You may think you are seeing your whole reality, but your brain is subconsciously choosing for you what you want to see. Infinite amount of data bombards us, then our brain evaluates for us what data to ignore and what to focus on. In other words, the phrase ‘creating your reality’ isn’t just some new age mantra. It’s a factual statement about human perception. This means that the reality you choose to live is made up of a sequence of your chosen perceptions; and what you don’t notice gets left behind in the dust.
One analogy I find very helpful is getting dressed in the morning.
Imagine waking up in the morning and doing your normal morning routine. You pull on a pair of pants. At first you start to notice the fabric against your body. It might feel soft or cool, or even a little scratchy. Even if you are preoccupied with something else, odds are you will notice the pants and the fact that they are on. This awareness will probably occur for about 3 or 4 seconds, tops.
Then you will mentally move on, right? Because unless the pants are on fire, once you identify the material and acknowledge that you are now indeed wearing clothes, your mind is basically going to decide to forget about your pants for the rest of the day. You don’t need to keep acknowledging the fact that you’re wearing them, so you don’t. It’s time for your brain to move onto more important things.
Now, generally speaking, this is a good thing, brain-wise. Your mind takes in data; “does its thing” with that data. If we were going around thinking about our pants all day, we wouldn’t get very much done. If you continued to acknowledge, “Yep. My pants are on!” you would notice how the material felt against your legs all the time. This would be an extremely distracting and time wasting task at best.
The brain’s processing power is limited
You can process a limited number of data at a given time. Mere sensual data would weigh you down all the time if you didn’t filter it out somehow. It makes sense to clear your conscious mind of your pants once they’re on and zipped up.
But, in the end, everything is like the pants. A strange idea, I know, but that’s how it works: Your mind takes in data, deals with it, prioritizes it, and then often pushes it out of your conscious awareness to make room for something more critical.
Automated tasks are well and good but here is the kicker, what happens when we stop noticing the things that make us uncomfortable? Things that might be warning signs or signals that give us direction?
Back to the pants…
What if those pants aren’t the right pants? What if they are little too short, or a little too long, or a little too tight, or a little too loose, and you really shouldn’t be wearing them at all? What if they used to be your favorite pants, but you have outgrown them in some way?
The only time you are going to notice that the pants don’t fit and then proceed to act on that feeling is actually when you put them on. If you didn’t notice then that they were making you uncomfortable, and immediately change out of them when they had your attention in the first place, ultimately you are just going to stop consciously noticing the discomfort all day long. You’ll live with them and that feeling. You may not realize that they are the reason why you feel cranky or uncomfortable. You could blame your mood on something totally different, when in reality the pants aren’t working out for you anymore.
When we choose to keep the pants on rather than change them, when we notice the problem is what gets us stuck. We decide to ignore or adapt to the slight discomfort, just like we do in many other things in our lives. Our brains take that input and help us to stop noticing the uneasiness we feel, so we learn to live with those uncomfortable pants. Though, there are times when this approach can be a good thing. But if this attitude takes over, and those uncomfortable feelings pile up, sooner or later we will feel numb and zoned out to our realities. We become unaware of our own feelings and our environment.
What to do if you are stuck
You need to look at all the data you are taking in consciously and unconsciously and what you are doing with it. You need to become aware – calmly and objectively – of all that is in your internal and external environment. That awareness will give you the information, which guides you to get yourself unstuck.
I had a typical experience of the power of this on a conference call not long ago. I shared my excitement about being here in Budapest and the next person said, “I was just wondering when Drew is going to shut up and stop bragging.” Ouch! I was a little taken back. Okay, I was stunned. I had been sharing about my life here in Budapest and the opportunity to tap into the amazingly talented Hungarian people. I thought I was sharing my excitement however at least one person felt I was bragging.
My first reaction was to pull away, but instead I stayed calm and payed attention. I noticed that pulling away was my usual reaction when I face these type of situations. I feel fine if I’m misunderstood and have the chance to clarify what I said and leave people with what I meant to express. But when it feels like a personal attack, that is a whole other story.
However, when I recalled other situations where my choice has been to retreat, I realized that I might have missed out on some good opportunities. That’s when I realized that the comment might not have anything to do with me. I know we like to think everything is about us. But the truth is that it’s not, we don’t have control over how another person reacts. And as much as we would like to blame other people for how we react, they are not to blame.
With this newfound awareness, I was able to create a different way to respond rather than pulling away. And the interesting thing is that later the same person shared with me that he was jealous, and that’s why he said what he said. It didn’t have anything to do with me.
Get your pants on and do this exercise
With all this talk about pants, this exercise calls for you to find that one item of clothing that you’ve avoided throwing out. That’s right, I’m calling you out! I think we’re all vain enough to keep holding on to that one great pair of pants that doesn’t fit anymore. I know I have a pair. So go into your closet and slip (yank?) those babies on. Now either you’re looking at yourself in the mirror thinking you never looked better or you’re feeling uncomfortable and awkward, right?
Well, if you’re feeling uncomfortable, keep that feeling in mind and think about your business. Is there some place in your business where this feeling of ‘not right’ comes up? You might not have even realized that you’ve been feeling uncomfortable. You may have just tuned out those feelings or thought it better to suck it up than to address the issue. You’re ignoring the problem to the point where you’ve become numb to it, but it’s still bothering you and undermining your energy and your efforts.
If nothing pops up immediately, keep thinking about it. Start by thinking of your purpose, values and what’s important to you. Are you and those things being fulfilled? Or the reason might be that you’ve adapted to feeling unsatisfied?
Your business ‘pants’ problems can come from a number of things. The reason could be the people you’ve been working with or the fact that you’re doing things you’re not good at. Or it could be that you lately tend to procrastinate more or you work reactively rather than proactively. Focus your attention on areas of vague discomfort in your business. Don’t let yourself get distracted.
Be brave and get to the realization that it’s time to throw those pants out and buy a new pair. Or maybe you need to take a different action like hitting the gym so you can fit into them again! Either way, make a plan to focus on that discomfort now, not later. In the future, as you increase living fully in the present moment, your awareness will help you catch that discomfort earlier. Make it a habit to address the issues as soon as you start feeling uncomfortable – and watch how much more energy and enthusiasm you have.
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