now a part of who I am. By taking the metacognitive experience approach, you’ll never have to challenge your sense of identity again. You’re only option will be to improve your identity and create even more of yourself.

 

So here’s a quick recap:

-Be emotionally aware. Your emotions are indicators, not decisions.

-Have an idea of the correct principles/procedures so you have a target.

Be mindful of your responses/actions so you can effectively monitor them.

– There is no difficulty, just an amount of effort needed to decrease conflicting responses and interruptions of correct processing.

– Know when you’ve reached the correct procedures, so you can advance.

 

 

Thanks so much for reading. And, as always, feedback is encouraged and appreciated.

Distractions Dissarrnged

In today’s instant gratification world, attention and awareness are constantly being split. It’s gotten to the point where almost everybody has the attention span of a small child.

With a weak attention span and knowledge of how to focus, distractions can quickly run anybody’s life. There are exceptions to the rule, though. For example, when someone has a complete passion for what they’re doing, time seems almost irrelevant.

So what is a distraction?

Basically, it’s separation in one’s focus. In most cases, they come in the form of events in the surrounding environment or a loss of being present in action.

These wedges that split attention are culprits that steal your awareness and put it on something else. Humans have a one track mind. We are most effective when we are focused on one thing at a time.

In today’s video I talk a little bit about the ‘value’ that steals our awareness and the governing system in our brain that directs our selective focus.

So just a quick recap:

It’s our value system that dictates our train of thought and emotions; which, in turn, directs our focus.

Learning to shift and hold our awareness over time is what helps us eliminate that which distracts us.

Self-observation and self-regulation are the catalysts for taking control of our awareness.

Distractions are completely in our control. Our environment may be objective, but our interpretations of the external stimuli and emotions are completely subjective.

Making your actions more engaging to yourself will bring presence back into what you’re doing.

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What Is Meta-Cognition?

Most of us have heard of cognition, or how we think. But, did you know there’s a step beyond cognition? It’s called meta-cognition. Meta-cognition is a higher order of thought that means thinking about how we think. Then of course there’s thinking about thinking about the way you think, but that’s getting a little redundant and murky.

 

So, what is the purpose of meta-cognition? It’s meant to self-regulate or trouble shoot the thinking and learning process. Could you imagine having a ‘toolkit’ to use for whenever you were having trouble with problem solving? It’s a daunting idea that could help any student learn to tap into their greater potential.

 

There are three main-components of meta-cognition. These classifications are meta-cognitive knowledge, meta-cognitive regulation, and meta-cognitive experience. Each of these categories may sound like advanced scientific jargon, but I promise you, it’s much simpler than it sounds.

– Meta-cognitive knowledge is having an awareness as an individual and as a human thinker.

– Meta-cognitive regulation is how we order and regulate a set of learning processes and experiences.

– Meta-cognitive experience are simply experiences that relate to the active-learning process.

 

Meta-cognitive knowledge and meta-cognitive regulation can be broken down into more sub-parts, but I’ll spare you for sake of just keeping this as just a brief overview of the amazing thing that is meta-cognition.

 

The purpose is to put the learner on a level that allows active control of the process. Meta-learners figure out what they know, what they don’t know, and what they need to know. They set their plans of action, monitor their progress and comprehension, and evaluate their proximity to completion.

 

Meta-learners equip themselves with the tools that can compensate for IQ. H.L. Swanson, a Professor of Education from The University of California in Riverside, found that students with higher meta-cognitive skills actually performed better than students with a lower meta-cognitive skill set, despite IQ. Similar to the tale of David taking on Goliath. Goliath was larger and stronger, but David had an advantage with his sling and stone.

 

The best thing about meta-cognitive abilities is that they aren’t subject specific. So what would work for learning to play the guitar will work for a math problem. The only catch is that the skills and strategies are best internalized through learning a skill.

 

There’s a fine irony for you.