Here is a simple situation to try and help understand your metamind aka: your conscience. Remember that it is actually a favorable mutation as a long term risk management tool, will explain why your conscience might for example, give you hints as to how to avoid the long standing expenses stemming from a traffic infraction.
Imagine you are driving down the highway. There are ideal road conditions and few cars surround you. The speed limit seems woefully low under these conditions. Your speed slips up to well over ten miles an hour over the speed limit. Without any hazards it seems to be a rational, safe speed. You are not terribly conscious of it as your mind has little work to do for the task at hand. You mind wanders across the events of your day for some time as you drive.
Without warning or explanation you mind has a sudden jerking thought in what seems to be a fraction of a second. ‘COP!’ Policeman, for the slang impaired. Fear jets through your blood. Adrenaline avalanches through your body. Your foot comes off the gas almost instantly and perhaps presses on the brake lightly. No policeman is visible. No new hazards have appeared. The car seems to be functioning fine.
You are approaching an area where a speed trap can be set. But here is the strange thing. You were not driving along scanning for a policeman. You have passed three areas that known to you policemen can also hide.
As your mind wanders you begin to rationalize, perhaps aloud to your befuddled passengers if they are present. ‘Oh it’s the end of the month.’ ‘There could be a speed trap up ahead.’ ‘I can’t afford to get another ticket.’ ‘I saw someone else brake.’ etc, etc..
Then maybe a minute and a mile later, well out of sight of your original flash, right when you start jabbing yourself for your strong reaction, there it is. A highway patrol car occupied by a radar gun wielding trooper. You smirk. You’re a genius. You’re practically psychic. Your luck knows no bounds.
Not exactly. While your rational mind bandied about connecting concrete thoughts into explainable strings, your metamind was hard at work with the world at hand as always. Every cloud formation, every family interaction that morning, every time another driver touched his brakes without explanation, contributed to your mood in a subtle way. It changed the sum of your emotional metadata. It created a framework for your emotional metamind to connect unlike marginally related things.
So it may well be that your flash of insight may well have been ‘COP!’ It may have been that your mind recognized the end of the month. But your subconscious mind did it. Your conscious mind was at work elsewhere. Sure you may attach a rational thought to it after the fact, but that’s just what rationalization is, after the action. Your metamind may have associated the happy feelings your paycheck brings or the negative awareness of a family members menstrual cycle, with the end of this calendar month. It may have connected the local policemens preference for setting speed traps on warm days or the polical signals of increased discussion of Driving while Intoxicated on the local news with increased action. There may be a total calculus of one hundred things, but when they added up, your metamind sent you a clear ‘risk’ message. It worked. It saved you from a ticket. A long term risk for sure.
We don’t normally think of rationalization when it’s for a good outcome, but we should. That’s your metamind talking to you. Rationalization for good outcomes is an opportunity both to tune your metamind and better understand yourself, your own feelings, and strengths and weaknesses of your metamind. Listen to your gut. Balance your understanding of it against your rational understanding of the situation at hand. It can, instantly sometimes, protect you from complex risk to hard for our brains to compile in a step by step way. Tuning your conscience can make it both faster to respond, and more accurate with it’s warnings.
It is our primary advantage over the psychopaths around us. Look to them to understand the risks of short term thinking without emotional metadata. Look to the effects of their ‘rational’ choices on their lives in the long run to understand the advantages you have.