Tuesday 3 July 2012

Compelling Illusions, Human Misery & the Power of your Own Bull


"The evidence of your own eyes" will tell you this picture is not possible. Yet there it sits. What can't speak can't lie, right? It's nuts... Walk away.

In fact, it is a real and possible object and it does exist, but it's not what you think. You've made an assumption which is so strong, you can't think it's wrong. In fact your assumption is so strong, and so universally true for you, that you don't even see that you're making it. You're just "seeing the world as it undeniably is".

Coaches call these "mistaken certainties" and they are very powerful in most of us. Things we think we know about ourselves. Things which are obvious. I've written about this a lot, because it keeps arising time after time in my coaching practice, and it's so pernicious that we need constantly reminding that things are not always what they seem. We should stay open to information form the world. We should hold off the point of decision making (AKA "closing down")  and see what the world is really telling us.

If you have low self esteem then you'll know (and I mean know) some pretty awful things about yourself, and you see the world in the context of that knowledge. I often describe it this way:
seeing the world
through the lens
of your beliefs
Let's say you think you're not very clever.  Well, let's say you know it, because the world has been confirming it all your life.

So, you're un-confident and highly stressed when you're "out there". You don't think clearly, and you know what? That looks a lot like not being very clever. So you make the thing you fear is true, true.

It gets worse, because you make others make it true, too.

So, you're talking with someone, and what they say doesn't make sense. OMG - it's further proof that you're dumb, right? Well, it could be that they're not thinking very clearly at the moment, or that they're distracted, or that it's noisy and you didn't hear properly, but you'll reject those because the other one makes more sense, because it fits with what you know.

You are interpreting the information the world gives you, based on what you know about the world. That sounds sensible, right?

You are interpreting the information the world gives you in a way which supports your beliefs. That's not quite so sensible, it is?

You are distorting the world to fit your beliefs. Now we're getting there. And if these beliefs make you unhappy? So much the better.

How to get out of this, then?

Well, I said it earlier, but here it is in a little more detail.

Firstly, as always, raise your awareness of your thoughts. Sounds dumb - how can you NOT be aware of your thoughts, right? Well - very easily, and almost all of the time. So bring them into your consciously analytical mind. You'll struggle to remember to do that, so try this.

Then recognise that you are making judgements based on your certainties. Try to accept that these certainties may be wrong. Stay open; be a little mischievous. Then see what you see. Easy to say - hard to do.

When you let your certainties unravel, the real world will emerge, and usually - it's rather nicer that the one you made up!

Now, enjoy, as this video rips up your certainties, showing you that impossible is possible and that what you absolutely knew - was totally wrong.  Send it to your most certain friends - shake 'em up a bit!

If you want help to unravel your issue, then my book below will help you. Or why not book an informal phone chat to explore possibilities.

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