Getting to Grips with Internal Representation and Resilient Thinking [Part 2]

internal representation

Getting to Grips with Internal Representation and Resilient Thinking [Part 2]

In the last article you read about resilient thinking, or at least an introduction to the concept and how it can assist you in becoming more adaptable and tough against the challenges you face as a teenager.

To recap super quick, you take in a rate of 2-4 million bits of information every single second of your waking hours. This is massive, who needs a computer with that kind of capability? It’s pretty impressive and so is your mind because it deals with this information in a very sophisticated way … a way that you are not consciously aware of and this is where is gets interesting.


Understanding the difference between your two minds

It is your subconscious mind that deals with the 2-4 million bits of information first. The vast majority of it, as you will be starting to realise, never reaches your conscious mind.

You might be familiar with this but if not, let me explain the concept of your two minds.

  1. Your conscious rational mind thinks logically. It likes to think that it’s in control when in fact…
  2. Your unconscious (or subconscious) mind is the most powerful part of you and is the one that’s in control.

Your unconscious mind is phenomenal and scientists say that only ten percent of your brain is used. That ten percent is used by your thinking, logical, conscious brain, but your unconscious mind, in my belief, handles the other ninety percent and this processing of information happens without you being aware of it.

This is the part of you that is so powerful that you don’t have to stop and think every time you want to breathe, it keeps your lungs breathing, it keeps your digestive system digesting, your kidneys filtering and your spleen spleening! It never sleeps.

Your conscious mind needs to switch off to rest and recuperate. This is logical and is why you need sleep and why stressful events can eventually take their toll on your body and mind. Too much of this can lead to problems associated with teen depression. But while your conscious mind is resting, your unconscious mind is healing your body, it’s processing the day’s information, embedding your learning and working stuff out so that when you wake up in the morning you have those realisation moments like ‘ooh I’ve got the answer to that problem I didn’t know I had’. Your unconscious mind, amongst other jobs, is to keep you safe.


Delete, distort and generalise

We’ve established that your subconscious mind filters through the 2-4 millions bits of data every day. It also filters through your memories, your experiences, your beliefs, the culture you grew up in, your values, your standards, and your perception of time, space and matter. What also happens within this powerful mind is a continual process of ‘delete, distort and generalise’ with the information presented.

Picture yourself scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram feed. You don’t have to see much of a photo or video to choose whether to scroll past the post, read it or click on it to find out more. Well, a similar process takes place with your subconscious mind but you simply aren’t aware that it’s happening.

Furthermore, when did you last feel your big toe? It’s always there but it’s only when you have your conscious mind drawn to think or look at or feel your big toe that you realise it’s there. This is because your subconscious mind has chosen to delete the feelings of your big toe from your conscious mind because there’s something more important to focus on – like a Facebook video for example.

When information is distorted you tend to make a mountain out of a molehill and become a drama king or queen. Situations become a big deal when they really shouldn’t because you overthink them, draw from a past experience that might not have gone so well, or worry about a future outcome that may never occur.

Similarly, distorted information can make things seem far more insignificant than they should – a compliment for example that you shrug off because your internal dialogue and self-doubt doesn’t quite believe it.

What can be even worse still, is to generalise information by making it a ‘big picture’ and removing the detail. How many times have you said ‘everybody always says that?’  Or ‘everybody always does that?’

Who is everybody? How many are there? Name them! When is always? If you put the detail back in we can consider the information on an individual level, but it will take longer and that’s why it’s often stripped out. You just don’t have the time to process everything on that conscious level.

Oh my gosh, your unconscious mind is so incredibly powerful that you just reduced 2-4 million bits per second down to 134 bits of information every second. How amazing are you? Infinitely more powerful than you ever knew!


“Just sitting here on the corner of awesome and bombdiggity.”


Take control of your mind by understanding how it works

Your unique filters that give meaning to a situation

Now we get down to the 134 bits of information it’s more manageable and you are able add a meaning to it. You are able to add some context to the situation and interpret what’s happening outside within your mind. But be aware that before you understand the meaning you are giving to the situation, it will need to pass through your unique set of filters. What happens here is that these filters take an internal representation of the external facts and ‘re-present’ the information as your internal meaning. This is known as your IR – ‘internal representation’ or ‘re-presentation’. But here lies another stumbling block because everyone has different filters.

The same situation can look very different in the eyes of two people and it is here that emotions can cause real problems. You’ve probably felt nervous in a situation where your friends have felt comfortable or maybe you’ve enjoyed watching something but you picked up on vibes that a family member appeared upset by it. Can you think of when this happened? This is when those individual filters are at play and people are interpreting the same thing in a different way.

I’m going to finish this article here before moving onto part three where I’ll introduce you to a couple of short exercises that you can try to further build your resilient thinking.

Make a quick brew or grab a refreshing cold drink and let’s get stuck in to more about internal representation, how you can better understand situations and how to effectively control your emotions. Believe me, you’ll develop a stronger character for it and you’ll be able to take on the world!


“This is the year I will be stronger, braver, kinder and unstoppable. This year I will be fierce.”


Choose the life you want to lead

Thanks for reading this Spark to your Success blog article. I hope it’s provided a few useful ideas to think about and helped you feel more confident and resilient in yourself. Remember, you are amazing. Sometimes you just need reminding of this or you need to find ways to alter your internal dialogue.

For quick tips on how to become more resilient and grow your self-confidence join our newsletter here – it’s packed full of ideas, cool activities and simple steps you can take to ensure you stay strong, independent and in control of your life.

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If I get the opportunity to work with you, coach you or train you personally then we will definitely have fun exploring additional ways to build the most amazing you. I have fun games and exercises as learning resources plus a huge bank of podcasts, informative blogs, and PDF documents.

Leave your comments, experiences, feedback, questions and any suggestions you have for topics or to discuss challenges- I’d love to hear from you.

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