We do all to a certain extent choose our realities, because the way in which we interpret experience informs how we think and feel about it. While there are limits on how much we can change our reality by thinking about it (I am so not a chaos magician) the scope for difference is vast. No amount of positive thinking would turn this awkward body into a ballerina, but the ability to imagine I could be graceful would make the difference between dancing and not dancing.
We make theories about life based on experience. It is entirely possible to draw fairly reasonable conclusions that are entirely wrong. We try to find meaning in what happens to us, and that’s a very subjective process. Where we place the power in those judgements makes worlds of difference. Do I see an event of proof of failure and that I am therefore a failure? Do I see it is bad luck and worth another try? Do I see someone else as responsible for thwarting me? Get that wrong and I can start to build a reality that will get me into trouble. Believe I am thwarted and I might start feeding a paranoid persecution complex.
Sometimes, when a wonky reality is really embedded, the only way forward is to break. Sometimes there can be no tidy dismantling of the messy thinking. If your whole reality is a mess, based on dubious premises, then letting go of it will, for a while at least feel like madness. This is a huge incentive not to let go. Sometimes the road to sanity and health does require us to go a bit nuts first. I’ve been through some of this, needing to shift from a belief that I entirely deserved everything that had gone wrong for me. Holding everyone else blameless, I had carried guilt and feelings of being an absolute failure. For them to be right, and ok, I must be so awful that I barely qualified as a proper person. More like a straw doll. Changing that was quite a traumatic process, and it has redefined a significant number of relationships.
It doesn’t always have to be that dramatic. The process described above was one I had little conscious control over. My life and mind fell apart, there was nothing to do but work through that. However, choosing to dismantle a wonky reality, can be approached slowly and a bit more gently. We can set out to change our own thinking, and do that by changing what we do, or the spaces we move in. We are shaped by our environments, by the people we associate with, the things we do, or do not do, and small or modest shifts there can have considerable effects.
I’ve been working this year on changing my relationship with my body, and how I relate to people physically. Initially I thought that would just be about learning to do some things differently, but it is changing my thinking so that I can now see how my thinking needs to change in order to progress. At the moment I’m just trying to unpick what it is that I think and feel, because in understanding that, I might be able to make some conscious changes, or plan some experiments to help me find other perspectives.
Holding together all questions of reality, is that huge issue of “who am I?” Working out what of our experiences are a reflection of self, and defining of who we are. Working out what is just ‘stuff that happened’ and should not be taken personally. How much of that is choice? Do we simply become the bits of our life experience that we choose to internalise? If that’s the case, there is a lot of scope for choosing, and for shifting our realities.
July 4th, 2014 at 6:49 pm
Thank you for the lovely thoughts that I’ve seen very few people tackle. I’ve always needed to have tangible signs of certain reality breaks — or break-throughs! This entire summer here is one of those breaks and it is being made tangible by the gradual destruction of old decor, the refinishing of old furniture, the painting of old walls, the elimination of old attitudes, old hurts, old ‘stuff’ no longer necessary as props to a way that has been changed.
It is so nice to know that I am not alone in acknowledging the breakings — so needed to enable the rebuilding.
July 6th, 2014 at 9:27 am
Very thoughtful and thought-provoking . . . this is the second post this morning,by two different bloggers, that has seemed aimed at me. or more kindly speaks to the particulars of my current situation. I will have to find a quiet place to digest all these ‘messages’ . . . and in case you might get concerned, I am grateful to the messengers! Thank you.