Changing Your Reality

Changing Your Reality

Have you ever felt yourself dumbstruck by someone else’s point of view?

Having differing views to others is a normal part of life, but have you ever wondered why you might feel so strongly about something when confronted by a different or opposing belief?

⁠Our view of the world shapes how we experience life. From opinions on how to stack the dishwasher to how the economy should be run, it is one of the most fascinating elements of being a human. ⁠From an early age we develop our belief system based around the people who guide us and our own experiences. This belief system dictates how we see the world and our response to it.

We all have our own ‘reality tunnel’. A way our brain filters out the noise and presents the world to us using the information it has gained from previous experience. ⁠If we have had a negative experience of something, this can lead to negative beliefs which create fears or phobias or problems further down the road. ⁠

What is a reality tunnel? I hear you ask. Coined by Timothy Leary, it is the theory that the unconscious mind uses a set of mental filters shaped by experiences and beliefs: everybody experiences the world differently. The brain is constantly processing millions of pieces of information at any given moment and there is only so much it can interpret, so it filters it down to a set of observations we can manage. We are, in a way, hallucinating our reality based on our own, individual filters.

When you pass a stranger on the street, it's unlikely you'd be able to recall what they looked like if asked five minutes later. Your brain will have reached its limit, decided that information is not useful to us and therefore filters it out. In the fascinating 1999 study, titled the Invisible Gorilla test, volunteers were asked to watch a video of two groups of people, one group dressed in white t-shirts and the other in black. They were passing a basketball from one group to the other and the volunteers were asked to count the ball passes made by the people in white t-shirts and ignore the passes made by the group wearing black. Midway through the video, a person dressed in a gorilla suit walks right through the group. Around half of the volunteers did not notice the gorilla. They had in-attentional blindness. They simply didn’t notice what they were not looking out for.

As Will Storr writes in his brilliant book, The Science of Storytelling

“The job of all the senses is to pick up clues from the outside world in various forms: light waves, changes in air pressure, chemical signals. That information is translated into millions of tiny electrical pulses. Your brain reads these electrical pulses, in effect, like a computer reads code. It uses that code to actively construct your reality, fooling you into believing this controlled hallucination is real. It then uses its senses as fact-checkers, rapidly tweaking what it’s showing you whenever it detects something unexpected.”

So how can we use this to change the negative beliefs in our reality tunnels? Because we certainly can change them, that is the wonderful thing about the human mind, it is malleable, it is plastic. We change and we grow everyday as do our beliefs. Some beliefs change in a moment of insight, do you still believe in father Christmas or the tooth fairy? I’m assuming not, but once that belief was as real to you as the screen you’re reading this on.

Once you can identify the negative beliefs or untruths your mind is feeding you, you can work to change the power they hold over you. This will take time and work on your side, identifying something you previously held to be the absolute truth as an incorrect hallucination is not going to be an immediate process. Start with what you would want to change, think about feelings you get in certain situations that are not serving you. Think of how other people respond to the same situations and whether they have the same feelings. The first step is understanding and identifying that your experience is unique to you. The negative beliefs you may have which lead to fear, misunderstanding, lack of self-worth, lack of confidence, are just that, beliefs. Beliefs that have come to be because of the experiences we have had throughout life and the narrative we have unconsciously chosen to follow because of this.

Once you know what to look out for, you can challenge it: Take a fear of dogs as an example. If you are afraid of a dog running over to you ask yourself why. What has that dog done to show you it is wanting to attack you? Has it actually come close to you or is it more interested in playing with that stick? Is your brain playing tricks on you and hallucinating a dangerous animal when everyone else is witnessing a calm and gentle dog minding its own business? Question your fears, question whether they have value or not. Question whether the negative beliefs, whether they be about your looks, your weight, your ability, your worth — question them and begin to wonder what might be right for you to replace them.

If we repeat something enough to ourselves, it starts to stick. So, in the same way we created the negatives in the first place, repeating them again and again, swap them out for positive affirmations or positive statements. Positive beliefs. Change your reality tunnel to one that serves you better.

Lili x


Lili Sinclair-Williams is the Founder of LSW London

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