4b - Limits of the Mind

Posted by Helen St Clair Tracy in Level 4 - Self Referencing
Published: 28/01/2020, 12:13am | Updated: 24/02/2020, 7:33am

Video Link: https://vimeo.com/391531193

The "Limits of Our Minds" - what does this mean?

Through your five main (conscious) senses, your body reports to your mind about everything around itself. Your mind computes this information to enable you to function, and to ensure your safety and allow you to learn. This remarkable process started when you were a new-born baby, and the information collected by your senses, formed into a network of memories which have dictated everything you know and the person you have become. But, and this is a very important but, you were only able to learn from what you were able to perceive. We have explained this process in more detail in level 2, please review these lessons if needed.

So, how are our minds limited?

The limits of our mind are complex. They include everything that we have learned and understood, and everything that is and has been accessible to us. So that things we have experienced with clarity, make sense and have meaning.

When things cannot be fully seen or heard, or make no sense, or cannot be understood, these things are outside the limits of our minds to take in. Even when something is only partly perceived or understood, or slightly misunderstood, it is still outside of the limits of our mind to fully take in, so may be misinterpreted.

Look at this diagram (below). The inner circle represents everything that is clear and meaningful, and so easy to understand and learn from (please review lesson 2d for a more detailed explanation).

Language is a good example to explain the limits of the mind, because it is how the vast majority of people communicate. It also helps form our understanding of our thoughts.

Language: Clear

Think about the language people use, and about people you know, whom you find very clear and easy to understand. Why are they so clear and easy to understand? Some reasons may include, because they are...

  • speaking in a language you are fluent in
  • using words, terms and expressions you know well
  • speaking at a speed you can follow
  • speaking when there is no background noise so it is easy to hear the words clearly
  • talking about a subject, a person or a situation you are familiar with
  • talking about something you are interested in

All of those people who talk to you in a way that is clear and easy to understand are in your inner circle of clarity.

Language - Less Clear

Now think of times when people have been talking to you or explaining something, and it has been less clear. Maybe...

  • The person was talking too quietly for you to hear everything
  • You needed some help with a computer, and the language used to support you was too technical, and you came away unsure what to do.
  • A subtle suggestion was made, using sarcasm or a different tone of voice, and you have missed or misinterpreted it.
  • Someone was talking about something you are not interested in or know little about, or you found the conversation boring and difficult to focus on or difficult to listen to.
  • They had an accent and it was difficult to understand all the words, so you had to try to fill in the gaps where words were missed.

There are many reasons why we can't always understand what people are saying or explaining.

The Limits of your Mind

The inner circle is your clear thinking mind. Of course your mind's content grows. This is a growing circle. If you newly learnt another language like French, when you listened to someone French, what you hear would change from incompletely to completely clear.

Yet we all will always have boundaries between what is clear and what is not clear. These are the Limits of your Mind.

Any example of what you know or can do, can be applied to this simple idea, even something physical like playing table tennis...

Let us imagine a little boy is being taught to play table tennis (or ping pong) by their big sister, and LOVING IT!

The big sister has explained the rules simply. Although she is much better at the game, she plays so that her brother can easily return the ball. This game is in his inner circle of clarity, and with that, the little brother can learn and get better.

One day the little brother asks his sister to make it more difficult, so she hits the ball faster, and it is harder to return. Here, the game is 'less clear'.

How is this 'less clear'?

To learn to play table tennis the little brother is building lots of new skills and memories, including haptic memories (see lesson 2g). This means he can return balls with increasing accuracy when they move faster. But, because the standard of the game is going beyond his skill level, his present skills are not advanced enough. This can be understood as being less clear.

Now, a friend comes to the house who is very good at table tennis, and plays against the little brother. The friend plays so fast and hard that the little brother cannot return a single ball. So this game has no meaning for him. It is not clear, just like listening to an unknown foreign language.

Thinking about the little brother. What do you imagine is the best way to teach him to become a world class table tennis player?

Anything you can think of that you know, or partly know or don't know, and anything you can, partly can or can't do, can be thought of in terms of:

  • Clear
  • Less Clear
  • Not Clear

Whether it is baking a cake, grooming a dog, washing a car, exploring a new city, trimming a garden hedge, drawing a picture, using a mobile phone, influencing or motivating people...the list is endless.

Clear = the Limit of your Mind.

Less Clear / Not Clear = Beyond the (current) Limits of your Mind

What about their mind though? The mind of the person with CVI.

Think of all those clear circles of your mind, and where things become less clear for you, across everything you know. These are all going to be different for the person with CVI. In the next lesson, we are going to look specifically at how CVI affects these circles of clarity. And we will explain how the limits of your mind will differ from theirs.

As 'we all learn best when things are clear', this means you must understand the limits of their circles of clarity, across all aspects of their life. From the previous lesson...

Image of two worlds with the text 'you need to learn how to live in two parallel worlds, theirs and yours'.Image of two worlds with the text 'you need to learn how to live in two parallel worlds, theirs and yours'.

When you master this idea you will begin to make their learning much more effective.


Before you move onto the next lesson, please check you understand the following:

  • What we mean by the Limits of your Mind
  • The difference between anything being clear, less clear and not clear
  • Everyone learns best when things are clear
  • What is clear for people with CVI may be different to what is clear for you

Next lesson: Level 4c Self Referencing - Their World with CVI

Optional further reading

Further reading is not necessary to proceed, but if interested, you may enjoy the following:

Learning at Home - A more detailed explanation how to make learning optimally accessible.


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