10/3/2018 0 Comments
“Projection is the mother of perception”, this Ken Wilber quote was brought to my attention as I trained to become a BioNeuroEmotion® (BNE) practitioner. It had a lasting impact on me because it helped me to understand that we do not see things as they are, but rather as we are. In other words, we are constantly projecting our beliefs on the world that surrounds us, which in turn determines how we perceive what we are “seeing”.
Understanding this, is acknowledging that we are entirely responsible for how we choose to see things. That is a very empowering realisation in itself because, at the end of the day, it is not what happens to us that matters, but how we choose to perceive it that makes all the difference. It also means that we have the power to transcend whatever obstacles show up on our paths, should we be willing to. Indeed, by adopting that viewpoint we get to see that in every encounter, in every situation and in every challenge there is an opportunity for us to grow and thrive. And that, my friends, is a goldmine.
One of my favourite books out there is Man’s Search for Meaning. For someone like me, who deep down despaired about life (although I really didn’t have any apparent reason to), seeing how Viktor Frankl was able to embody all of the above while in a death camp was extremely eye opening for me. What is so touching about his account is his ability to still see the beauty in life, in the midst of the most abject and inhumane conditions. Not only that, but he also chose to use his extremely challenging experience to empower humanity; NOT TO spread a message of hate and anger. I’m not saying he didn’t feel any of those negative emotions. He had every right to and undoubtedly did the processing work he had to first, but eventually he chose to listen to his heart instead. He understood that rather than allowing what he went through to destroy him, he would use it to help himself and others alike. He truly loved life. In fact, his book is a tribute to life! If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you go grab yourself a copy. His attitude is primarily what allowed him to survive the death camps and, later, become a recognised psychiatrist, helping thousands of people throughout his career.
If you think of it, the greatest leaders in history, those who inspired humanity to transcend old paradigms, all have that in common. Think Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jesus Christ, Oprah Winfrey or Ekhart Tolle, just to name a few. Their way of perceiving the world helped them turn pitfalls into stepping-stones. They were not afraid to face their own shadows. In fact they accepted them as part of their growth process.
The good news is that you do not have to be Nelson Mandela to do that. Anyone can change their perception, heal their heart and find their true purpose in life. It’s just about learning how to and having faith in the process. In a Course in Miracles (a wonderful metaphysical text – a miracle is a change in perception) it says something along the lines of: “those who have achieved the most in the history of humanity, have achieved a fraction of what we are all capable of achieving.” I will let you read that sentence a couple of times and really embrace the truth in it.
Now let’s look at a how perception works.
THE UNCONSCIOUS MIND:
In order to understand perception we must understand how the unconscious mind works. The theory of the unconscious mind was of particular interest to Sigmund Freud as he studied human behaviour. It was then further developed by his disciple Carl Gustav Jung and continues to be the subject of much research. In a nutshell, our conscious mind comprises thoughts, memories and emotions we are aware of. Research is now showing that these only account for 5% of our psyche. In turn, our unconscious mind makes up the remaining 95%.
Yes, that's right you read it correctly, 95% of our behaviour is unconscious behaviour. According to University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Paul Whelan "Most of what we do every minute of every day is unconscious." He then adds that: "Life would be chaos if everything were on the forefront of our consciousness."  For example, the unconscious mind is responsible for us breathing without having to consciously remember to do so. Yes, you've got it: if it weren't for the unconscious mind, you and I would probably no longer be of this beautiful world.
So it is safe to say that our perception is largely dependent on our unconscious mind as well. The unconscious mind records every single event that has occurred in our life. It, therefore, holds all the information that helps us interpret what we perceive. With that in mind, let's look at some of its main characteristics:
1. The other doesn't exist. The unconscious mind does not understand duality. In its world everything is interconnected. Therefore, even though, other people clearly exist to your conscious mind, for the unconscious mind they are just an extension of you. As a result, we don't perceive people as they really are.
Take someone like the president of the United States, for example. Some people will see a series of characteristics in him and others will see the exact opposite characteristics. Yet, he is sending out the same message to everyone. What people perceive in him is based on their own interpretation of the world, much of which is unconscious.
2. Everything is real. The unconscious mind cannot distinguish between real or imaginary events. Whatever you are thinking or seeing is real to the unconscious mind.
That is why scary movies will make you jump. Although to you it's just a movie, the unconscious mind perceives it as if it were really happening. So, your heart begins to pound and your entire nervous system is on alert.
3. It's timeless. The unconscious mind has no notion of past or future. It only knows of the present moment.
So in its reality, everything you are thinking of is happening right now and will elicit a response in your body. From a therapeutic point of view this is wonderful, because it means that with the right tools and training, one can help someone recall a difficult experience and allow them to experience it differently, in the present. As the unconscious mind is timeless, changes are permanent. This can produce a neurological shift and can even have a genetic impact.
4. It's innocent. Think of it as a child. It has no notion of good or bad. It doesn't judge either. It just processes the information it receives and acts upon it.
THE MIRROR EFFECT
As we have seen, our unconscious mind determines most of our behaviour and its way of functioning is very different to that of the conscious mind. Most of us were brought up to rely mainly on our 5%, but without understanding the tremendous power of the remaining 95%, this way of operating leaves us pretty much in the dark. The unconscious mind is not superior to the conscious mind; it's just different and they both complement each other. As with everything in nature: it's all about finding balance.
Now, knowing that to our unconscious mind the other person does not exist is a great opportunity to use the mirror effect to our advantage. So what do I mean by mirror effect?
