Reality Check: How Changing Your Perception Can Improve Your Life
Perception is reality. In other words, what we perceive, we believe (and what we believe to be real becomes very real indeed). The power of perception hinges on several factors, including external influences that become internalized, a belief system that finds its roots early on and becomes more entrenched as we mature, and our tendency to justify destructive habits and behaviors even when faced with facts showing us their dangers.
If you’ve followed along in recent articles on how your belief system can sabotage your success and how to design a new belief system to alter your life path, you already understand some of the benefits of retraining your mind. But to tap into its hidden power, it helps to truly understand – and master – your subconscious. I cover this in my e-book, Get Out of Your Way. For now, however, let’s take a look at the surprising ways your mind really works:
Your Unconscious Filters
The information coming in through your five senses is intercepted by the life “filters” you’ve developed over the years. These sensory filters contribute to an overall subconscious filter that has been formed from your beliefs and life experiences. Each person has a unique subconscious filter, because each person has a unique subjective, personal view of reality.
For example, I could never taste and experience eating an orange in the same way you do. What if you loved oranges and I hated them? Maybe you went to school in Orange County and were voted Orange King or Queen; while at the same time when I was in high school I was pelted by the football team with oranges. (This never happened.) Based on these two very different experiences, our filters would be considerably different, too, when it came to the fruit we call an orange.
Imagine all the other variable experiences we’ve had when it comes to seemingly routine things. Out of all the interpretations you’ve made over the years, do you think there’s a chance that some of those interpretations were incorrect? Could it be possible that you occasionally drew the wrong conclusion based on the limited information you had? The answer for all of us is yes.
As a father, I can better interpret how my parents tried to protect and guide and even rescue me from myself. When my parents told me I couldn’t do something, my child(ish) perception and interpretation was that they didn’t care about my feelings. In reality, they cared about me so much they stood their ground even though saying no was neither easy for them nor pleasant for me. Hard and unpleasant, yes, but also the right thing to do.
Many events in your life may have been upsetting or difficult. But when you look back upon those situations as an adult, you gain a deeper perspective. I was picked on a lot as a child (not with oranges), but I know those early experiences fueled my deep desire to help others become stronger in life, and to escape their own inner bullies. One way I do this is by teaching you how to adopt a new perspective and turn your difficult life experiences into great benefits for yourself and others.
Understanding Your Reality-Creating Unconscious Mind
You are bombarded with over 2.3 million bits of data per second, and your brain can only process about 159,000 bits of this data per second. This means that millions of possibilities, realities, and outcomes get completely ignored or thrown away (erased) without your ever knowing it. Thus, you are only partially in control of your thoughts and beliefs – you are co-creating your reality. God may have provided the quantum energy from which you can shape your life, but your brain selects which energy to pay attention to based on your beliefs, attitude, and focus.
To influence your behavior, you need to work with the part of your mind that controls it: the unconscious. Most of us, however, continue to rely on willpower (the conscious), and that’s why we continue to fail.
Another Layer of Perception
Your unconscious mind will mostly only allow you to perceive things that support your beliefs. I say “mostly” because if your mind only allowed you to see what you believe, you would never have the ability to change. People change every day. My clients are living proof of this possibility, having breakthroughs all the time! In other words, you CAN experience and process “evidence” contrary to what you believe if you are able to keep an open mind and welcome new possibilities.
However, once your unconscious locks onto a certain belief, it will supply your conscious mind with justifications that support only that belief.
Because your unconscious is so powerful, it will overrule logic and convince you that destructive beliefs and unhealthy behaviors are actually positive and healthy. This is why overweight people continue to indulge in pizza, or diabetics drink sugary sodas. And if your mind really believes this – which it has been pre-conditioned to do – it will continue to justify the behavior. “I’m going to start exercising tomorrow, so I might as well live it up tonight,” you might say. Or, “If I don’t drink this soda, I’ll get a terrible headache.” Or, “I really don’t have a choice anymore. I’m addicted to it.” Or, “If I lose weight, I’ll have all this loose skin and it will look worse than my being heavy.” Or, “I’m going to die from something. I might as well enjoy myself.”
These are all actual excuses I’ve heard from obese people. It’s no wonder they could never lose weight; their minds had no intention of changing their behaviors or dropping the fat. Consciously they all said they wanted to lose weight, but unconsciously it just wasn’t going to happen. This is why so many frequent dieters remain heavy. Their beliefs (their perceptions) keep them this way.
What’s the bottom line? Your beliefs will only allow you to see things that support those beliefs. To change your life for the better, therefore, you’re going to have to adopt a new belief system and accept the new reality that you are a fabulous human being with amazing potential; someone strong enough to triumph over your self-limiting beliefs!
To learn more about how to overcome the negative impact of your self-limiting beliefs, check out my e-book, Get Out of Your Way, my audio book, The Power of Optimism: Mental Strategies for Silencing Your Inner Critic, or you can contact me at 317.579.7500.
Tim Shurr, MA, is President of Shurr! Success, Inc., a personal and professional development company based in Indianapolis, and Director of Indy Hypnosis Center. He is an award-winning speaker, business strategist, TV personality, and an internationally known expert in Peak Performance. For more tips, visit www.OvercomeSelfSabotageNow.com or www.indyhypnosis.com/blog.