Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Reality We Create

"Perception is reality"
I've thought a lot about this statement, realizing its meaning and its implications. Our eyes receive information from our environment, and our minds process it, but it's not completely neutral or definitive as we might think. Our emotions are intertwined with what we see, which greatly affects the reality we believe we see. I had 2 friends that told me they believed the other was giving them dirty looks, so they ended up disliking each other. It's quite humorous how they both made up the same things in their heads, but that was their reality.

Imagine being in elementary school again, doing multiplication tests. Did you consistently score higher or lower than the rest of your peers? If you usually scored higher, didn't you feel smarter or better than everyone else? You felt you're good at it, and it was proven to you time and time again. Even if you bombed one test, it didn't change your belief that you're good at it. The person who got the lowest scores had a totally different reality, even though you and him have experienced the same test, same class, same teacher. Of course, there are much more factors at play. Maybe the person who scored lowest was often told by other people that he is stupid, while you were always encouraged and admired.

Did something like this occur to you in school? I can remember countless examples. I noticed how these subtle differences in elementary school became greatly amplified in high school. I noticed how the "dumb" kids had to redo classes again and again, while the "smart" kids started taking high school classes when they were in middle school, their classes becoming exponentially more difficult, thanks to "No Child Left Behind." I was in the "lower end" of the smart group, so I was constantly being told I'm smart and being expected to do well in everything I did. But I often hit a wall and couldn't do as well as I was expected, never scoring as high as the "smartest" people. I had little confidence in myself throughout my whole life.

I never really compared myself to high school dropouts because they weren't really in my life. I was comparing myself to the ones that I was surrounded by: the smartest, most popular, often wealthiest peers in my graduating class. In college, I tried harder and had a different group of peers, but the same mentality kept me from becoming exceedingly talented (which my dream job required), and ultimately, not getting the job I went to school for. There are many things about me that have been amplified over the years as a result of my thoughts and habits. I saw this occur to all of my different friends too, then I noticed how these greatly amplified differences manifested in much older people.

It's kind of like the first Fable game, how your actions determined what your character looked like. Real life is much more complex. Time turns subtle differences into canyons. Wrinkles prove this further.

Why does this happen? We are delicate creatures, so of course if someone as important as our parents tells us we are worthless or stupid, then that emotional pain and thought gets stuck in our head. Even water is very susceptible to negative feedback, and we're mostly water. I've had lots of negative chatter in my head that kept my confidence low because they became firm beliefs. In my parents' eyes, I was a very intelligent person who wasn't doing as well as I could, but in my eyes, my reality, I just wasn't capable of doing as well as I thought. That is a negative limiting belief that held myself back, without me realizing it until recently.

How many limiting beliefs do you have? Do you believe you have to work hard to make a living? That there is only one definition of right and wrong (i.e. your way)? That your way of living and thinking is the best way? That you're worthless and ugly? That you'll start living once you retire? That you just need a boob job or lose weight to be happy with your body? That you are only overweight because you don't exercise?

Bullshit. That's right. Bullshit. Those beliefs only limit yourself, and essentially the rest of us too.

It's not easy to undo all of this, especially the longer it has been a firm belief and how little control over your mind you have. That does not mean its impossible; believing you cannot change is a limiting belief in itself! You are only making excuses when you say you're too old, too set in your ways, not strong or smart enough, and you are keeping yourself from experiencing true freedom. If you believe you are a negative person, then you're right.

But that doesn't mean you can't become a positive person. That change in thinking makes a world of a difference.

Silence your negative chatter, become aware of your ego, gain control of your mind (which is only a tool), and open yourself up to change and limitless possibilities.

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