In BNE (BioNeuroEmotion) we are taught never to talk about others, but about ourselves in relation to others. Let me explain what we mean by that.
Remember that we don't see people as they really are, but we see them as we project them to be. That has a lot to do with the way we see the world and with our unconscious patterns, some learned in childhood, from our culture or inherited from past generations. I will write another blog post specifically on this and the topic of behavioural epigenetics, which is fascinating. However, for now, let's look at that good old mirror effect.
Here is a scenario I believe many of us can relate to:
Say that a few months ago you started a new Job. It involves working alongside your boss. At the beginning it was all new and exciting. Then, things changed. Looking back, you see that during the interview your gut did warn you that something was not quite right. However, your rational mind loved her class and presence, and you decided to accept the role. It has been a few months now and the class and presence have given way to constant tantrums, complaining and what you perceive as disrespectful behaviour towards you.
Again let's look at a couple of possible outcomes:
Option 1: you see yourself as a complete victim of circumstances.
You say things to yourself, and anyone who wants to listen, like: How dare SHE treat ME like that. What have I done to deserve this situation? SHE is so disrespectful TOWARDS ME. SHE is so selfish. And, you play this story over and over in your head, even though it's the weekend and she is nowhere to be seen (remember for the unconscious mind she is right there with you on your couch!). The situation becomes so unbearable that you develop anxiety. You take prolonged sick leaves and you eventually quit from a very bitter and victimised place.
Now, no one is saying that your boss is not acting the way she is acting and that her behaviour is justified. However, by placing all the responsibility on her, you have also handed all your power over to her.
Option 2: You understand that in every situation, there is a lesson for you to learn and, instead, you look at your perception of her to try to figure out what she is mirroring back at you.
You ask yourself questions like: how AM I disrespecting myself THROUGH HER? What can I do to respect myself better? You understand that people only disrespect you, if you allow them to. You start looking at small things you can do to show more respect to yourself in the work place and in general, and build that muscle from there. You start standing up for yourself. You understand that you both have the same root information: a lack of respect and love for yourselves. That same information is just being expressed in different forms or polarities (aggressiveness vs. submission).
As I said before, that does not justify her behaviour and I am not saying you should put up with it. However, this attitude gives you the insight to start acting on it, to your advantage. Taking responsibility for where we are at in our lives gives us tremendous power to change what we don't like. So, instead of saying SHE is so selfish or why am I always meeting selfish people? You start to think: where am I not putting myself first in my life? Should I perhaps be thinking of myself more? How am I not listening to my own needs? You start to realise that it is not the first time you have encountered this type of situation either. It seems to be a reoccurring pattern in your life.
Once you are aware of the message she is teaching you, you use it as an opportunity to start respecting and loving yourself more. From that place, you instinctively know what to do to improve the quality of your experience. Maybe by respecting yourself, you are able to perceive more of the elegant & witty woman you first admired. Maybe it also means walking away from that job, but this time from a calm, centred place, having learned your lesson. Only then, will you be ready to attract a very different working environment. Because when it comes down to it, we don't attract what we want, but who we are. And, if we walk away as a victim, chances are we will attract another aggressor somewhere down the line.
It doesn't mean we deserve to. No one is saying anybody deserves to be treated badly. Responsibility and blame are two entirely different concepts. However, remember that your unconscious mind is innocent. If the information is that you disrespect yourself, it will provide more of that information to you until you are consciously able to change it.
The beauty is that when you learn to pay attention and become aware of it, through what others are mirroring back at you, you bring that information to the light. It is no longer unconscious and you can decide how to act on it.
Because truly, when you look in the mirror and see a messy hairdo, you don't grab a brush to brush the mirror, do you? What good would that do for your messy hair?
If you haven't already guessed, I chose to speak from a personal experience. I selected option 1 many times at different stages of my life: different bosses/colleagues, same scenario, same information. It is only when I learned to apply option 2 that things started to really change for me. Now, I am in a completely different place, not because my external circumstances miraculously changed, but because I was willing to change first and allowed my life to unfold differently as a result. There is no bitterness, no blame there, just acceptance, understanding and a lot of gratitude for the lessons I learned in the process.
It is much easier to blame others and expect THEM to change. However, that is an impossible task. The only one you can change in this life, is you. And as Wayne Dyer said so beautifully “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”. Now, please don't believe him. Don't believe me. Just go and find out for yourself!
When someone triggers you, understand that there is a gold mine waiting to be uncovered right there. My mentor, Enric Corbera (the father of BNE), always says: You don't need to go all the way to Tibet to find your Spiritual Master. You real Master is probably the person sleeping right next to you every night! That person has the ability to mirror beautiful things back to you and, at the same time, to trigger you like nobody else can: PAY ATTENTION, look straight into that mirror and give yourself the opportunity to grow. There is a reason you unconsciously chose them.
And there you have it! I hope you enjoyed the read. I would love to hear your own thoughts on the subject. What is the greatest lesson you have learned through a challenging experience or person? If you hadn't gone through that experience or relationship, what strength would you be lacking right now?
Meanwhile, may something inspiring happen to you today!
With all my love,
As a BioNeuroEmotion (BNE) practitioner, I help consciously aware people identify the emotional root cause of any re-occurring pattern, issue or physical ailment they might have, so they can shift their perception and show up as their best selves.
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Hi, I´m Dannie
A fellow soul seeker, blogger & certified BioNeuroEmotion® (BNE) practitioner who is passionate about growing, self actualising & learning in order to lead a more coherent/conscious life and help others do the same.