Friday, December 5, 2008

Reality Check

Our minds play tricks on us. We think we see reality as it truly is, but it is an illusion, made up of conjecture, past experience and wishful thinking. These are pretty harsh words for our brains, however the truth is our perception is mostly made up of what we think is happening and not what is.

Our minds work in a very similar fashion to our computers upon entering a favorite website. When we go to a URL that we have visited in the past, our computer accesses an internal cache on the hard drive and finds the page that we previously viewed. It checks the website again when we newly land at the URL and looks for what is different. A combination of the two images is what we see when the page finally appears on our screen. Depending upon the sophistication of the website, we might end up with a unique version of the site that is simultaneously being viewed by others each with their own unique view. Much like real life.

When we walk into a new room, our minds quickly scan the scene and log everything in fast succession. This is why we are so interested in a new place. We are cataloguing and each one of us will catalogue different things. Our interest wanes after we become comfortable with the surroundings. Whenever we return, we look for what is different than our previously cached version and then combine the two images. This is why very minor changes and sometimes even major ones can be hidden to us for a very long time. The cliché for this is, “To hide in plain sight.”

In the past, I have used this to hide my wife’s Christmas presents. If I’ve purchased a piece of jewelry, I simply place it on the tree as an ornament. If she is not looking for her present there she does not see it until Christmas. I did this twice in two years. She has since caught on to my gambit and she now examines the tree very carefully every year.

When confronted with a potential conflict, we must be certain that what we are experiencing is in fact reality and not something that has been manipulated by our over-active minds or by our partner(s) in the conflict.

An example would be the man who recently shot a teenager because he thought the teen had destroyed his Halloween decorations. Whether or not the youth did the deed, the response was one that should only be reserved for a life or death situation. What happened in the man’s mind that made him feel so threatened and what can we do to avoid this ourselves?

Coming up in the Next Post: Reality Check – How the Martial Artist Sees What is Really There

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