Mind patterns are thought patterns rooted in us, sometimes from childhood. They correspond both to a way of processing the information offered by reality and to the prejudices or tendencies with which we interpret the world and which tend to reinforce them.
They can also be defined as a set of beliefs on the basis of which we organize our reality. These mental structures are unconscious and normally constant over time.
A mental pattern explains, for example, why we may think that a patient and calm person is weak. Or why we may believe that someone who speaks little is less intelligent or less active than someone who talks a lot.
All this also allows us to understand the reason for being of some prejudices against certain human groups, such as women, people with a different skin color, foreigners, etc. and also on ourselves.
How mental patterns are formed
The concept of mental schema was developed above all by Jean Piaget, a very important Swiss researcher in the history of modern psychology. According to his ideas, humans are born with some kind of “base processor” in the mind. It includes the main conditioned reflexes, that is, the elementary functions that make a simple adaptation to the world possible.
As the child grows, his brain functions develop according to what the environment offers him. When he stumbles upon something new, Piaget says, a shock occurs. The subject will resolve this conflict by adding the new experience to the notions already known thus obtaining a new learning.
This process has two functions: assimilation and accommodation. It is in the accommodation phase that the mental scheme originates or is transformed. Let us try to explain it with an example. A child learns that if he pushes a door, it opens. Suddenly he meets a sliding door. He will try to push it, harder and harder, but he will find it does not open.
If he incorporates this data into previous knowledge, without further ado, he will believe that the doors with the aforementioned characteristics do not open. If someone teaches him the correct way to open it, he will learn something new; to the previous mindset, he will add a new one.
The evolution of our mental schemes
Over the course of life, mental patterns are changed as we have access to new experiences and, therefore, to new learning. However, this does not always happen, especially as we can resist having new experiences or incorporating them into our patterns.
In the physical world, there are laws that impose themselves on our beliefs. Things fall under the force of gravity and it is practically impossible to deny it. In the field of subjective facts, however, the question is more complex.
It is possible, for example, that a mother is frightened or anxious and moves whenever she sees a destitute. Your son will use this experience to shape the idea that these people are dangerous.
If this remains unchanged, that is, if it does not overcome the barrier of the mere perception of an appearance, it will probably cling to that mental pattern. The only proof the baby needs to confirm this idea is the fear of the mother.
The big problem with a mindset is that we take many “truths” for granted that are not. All of this works unconsciously, or automatically. We are not aware that we are filtering reality through the sieve offered by that pattern.
In fact, there is a strong resistance to abandoning one’s own mental schemes. Doubting what we perceive introduces a component of uncertainty (anxiety) in our consciousness: in many cases, doubting a premise also implies doubting everything we have built on it.
It is always more comfortable to cling to what is familiar, what is already known. We base our identity on it and are not willing to easily doubt what we think.
Mental patterns affect us silently: they are consistent with everything else. It is difficult to see how they act and what their consequences are.
When we modify them, they sometimes stop being consistent with other patterns. By doing so, we can feel unpleasant emotions deriving from this dissonance, which inevitably lead us to feel bad without understanding why.