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I Know You Know You Think You Know What I Am Thinking: Think Again

What an odd, thought-inspiring title. Really, the title should lead you to a bit of chaotic thinking and chaotic possibilities. Double-think, triple-think, quadruple-think, the sky is the limit really and I don’t pretend to think I understand this line of chaotic reasoning anyway. At best, I am only certain it exists and is a part of war games (even the innocent kind of war games) and strategic thinking.

                In an effort to not over-think things, let’s try and expand this notion by considering a fun game like chess. Let’s say we sit down to a game of chess and it appears as if (after playing several games) we both have similar levels of skill. Sometimes you win, sometimes I win, but overall, neither of us asserts, through our respective moves, noticeable dominance and repeated victory. Because of this reality, we must now shift ‘the game’ to a new level and challenge the mental strategies of each other’s mind. What this sort of means is that we must now think about where the other person is moving next and how our thinking of that next move actually influences the move itself.

                This is where we get into the whole ‘I think you think you think I am thinking this, therefore I will think differently and you must think about what I am thinking you think you think about my thinking differently’. I know, it’s sounds absolutely crazy and ridiculous, right? Maybe, maybe not. I guess it really depends on who your opponent is sitting down on the opposite side of the table. Is your opponent someone just sitting there, moving pieces , counting squares and trying to avoid hazardous moves? Or, is your opponent someone who enjoys the idea of ‘warring minds’ trying to outmaneuver each other in a game of skill, rigor, and patience? Both questions, in of themselves, brings forth this 3rd question – how do you really who you are actually playing with anyway?

                But let’s not get too nuts, were just talking about a fun game of pieces and squares. One thing I am beginning to learn, however, is that when people want to win and are in a weak position within a current game, they will feign vulnerable facial expressions and create inferior-looking postural positions. While this may be quite true, it is another fantastic facet of the game – the temporary fluctuation of emotion that tries to incite an illogical response from a competitor and compromise their position.

                In playing with a friend of mine, I do know this; he is thinking about what I am thinking about his thinking about my thinking. Therefore, I must think again and, think differently. Otherwise, my thinking will likely not out think his thinking. Which, of course, would stink…

Do you think about what others think about your thinking? Or, do you think monolithically?

Matthew Polkinghorne

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