Reality - what a concept.
A long time ago a friend said “reality is just a crutch for people who can’t handle drugs.” But I think it is more than that.
The nature of reality is a fascinating topic that has long captivated the human imagination and could easily take many more pages of writing than anyone would want to read. After all, the question of what is real vs. what is imagined seems simple at first.
“I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Or “Seeing is believing,” are two commonly used phrases that express this.
This is until you begin to recognize just how complex something as seemingly simple as vision really is.
We assume that when we open our eyes in the morning, the world is all out there in front of us and seeing is effortless and instantaneous. In fact, when you look at an object, you get a distorted, upside down image in your retina that excites the photoreceptors which sends the messages through the optic nerve to the brain where they are analyzed in THIRTY different visual areas in the back of your brain. And then finally, after analyzing all the individual features, you identify what you’re looking at. You piece it together and identify it in a place in your brain called the fusiform gyrus. That’s when your conscious mind pops in and says, “I know that face.”
More over, there are BILLIONS of bytes of sensory input happening at any given moment and the reason we aren’t just totally overloaded by it all is that our other-than-conscious mind distorts, deletes and generalizes all that information and we, consciously, focus on just a small sliver of all that. It’s a byte-sized bit we can handle.
And what we distort, delete, and generalize is based on our pre-conceived beliefs about what’s important to pay attention to.
So many times, our, “Seeing is Believing” idea is really, “I’ll see what I want to see and believe what I already pretty much do believe already.”
I actually think it’s kind of funny to think that we create our own reality.
Because, on one hand, we do… in the way I’ve described above… our perceived reality is based on our internal map of the world we’ve created in our minds.
But, on the other hand, there is also objective reality. As an example, tonight, before you go to bed, rearrange your furniture. Then in the middle of the night, when you get up to get a glass of water, your shins will remind you that the map in your mind did not put the coffee table back where it belongs. You do not create the objective reality; you do create your response to it and the map of how to interact within it.
This is where the Ericksonian concept of pacing and leading comes from. Erickson realized that this individual model of the world we live in is unique to each of us. There are many commonalities, of course, but the gestalt is unique to each individual. So he would attempt to enter into a person’s world (to pace their experience) and then gently lead them to an expanded way of looking at the world.
So while I think it is useful to visualize what you want and state it in the positive, don’t expect a genie to simply plop it in your lap. You might want to get out of bed and take some actions steps towards its creation.
At least, that’s the way I see it.
By the way, my friend and colleague Hali Chambers stimulated this discussion on a blog post she wrote last week. She’s added to the discussion on a more recent post. It’s excellent. Have a look. Here’s a link