Seeing is Believing – Right?
If you are like most people, you won’t believe something for certain until you see it, but what if your eyes are lying to you?
Have you ever had the experience of looking for something like your wallet or purse; you are searching and searching but can’t find it anywhere. You check and re-check everywhere you can think of but just can’t find it. Then, when you have given up you see it……. it was on the table all along. Isn’t that annoying!
So, what happened? Did someone sneak in and put it there when you weren’t looking? Maybe, if you have some gremlins! Otherwise, most likely, your brain did one of two things: it either hallucinated the table over the top of your wallet or purse (concealing it) or deleted it from your perception altogether. But, why would your brain do that? That sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
One reason it happens is because, on some level, you don’t expect to see it and all your brain does is prove you right by showing you what you expect to see. This kind of thing is happening all the time, mostly without you realising.
This may seem strange and go against how you normally think about your sight: You see with your eyes, not your brain- don’t you? Well, if you want to have an experience of what I am talking about or maybe just prove me wrong let’s do an experiment: Take a moment to look around the room now:
Notice how many times you can see the colour blue. Take 10 seconds to count.
Now, how many times did you see the colour brown? (Don’t cheat by looking!)
Did you even notice anything that was brown? Look around again and notice how many items of that colour you can see now. If you are like most people you wouldn’t have seen much brown the first time but many more the second time because of how you were directing your attention: Your mind deleted out the unnecessary information.
Further to that, in every moment of every day your brain is deleting so many things and deciding what you will become aware of at a conscious level. It has to do that, otherwise we would be so overrun with information that we would not be able to do much else except notice stuff; we would essentially be in a catatonic state and that wouldn’t be much fun.
To highlight this: A recent study was done by the University of Arizona; where they ran EEGs on people’s heads to test their ability to notice things in their visual field. Here is a short extract from their findings that the most interesting:
“The brain is deciding what you’re going to perceive, and it’s processing all of the information and then it’s determining what’s the best interpretation.”
“This is a window into what the brain is doing all the time,” Peterson said. “It’s always sifting through a variety of possibilities and finding the best interpretation for what’s out there. And the best interpretation may vary with the situation.”
“Our brains may have evolved to sift through the barrage of visual input in our eyes and identify those things that are most important for us to consciously perceive, such as a threat or resources such as food..”
Here is the full article if you want to read through it: http://uanews.org/story/ua-study-your-brain-sees-things-you-don-t
So, our brains process all the information that comes in and chooses what to bring to our awareness in any given moment. The rules that determine what is important will be based on survival and on the experiences we have had and the understandings we have developed throughout our lives e.g. An RAF combat pilot will have a very different level of awareness to their surroundings than a motorway commuter.
The study focused on sight, but the same process occurs for every one of our senses.
With so much information being kept from us, is it any wonder that so many misunderstandings and misconceptions occur?
What implications does this have for you?
If you are experiencing something that you don’t like and now know that maybe it is only one perspective, one way of experiencing it, and that there might be many other possibilities that you are not yet aware of; what difference does that make to you?
If you want to explore this further and have a deeper conversation, contact me here:
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