This past week I went to a training learning about neuroplasticity and particularly the power of the subconscious mind. And how our experiences, even the ones we can’t remember, create our perception of the world. But more importantly with the right skills, these perceptions are malleable. We can change for the better.
We are reacting to our past experiences all the time, both consciously and subconsciously. It’s what we do with these reactions that matters. It’s in the present moment where we have the opportunity for control.
This can be a little heavy so hang in there with me.
We meet people every day and we have first impressions — or so we think. What we have, in fact, are repetitive perceptions most of the time.
It’s why we meet people and there is something about them that instantly:
we don’t like
create feelings of being threatened
All life experiences are recorded by our subconscious mind and it is metaphoric. It sees the world in black and white, all or nothing. It can’t reason. That’s what our conscious mind is for.
The subconscious, among many other things, is tasked with our survival. And when it’s a matter of life and death we need and want this reaction to be quick and instant. But sometimes these automatic responses, that were useful in the past, get triggered erroneously in the present and we misjudge people based not on the reality, but the stored info from the past.
I was, accidentally, part of a beautiful example of this while at training.
It starts out rough but I promise it’s an amazing ending.
A gentleman that I had met only briefly invited me to run wind sprints with him one morning after hearing me share that I am a runner. This is not my area of expertise but I figured I should give it a shot. We had some good conversation and he pushed me to run hard. Later that morning at the seminar we were both attending, he offered a vulnerable story of how often what we think of as real impressions can be fallible and with some introspection we can differentiate who we are looking at in the present and what about the past is being triggered.
This guy I hardly knew shared that his first reaction to me was not positive. He thought I was a b%$^*
Keep in mind he was sharing this with me and about 58 other people for the first time. It’s difficult to be honest about our feelings with ourselves, much less in front of lots of other people.
He said that he had these stories in his head about who I was. And I think we can all relate to that. We react to the relatively superficial characteristics of someone and think we know them by how they talk, walk, what they wear.
But thanks to his willingness to look past his initial reaction and be curious, he decided instead to invite me to run to see if his reactions were true.
Turns out, we are now friends. There was something about me that reminded him of someone from his past. But when he was able to get clear about that, work through those issues, and be in the present moment, those triggers began to fade away.
It’s a real lesson in being vulnerable by sharing your truth, investigating the stories we tell ourselves all the time, and also being willing to be hurt, wrong or otherwise.
Much of our reactions in life are about survival, so let yourself off the hook for that. It’s what comes next that is your responsibility.
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G
Lowi & G