In Germany, people might talk about their “Kopfkino”. When roughly translated, this means “mental cinema”. We all have a mental cinema playing in our minds – the films are our personal experiences and expectations of how situations will unfold. Most of us don’t actively decide what we play in our mental cinema and this can have detrimental effect on how we co-exist with humans and other animals.
A classic example: Your dog barks at other dogs. This becomes normal to you. In other words, your mental cinema shows your dog barking every time another dog appears “on screen”.
You may begin to tense up, tighten the leash, correct your dog or a myriad of other behaviours in these moments – whether your dog has noticed the dog or not. In this mental cinema your dog always barks when, in reality, it may be the behaviours that you exhibit due to this mental film which initiates and supports your dog’s reaction.
Well the only reason I started reacting in those ways is because my dog started barking in those situations – not the other way around! This is likely true. However, instead of actively turning our dog’s behaviour around through training and socialisation and so on, we are simply reacting and consider it a given that this behaviour will appear. Your dog barking at other dogs has become such a cemented scene in your mental cinema film that it is “just the way it is”.
This is something that can happen to everyone. Simply being aware of our mental cinemas we have playing in our minds can play a key role in changing the casting and scenes around and making necessary changes.