A mile in your shoes

It is frequently said that you control your reality and the world is simply how you perceive it to be.  Our brain wants to make sense of the world, our lives, bodies, interactions, and all stimuli and it constantly looks to us to help it organize, categorize, label, and filter. Once it has its structure, it can pick out what is valuable and/or important and either file it away or put it front and center for display as the most important thing in the world for us to focus on. This is both a benefit and a detriment.

For example walking from your door to your car this morning, what did you notice? Probably next to nothing! You have already filed away most, if not all, of the sights, sounds, smells, and stimuli presented to you as you leave your house each morning. You may take note of a few things, but in general the walk to your car, and the majority of world around you every day is filled with things you will not even see.

Our brains function more effectively than any known computer, making our lives better through sifting and filing away ‘redundant’ or ‘useless’ information. It is amazing! And it is beautiful in its efficiency.  It is our dearest friend keeping us on track and not bogged down and overloaded with too many useless details. In fact we could not function in our lives and society if we had to individually examine ever bit of information that assaults our senses every moment. It also helps shape our general mood, personality, and viewpoint of the world.

It holds the keys to our basic survival and how to endure in this chaotic and dangerous world of “lions, and tiger, and bosses, oh my!” while making us acutely aware of the details that matter most to us.  What is amazing is that all these preferences have been compiled and filed in a way that allows us to automatically ‘know’ things and behave accordingly without ‘thinking’ about it. We are not constantly calculating and deciding what we like and how we like it. The brain watches tirelessly throughout our lives collecting data and shaping our preferences.  Our preferences and personality become almost as unconscious as blinking or taking a breath. It is who we are.

What is so fascinating is that our brain is like an eager child wanting and working tirelessly to please and provide us with exactly what we want. In doing so it will scan billions of bits of information to find what matters to you and lay that bit of information before you on an alter.

Unfortunately, it is not flawless. There is much that is sacrificed on the alter of your perceived perspective. As our brain comes to our rescue in the endless seas of infinite input it shelters us, but we become incredibly accustomed to the filters of our paradigm and often start believing that ours is the only one…or at least the right one. Our way of seeing our lives and our world makes absolute and perfect sense. It simply IS the way the world is, or should be. And why wouldn’t we think and believe that? No matter what, our brain will find the evidence in the world to support our beliefs.  You will never lack for examples to support your perspective. Your reality is absolutely true. It is absolutely the way the world is.

It is exactly the way things happen, should happen, an how world is…through the filter of your eyes.

It becomes very easy to see the world and the people in it through the filter of our own experience…in fact it is the absolute ONLY way you can see the world. You can never step outside your brain and your particular experiences…it is biologically impossible. You can find a broader awareness, and likely a stronger sense of compassion and empathy; but what is fundamentally true is that there is absolutely no way to strip away your life experiences and perspectives and replace them with another persons. You can never actually be honest in saying, “I know exactly how you feel.” Your perspective is always absolutely right. How fascinating is it, though, that there are seven billion other possible versions of right?

The more immersed one is into something, the less they are even aware of it.  You cannot ask the bird what is air, the fish what is water, the tree what is forest…

Being aware of the fact that we are blind to most things is our greatest possibility of seeing.

Practice seeing from different perspectives. You can start with your pet…what was their early life like? How did they develop their annoying habits and why do you think they do that? How about your family, your friends?

Eventually start thinking about an individual that makes you angry…or hurt you…how do you think they may have gotten to that place? What was their life experience? How might their world be different than yours, but seem equally real and right to them? We may never be able to actually embody the actual experience of another human being, but we find compassion, patience, forgiveness, and peace as we consciously attempt to walk the mile.