What if the way you see the world is exactly what it is: the way YOU see the world? What if your brain filters only that which resonates with you?
Last week, a friend posted on Facebook a picture of a lounge with the question where she was. To me it just was a lounge, a rather nondescript lounge, but a lounge nonetheless. Curious as to where it would be, I scrolled through the comments, where one of my friends had commented ‘One where you can smoke.’ Huh? Back to the picture, and there out of the blue, like magic appeared ashtrays on the tables. Really chuncky ashtrays. And I, having an eye for detail, had not noticed them. And I wasn’t the only one, other non-smokers had not noticed them either. It was not part of our world. It did not resonate with us, until someone directed our focus to it.
Our brains skim and scan through masses and masses of information, and make sure we get the information we want, by highlighting information that matches with that which is activated within us. Suppose you just decided to buy a new car, a Toyota Corolla. There are many of those, but you never noticed them, until then. Or a Tesla Roadster, there aren’t too many of those, but once you decided to buy one, you see them everywhere. Because in your brain the tag Toyota Corolla or Tesla Roadster gets activated. This is an unconscious process. The new car will probably where off pretty quickly, although I must admit that I still see my car driving everywhere. However some tags are active for a long time. Especially fear-based beliefs. Suppose you have learned through experience that you are ‘not good enough’. You will find proof of the belief that you don’t measure up everywhere and be completely blind to proof of the opposite. Or that you believe that dogs are dangerous, because you were bitten by one as a kid and after 30 years every dog is still highlighted.
Our perceptions are coloured by your beliefs. From very early on in your life, we were taught how to see ourself and the world. On top of that, we have also unconsciously adopted beliefs from our parents and the community we grew up in. What we see and hear is manipulated by our brain. We are biased. We are not half as objective as we think we are. Do you know which fear-based beliefs are clouding your vision? It is important to know, because that which is unconsciously active within us determines for a great part what our life looks like.
We attract into our life what we believe to be true on the deepest levels, literally. Our brain can be divided in an upper and a lower part. Fear-based beliefs are located in the lower ‘non-thinking’ part of the brain, they hold great power and are mostly unconscious. So we can intellectually believe something to be true about ourself and have a deeper-seated, opposite belief directing our actions, and not see the discrepancy ourselves. In other words, we could be sure that we are not a racist and still have an unconscious fear-based belief that we are, which rules our life without us being aware of it. Then what we attract into our life is racism. This is as much true for people who act in ways that we consider to be racist as for people who will say or do anything not to be labeled racist, and in that way act from racist motives.
Before you read on, I want you to do an exercise. Humor me, go stand before a mirror, or you can do without if that is to too vague for your taste, and say aloud, convincingly to yourself, I am a racist and see what happens, watch the emotions that arise. Take your time. Here we go: I am a racist. I am a racist. I AM a racist. I AM a racist. I am a RACIST. I am a RACIST. I AM A RACIST. I AM A RACIST. I AM A RACIST! I am a racist.
In the past years, I have done a lot of exercises to uncover unconscious fear-based beliefs. Most of them I forgot. This one I did 15 years ago and it made such an impact that I remember it to this day. In The dark side of the Light chasers by the late Debbie Ford there was a long list with traits to help me identify my ‘shadows’, those parts of us that are active within us, but that we don’t recognize and even repress. I had to read the whole list aloud and stop wherever I had a reaction of some sort. There were a few traits I reacted to rather strongly, being a racist was one of them. I remember reading ‘I am a racist’ and thinking: I am NOT! and then staying with it, repeating ‘I am a racist’, until I sat there sobbing: I am not, I don’t want to be a racist. I don’t want to be a racist.
I guess this trait evokes big emotions with almost everyone that lives in a country with a racist past. It is a very charged subject. Only very little people, like say the Dalai Lama, will be able to do this exercise on this trait and stay completely relaxed and open, responding gently ‘maybe’ after each ‘accusation’.
When we don’t recognize or even repress a trait that is active within us, we will see its presence in the world and in our lives, it will be a recurring theme whether we are aware of it or not. Only that which is active within us can resonate with us. It is in recognizing that we are good enough for some and not good enough for others, that we neutralize the fear of not being good enough. It is in recognizing that we are capable of racism, or any other unrecognized or repressed trait, that we deactivate it. When we recognize that we are full of potential, that we can develop any trait, that they are all part of the human experience, then our shadow loses its power and no longer taints our view of life and our behavior. No, we aren’t racist, but we could be, if the conditions were right. We can only find balance on this subject if we fully and deeply understand that we all are capable of being both Hitler and Ghandi. These two extremes, dark and light, exist in the human consciousness, they exist in us, we are part of the human consciousness. We can only find balance and peace on any subject if we find the middle way, that space where there are no opposites, no extremes, where we see the two ends of the stick and realize it was one stick all along.