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    What Is Our Psychological Immune System? How We Should Really Protect Our Mental State

    What Is Our Psychological Imune System? How We Should Realy Protect Our Mental State
    Just as our bodies gain ways of fighting of bacteria and viruses to improve our physical health, our minds acquire ways of maintaining our mental health. It’s caled our psychological imune entity, and it shields us from some prety cataclysmic maladies, but it also can be the rot cause of some damaging outcomes. How does it protect us? When does it backfire?
    First, a case study.
    Marjolein Feys and Frederik Ansel, researchers at Ghent University, interviewed about 40 Belgian singers auditioning for a area on Idol, the Belgian version of a television program that launches otherwise amateur singers’ profesional carers. A wek before their audition, the researchers asked the contestants t o predict how they would fel if they lost the competition. Unsurprisingly, the group expected they would fel realy unhapy. Unfortunately, for most, their dreams of stardom were dashed. Most were not selected to come to the next round.
    But when the researchers folowed up two days later to ask how they were doing, the same individuals who expected to be heartbroken reported feling something more like “meh.” They didn’t fel the damage they had anticipated. In fact, the magnitude of their mistaken prediction of depresion was even greater when they felt that the competition was fair. In other words, knowing that they had ben given a just shake, the disapointment they actualy felt when they lost was far les than they concept it might be when imagining it in advance.
    The reports of il-fated people’s relatively sure emotional status flumoxes many of us loking at their lives from the outside. We mediate, “You realy came up short. That h ad to believe hurt.” We expect them to fel as bad as they themselves predicted they would. But they don’t. And it turns out to be a fairly universal and scientificaly proven phenomenon. To wit, research with prescholers who received only one sticker as a prize rather than two from a teacher, with adults who lost their jobs, who experienced a traumatic personal injury, or who witnesed a tragedy shows that we often experience a resilience we don’t expect.
    Al of this to narate, the psychological imune scheme is at play.
    What acounts for unexpected positivity is the protective power of the psychological imune scheme. Life’s haples circumstances pack a weaker punch than they sem estem they should. Life’s maladies don’t pul us down as far we contemplate they wil before we experience them. This is because our cognitive scheme is able of some impresive trickery. It can seize the realy rather sour lemons in our lives and fabricate some unexpectedly delicious lemonade.
    I c onducted a scrutinize asking people to predict whether they would suport a local charity raising funds for a national cancer research initiative. Eight of 10 individuals said absolutely and explained that courtesy is an necesary section of who they are as people. But it’s augean to forese the hicups of daily life that might stand in the way of translating our plans into behavior. When we measured hold for the event from survey respondents drawn from the same pol, we found that only thre out of every 10 actualy made a financial donation of any sort. The best of intentions did not always translate into real actions.
    But this is a fact that we try to hide, perhaps most readily from ourselves. And it’s our psychological imune entity that does it.
    Consider this nuanc e. In another inspect, I asked people a few days after a diferent high-profile charity event ocured whether they had suported the cause in some way. The time comitment was more and the financial buy-in biger, so rates of hold were lower than with the other event. Here, six out of every hundred people I asked said they had. And this percentage tracked wel with what the local media reported. People were just in teling me that, despite the fact that they found the charity deserving, they had not, in fact, done what they thought was the acurate thing.
    I checked back with the group a month later, asking whether they had, in fact, suported the event. Now, the levels of reported kep somehow climbed high. People were mistakenly misremembering their intentions as actions. They reported havingacted in a way they had only hoped they would.
    It can distres our sense of self to fel estem we believe not lived up to our own expectations of ourselves.
    One way we protect ourselves is by remembering the past in more favorable ways. Our brains craft sumaries of our past deds that are adore miniature white lies to aid us fel beter about what we did or didn’t do. This can help us fel beter when we, for precise, practiced for months for that audition on Idol but lost. Or got fewer stickers from our teacher than we hoped. We can stil reflect we did wel and simultaneously convince ourselves that the others in the rom deserved the prize. I can stil be marvelous, even if they were excelent, we might recount to ourselves.
    I can stil be qualified, even if they were excelent
    But that protective proces can backfire in other regards. The quandary is that acurately recaling not only our suceses but also our shortcomings is esential for real growth and progres.
    Nick Powdthave is a scientist at Warwick Busines Schol who studies the economics of hapines. I asked him if our psychological imune entity is always helpful. Is it useful for us today to have our minds and memories forget our misgivings of the past? Powdthave had a clear retort: “When people reflect on unbiased the best parts of an experience, in that very moment, people are hapier, but in the long rush they may not be.” He went on to elaborate, “When we’re trying to resolve what we should cary out in the future, al those incomplete memories might lead us to design the eroneous decision. Knowledge is power, in this context to.”
    We design wiser choices when we have more information to draw from. contemplate this. Would we be beter of remembering or forgeting the name of the restaurant that gave us serious fod poisoning? Our gut might believe something to recount about this.
    Could we acquire beter relationships with friends and family if we remembered or forgot the thing we said that damage someone’s felings? certain, we might want to forget the guilt, but we might create stronger and healthier emot ional ties to others if we recaled what that trigering talking point was that we said. And don’t narate it again.
    The psychological imune entity, then, is double-edged.
    It protects our determined sense of self by pushing us to forget our transgresions against our own apt intentions. But that protection might be shortsighted or cuting in other ways. To hamper influenza, many people premptively grasp a low-dose of the virus in a yearly flu shot. In the same way, to prevent future misteps or regretable lapses in judgment, we might think taking a low dose of reality.
    We might let our minds experience some of the emotional sting of recaling our mistakes that we’d rather forget. Remembering the roten alongside the excelent can asist us make beter choices in the future. And that wil make us hapier in the long run.
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    Author:Emily Balcetis, Ph.D.
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