TED Conversations

Vera Nova

Director Research Analysis, NOVA Town Futuristic Development


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"How seriously does our ability to imagine others in our minds impact our understanding of others in real life?"

We have natural internal abilities to act as a few personalities within our minds. This intuitive acting ability helps us understand others, as well as situations where others are involved.

The more closely we manage to play other characters in our mind the greater we may understand others.
I believe that eventually each of us develops one dominating/leading character, therefore, we identify this character as our own Self. The rest of imaginable characters commonly play only "supportive" roles on the stage of one's personal reality.

When we need to improve ourselves, we are able to find/create not only a new role to play in mind but also to find the way to express in our new actions.

We begin to imitate our parents, cats and dogs, aircrafts and trains in our very early childhood. As adults we laugh at this kind of early stage of acting, but our minds keep acting to the rest of our life. Without internal acting our minds cannot produce any thought.

This amazing instinctive talent, I think, may be developed if we could have learned to explore this talent more consciously in thinking, researching and communicating.

JONAS SALK has described how he conducted his important research by behaving himself as living cells.
He also said:

The art of science is as important as so-called technical science. You need both. It's this combination that must be recognized and acknowledged and valued. ..You can have a team of unconventional thinkers, as well as conventional thinkers. If you don't have the support of others you cannot achieve anything altogether on your own. It's like a cry in the wilderness. In each instance there were others who could see the same thing, and there were others who could not. It's an obvious difference we see in those who you might say have a bird's eye view, and those who have a worm's eye view. I've come to realize that we all have a different mind set, we all see things differently...


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    Jan 11 2014: Hi Vera and thanks for the heads up on the conversation:>)

    I believe our ability to imagine others in our minds (or not) has a HUGE impact regarding our understanding of others in real life. Trying to understand others to the best of our ability.....walking in another person's shoes so to speak....is a foundation for compassion.

    I agree with you that we have different personas/characteristics/archetypes which we can draw on in different situations to help us learn and understand something/someone that may not be part of our regular life experiences. I also agree that the more we are aware of these other characteristics, the greater the chance to understand others, and I believe that eventually each of us develops one dominating/leading character, identifying this character as our own "Self".

    The rest of the characteristics often are "supportive" roles in one's personality, as you say, and the sad part, is that if one does not recognize all the characteristics as part of "self", one will often say....that is not part of me....I don't know where THAT behavior or action came from.....that's not me!!!

    I observe people saying that what they determine to be the "good" characteristics are the "authentic" self, and all the other characteristics that they don't like are not "authentic". In my perception, all of the personas/characteristics/archetypes ARE part of our "self", and when we recognize that, we have more of an opportunity to connect compassionately with others.
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      Jan 11 2014: Colleen, I often feel that you put some of my thoughts together, much better than I could...
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      Jan 15 2014: Colleen, it is admirable the way you re-play someone's thoughts, so closely, but you always keep your own ideas "safe" - you do not lose them while imagining what others feel .
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        Jan 15 2014: Thanks Vera,
        What do you mean by keeping my own ideas "safe"?
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          Jan 15 2014: Many people who've made up their minds forever do not want to bother to change their opinion, for the reason - If they get too involved in understanding others they might be confused and uncomfortable.

          I know some scholars who are very opinionated.. for the same reason. But we cannot learn if we do not understand others, we cannot help them and help ourselves. If we are comfortable with our ideas while understanding others, this means we have great ideas (safe" ideas).
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        Jan 15 2014: Oh....I see what you mean Vera. I think you are suggesting that it is good to be open minded? Open hearted? Willing to listen to, and embrace new thoughts, feelings, ideas?

        I agree that sometimes people don't want to look at new ideas, because they may feel confused or uncomfortable. That tells me that they may be so "attached" to an idea/belief that they totally identify with it, and may be afraid to open up to something more.....it's a choice. Listening to, and evaluating information does not mean that we have to accept everything we hear....it simply means that we are open to listening and filtering through the information to see what feels "right", or "truth" to us.

        For example, the interactions with people labeled with downs syndrome, that Martin and I mentioned in other comments on this thread.....
        We can go into those interactions thinking/feeling that a downs syndrome person is disabled and will not be able to give me anything.....I will be helping him/her.

        Or, we can go into the interactions with open mind and heart, believing that it is an exchange of thoughts, feelings, and ideas, and we can learn what they can give to us. So, it becomes an interaction in which all participants can be the teacher AND the student, and all participants gain something from the experience:>)

        I LOVE being comfortable with the ideas that I have now, and I'm open to more exploration, because that is how I perceive life.....an adventurous exploration. Being comfortable with our own thoughts feelings and ideas WHILE genuinely listening to, and supporting other's thoughts, feelings and ideas (when they make a little bit of sense to us), creates more acceptance, contentment and comfort in our world:>)

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