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These two perspectives of time could forever change how you deal with it

If a Wednesday meeting has been postponed for two days, when is it? The answer may seem obvious, but it isn’t. Both “Monday” and “Friday” are the correct answers. This is not a trick question or even philosophical food for thought. This simple query shows the gap in the way people view time. These are the two main perspectives:

  • If your answer was “Monday,” then cognitive and linguistic research suggests you have one time moving perspective. This point of view conceptualizes you in the present moment as stationary Object towards you over time as if it were a piece of chocolate on a conveyor belt.
  • If “Friday”
    ; was your instinctive answer, it suggests you did ego-moving perspective. From this point of view, you (the respondent) see yourself as To move towards events in the future.

This grouping of “two kinds of people” blew TikTok in June when Gregory Brown made a 48-second video about the phenomenon on AsapSCIENCE. Of course, the discourse went to Twitter and aroused interest in a cognitive science concept that has been widespread in psychological and linguistic circles for almost two decades.

If you are still confused, you are not alone. Natalie Jeung, a licensed professional counselor at Skylight Counseling in Chicago, made it easy for us: “When you talk about the ego-moving perspective, it feels like there is more sense of control or agency in your life in your being do, ”says Jeung. “Ego in the world of psychology means self-awareness. This is what helps mediate between the judgmental thoughts that you have.

In the context of the pandemic, for example, Jeung says that a person with an ego-moving point of view could steer fear of the coronavirus into something more productive. “There are tasks and goals I can complete on the way to ending the pandemic. “You would consider the time we spent together affected by the virus as a physical tunnel through which we have to move.

In contrast, someone with a time-moving perspective might try to gain a greater sense of acceptance. “I’ll only adjust the things that I can’t control.” They implicitly see this time as something mobile, like an approaching car coming towards them, and could work on tolerating discomfort or practicing radical acceptance until it appears.

Although it was made popular back in 2017 (via The Cut), popular media coverage has largely reduced the perception of time to “Look! That’s one thing! “And for good reason: while many psychological and cognitive science researchers have studied the phenomenon further, few clinical investigations have been conducted into how this relates to major mental health problems and personal coping skills.

However, there is some research. Experimental psychology researchers Albert Lee and Li-Jun Li have identified some reasons for how temporal perception affects the perception of past events, and related their findings to possible clinical applications for mood disorders.

They believe it has the potential to help people manage the psychological distance between themselves and unpleasant events. In 2014 they published their findings on memory and looking to the future.

They found that people who remember negative or uncomfortable experiences are more likely to take an ego-moving perspective. Conversely, when they were prepared to remember a pleasant event, they tended to take a time-shifting perspective. However, looking ahead, Lee and Li found that the opposite was the case.

Anticipating something pleasant in the future evoked the ego-moving perspective, while imagining something uncomfortable triggered the time-moving perspective. This could mean that if you’re dreading meetings, you might be more likely to react with the time-shifted perspective, believing that the Wednesday meeting has been postponed to Monday.

It could help with rumination

Based on their findings, Lee and Li theorized that if people with depression could learn to adopt an ego-moving perspective, they could potentially ruminate, a common symptom and thought pattern in depression.

“In essence, the result suggests that the experience of time is flexible and our minds are able to soften the psychological distance between us and temporal events (e.g. a haunting event in the past) as if it were they objects in physical space (e.g., we “run” away from it or “leave it behind”), says Lee Greatist via email.

For a clinical theory, Lee explains, an active, agency-filled, ego-moving perspective could make someone feel “comparatively better” than the time-moving perspective, “time is ticking and I’m just sitting by”.

Ultimately, however, their research failed to draw any concrete conclusions. And 6 years later, not much else was answered. No clinical studies have been done on the application of temporal perception to clinical mental health, he says. And without empirical evidence, it is premature to draw conclusions about how to deal with stress or how to mitigate mental illness symptoms.

Dr. Rachel A. Ross, a Boston psychiatrist who specializes in anxiety and eating disorders, agrees with this qualification. “There is a connection between our self-image in the world and space. There is no correlate to how we see each other in time, ”she says. “I think that’s really interesting, but I can’t imagine how you would ask the question in order to study it.”

Although Ross is not formally incorporated as concepts for mental health management, he sees that the perspective between ego movement and time movement fits right into the wheelhouse of CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy, albeit in an indirect way.

“It is entirely possible to use cognitive awareness for your perspective and be flexible about it, but it is not easy,” she says. The more you practice a particular mindset, the easier it becomes and therapy can help. “CBT is just that. When you are motivated to become aware of a particular habitual type of behavior or cognitive response, you can practice changing that response. “

When people engaging in CBT understand the relationships between behaviors, thoughts, and situations, they can become aware of a habitual response regardless of how they feel or how they act in a particular stressful situation. If they want to change that, CBT can help them think about why they are acting this way and develop more effective ways of responding.

For example, if the thought “I never get anything done on time” comes up a lot, an alternative explanation, including a predisposition to the ego or time-moving perspective, may be helpful. “It gives you an opportunity to beat yourself up a little less,” says Ross.

For the therapist Natalie Jeung, it makes perfect sense to integrate the distinction between ego and time-moving perspectives into a practical approach to coping.

In extreme cases, an ego-moving mindset could lead people to seek unrealistic control over everything in life. While an extremely time-consuming mindset can lead to a feeling of complete helplessness – “as if you were just a bystander in life”.

For this reason, practicing flexibility is, above all, an important skill, regardless of what attitude a person is predisposed to.

“We’re looking for that spectrum where you can move fluidly between the two perspectives, where you can accept things that are beyond your control, but you will feel like you can control other things,” says Jeung.

But having an internal sense of control or agency over one’s life doesn’t have to be all or nothing. People are not permanently trapped in the perception of time, although they may have a tendency to look at the world in one way or another.

According to Jeung, this is where framing comes into play during therapy. By formulating or reformulating longstanding thoughts and beliefs, customers can look at and internalize different perspectives. “Switching from a more negative to a more positive tone can be helpful even if the overall message is exactly the same,” she says.

She gives an example of a general feeling, “I’m making a mistake that people will see, which means I’m bad at my job.” In a positive context, a customer might think instead, “I made a mistake and they did People may have seen it, but I learned from it. ”In both cases the information is the same – I made a mistake and others know it – but there is a beneficial shift in perspective.

While it remains to be seen how much temporal perception could affect our ability to deal with stress and the insecurities of life, both Ross and Jeung have made it clear that the already proven benefits of CBT are available. “The reality is that we have some freedom of choice about what we can do to feel better about our lives,” says Jeung. Regardless of your initial outlook on the future, there is still room for growth and change.

Patricia Kelly Yeo is a freelance health, food and culture writer and journalist. She lives in Los Angeles. Most of the time, find them professional on Twitter.

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