How You Experience Your World
The way each of us experience the world around us is unique and different from how any other person experiences the same things. This is important because our own individual representation of reality determines our thinking and our actions. Understanding this, and understanding that we have choices about how we experience the world and what meaning we give to our experiences, is vital to making positive changes for ourselves.
Information comes to us every moment of every day, millions of bits of information, every second, taken in with our senses. It's not possible for us to have conscious awareness of all the stimulus we are receiving, so we filter most of it out, noticing only what is "relevant" to us according to our individual filtering system.
The message here, is that there is tons of stuff we are not noticing, even though the information is all going in. Have you ever been
so absorbed with something that it took a while before you noticed you were cold, hungry or thirsty? Have you ever made a purchase, a new car or even a new pair of shoes, and suddenly you see them everywhere? Wow, I remember when my twins were born, I wondered why I hadn't noticed before that they were all over the place.
So what changed in those examples above? Something came into our conscious awareness and we started noticing what we had not noticed before, because now it seemed relevant to us. We started filtering it in.
This all happens unconsciously.
How we filter in and filter out what our senses pick up, is determined by our focus, our values and our beliefs.
Our values are emotional states we want to be experiencing, what is most important to us in life. (And it's enlightening to discover that our values are what we have picked up from our upbringing, we don't choose them. There are different kinds of values, we prioritise them, they can be in conflict – a common cause of feeling stuck – and we can choose new ones and change the priority order of them so that they better support our current choices about how we want our life to be).
Our beliefs come about by the meaning we have assigned to experiences in our life. These meanings or decisions are often not helpful to us, and can be changed. We can and do choose the meaning we give to any event or experience – another very useful thing to be mindful of.
Our focus, what we are thinking about, is what we will continuously find evidence to support, find examples of, and what we will experience. This is why it's so important to move your language away from habitually expressing what is wrong in your life and what you don't want, what you want to stop, and move it towards expressing in detail exactly what you do want, how you want to be feeling, what your ideal outcome will look like, what you want to hear. We've been hearing about positive visualization for years, and this is why it works. But it's not just visualizing that's important, the language we use to others and to ourselves is vitally important too. The other part is vividly imagining how we want to feel, actually experiencing the desired emotion in present time by imagining the outcome.
By using language and painting ourselves a clear picture of what we want, we are shifting our focus here. In order to focus on our goals, our desired outcomes, we need to know, clearly, what that goal or outcome looks like, feels like, sounds like. The more detail the better.
As we focus on what we do want, our unconscious mind dutifully goes and looks for it. We start to notice choices, opportunities, and examples towards that outcome.
So if we are looking at the world with the focus of "I'm so worried about my children, there are so many negative influences, I don't think I'm really doing a good enough job, it's so hard to be a parent, I feel so guilty", we will continue to find evidence that it is difficult, that our choices are limited, that we are not capable. If we have the focus of "It's important to me to be a good parent, for my children to be happy, good people and doing well, and I make choices and decisions according to whether they are consistent with supporting this outcome", we will filter in more choices and resources and opportunities to behave in accordance with that focus.
Whenever we see a video on YouTube or read a story about someone inspiring who has overcome hardship or adversity, survivors of concentration camps, people who have recovered amazingly well from serious illness and injuries, people who have made valuable contributions to mankind – what is it that makes them different, that made them able to do these things where others sit on the couch with the illusion of lack of choice? Whether they are consciously aware of it or not, they have made a choice to alter their focus, to see the world in a way that will allow them to do what they need to do, that will allow their unconscious mind to support them towards their goal.
How we experience the world now, that is the internal representation we make from the stimulus coming to us every second of every day, what we make it mean, what we focus on, what we filter in, determines how we will experience the world in the future – what outcomes we will get, what decisions and choices we will make, what it means to us and what emotions we will feel.
So, as you go about your day and notice how you are feeling and what results you are getting, be mindful of what you are focussed on, and what useful stuff you could be noticing and filtering in that will benefit you and contribute to you having greater choice in how you experience your life.
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