Who drives the better car?  The other day I saw some reading an article comparing the 4×4 performance of Landrover and Landcruiser.   He finished the article, nodded knowingly and handed it to his mate.   When he had finished he said “Well that is conclusive then, Landcruiser is a better 4×4 than Landrover”.   The first guy’s eyebrows shot up.  “No way” he says, “the article proves that Landrover is the best”.

Just another example of how we see what we want to see.

We see the world through filters.   From the start of our lives we have been developing constructs, or templates into which we try fit reality.   Our reticular activating system filters out any out-of-paradigm the information brought in by our senses to make sure we only become aware of what we already believe is true.   We then use these filters, to predict how situations will unfold.  We have literally learned how to see the world.

To manage our lives and to live effectively we need to understand these filters and how they affect what we perceive.

We are accountable for our lives.  We are therefore accountable for the filters we allow to operate.  If you can acknowledge your history, put aside your excuses and identify the filters through which you view the world, you can empower yourself to step beyond your current reality.

This may not be a trivial task.  Past traumas may deeply affect the way you see the world.  You may have suffered unspeakable tragedy.  This note is not in the slightest way intended to minimise your experience or the impact this has had on you.  However, you have a choice about how you wish to deal with the effects of that situation as it affects your life right now.

So what are these filters?  How can we go about recognising them?  Because these filters are so over-learnt we are usually no longer are aware of them.  This requires a reflective journey, keeping a log of the ebb and flow of thoughts and emotions in our day.  Set yourself up as researcher into your own life; your personal scientist. Instead of allowing life to wash over you and under the bridge, capture your thoughts. Write them down. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • What is my pet criticism of people?
  • Do I have a chip on my shoulder?
  • Am I naïve and blindly trusting.
  • Do I seek to honour arbitrary people at overwhelming cost to myself?
  • Am I over-controlling and hyper-cautious in any new meeting with people?
  • Do I fall apart at the first sign of stress?
  • Am I able to size up a situation and see the people around me and what they their agenda could be?
  • Is each crisis I face just one more disaster, confirming my ineptitude. Or is it “an opportunity to shine?

Our filters are most distorted when we view ourselves.  We are our own worst critics, easily glossing over our real faults, elevating our imagined ones to monster status and failing to see our special gifts.  So what faulty assumptions are you making that you have not tested?  What are your fixed beliefs?  What labels have you taken on for yourself?  Are you telling yourself any of the following:

  • I never come out on top.
  • The competition are going to beat me anyway.
  • If things are going well, they are just preparing for a failure soon.
  • I will never be able to change anything. I am stuck with my lot.
  • I cannot influence what is happening around me.
How do your rate each event?  By adopting a role of researcher into our own life, we can view each event as an experiment.  We can predict the way events will unfold.  We can also observe how events actually do unfold and use the feedback to update our filters.

Are you your own personal scientist?