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THE WORLD YOU DON’T SEE

THE WORLD YOU DON’T SEE

A lot of Un-Seeing is about developing a different way of seeing your world.  In this video of a TEDx talk at the University of Illinois, Daniel Simons who is the head of the Visual Cognition Laboratory at the University of Illinois explains that what we think we see is not necessarily so.  He touches on how what we see affects the way we think.

GETTING NEW EYES

One way to help yourself grow away from your habitual, same-old habits of thought is to expose yourself to the ridiculous, the radical, the unfamiliar and the surprising.  Any of these can help shake your set mind loose…you are more open to exploring when you are facing something for the first time.

Just for fun, check out this video, Let’s Look At the World a Little Differently by Jing Ling (2012)  It shows events captured by security cameras around the world that are not horrifying or scary-making.  Could something like that change your idea of the world as it is?  Think about it….

TRAVELING PROMOTES NEW EYES

Many books on developing your own creativity tell you to make a point of trying a new thing:  take a different route to work, have a conversation with a new neighbor, see a movie you would never watch normally…anything to break up the patterns.

This way of mind-bending has always been the classic argument for the value of traveling to new and different places.  When you’re a stranger in a strange land and you are looking at things you have never seen before, it’s likely that the strangeness will trigger in you other ways of thinking.

For the last thirty years, journalist Rick Steves (a marvelous storyteller) spent four months every year traveling all over the world.  He lays out how it enriched his life and how it helped him become braver, “Fear is for people who don’t get out very much,” he says in this TedX Rainer talk.

DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN

I’m not sure WHO started all of these 30-day challenges, but they are certainly getting ubiquitous.  You can 30-day challenge your way to any new habit or skillful means, it seems – everything from a better diet, a new exercise regimen, a new way of thinking, or anything else that is subject to change.

Repetition promotes new habits and new patterns of thinking, it is said.  How would trying something new every day change up your ways of thinking?

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

It’s a lot harder to work on approaching the familiar as if you are looking at it for the first time, seeing the strange in the ordinary and the everyday, or seeing connections that are currently obscured by the assumptions you’ve already made or the ways you’ve already been taught to see things.

You need to get some Outsider eyes.  Ask yourself:  How would anything in your life look to someone who has never seen it before?

I grew up in Hawaii.  For the first seven years of my life, I was living in a different country that was owned by America as a “territory.”  It seems we do things a bit differently than the folks who grew up in Middle America.  It has been an eye-opener for me.

Nowadays we have all kinds of people flying in to check out the beauty of this place.  They come with their own attitudes and their own set-points about what is “right” or “wrong” or “true” or “false.”  Often they do not see what we see and talking to them helps me see our local “realities” from a different point of view.

hawaiian-767
Hawaiian 767 by Simon Clancy [CC BY 2.0]
Talking to our visitors and newcomers (and even to the relatives and friends who have gone away to live in other places) helps us who have never left understand other perspectives and other people’s world-views, it seems to me.

LIVING IN DIFFERENT WORLDS (IN THE SAME PLACE)

Some of the many visitors to the Hawaiian islands come to live here with us.  Some of them actually acclimate to our way of doing things.  They “go native,” reveling in the many layers of our island society’s culture and the richness of our many-faceted worlds.

Other newcomers hang together in their own enclaves and pretty much try to live the life they always lived when they were living somewhere else.  They spend a lot of time making comparisons and finding a lot of what is here unsatisfactory.

Still others end up disillusioned because this much-touted substitute for “Paradise” is not what they thought it should be.

Hawaii is a place made up of realities and dreams, just like every place else.  What you believe is what you will see.  It makes this place particularly instructive to those who are trying to find new eyes, I think. I know the ones who grew up here are also always getting surprises and lessons about living as well.

Here’s another poem….


TO A STRANGER LOOKING FOR PARADISE

Island welcomes you when you come.

The gate is always open.

It is open when you come;

When you leave, it is open.

 

‘As how…

 

But, if…if you really want to be a part

Of this Paradise you keep hearing about,

Talking about, thinking about,

Here’s your first lesson:

 

Be Island.

Whatever you are given, accept gratefully.

Whatever you can give, give graciously.

Be who you are, gracefully.

 

That’s Island.

People smile if you smile; people laugh if you laugh.

If you cry, they will hug you.

If you hurt, they will comfort you.

 

Boast and they turn away, embarrassed for you.

Show angry and they walk away,

Or return anger for anger.

That’s Island.

 

If you are real, Island is real.

If you play games, Island plays harder games.

If you wear masks, Island becomes illusion –

Sometimes a pretty dream, and sometimes a nightmare.

 

‘As how.

Island is not how much money you have,

Or how many fine things.

Island is appreciating who you are, how other people are, and where you are.

 

‘As how.

You will be tested:  There will always be lessons,

There will always be tests.

Doesn’t matter how long you stay.

 

That’s Island.

People have been burned by strangers over and over.

They wait, they watch, they see if you can handle squirming, dodging obstacles…

If you will keep going, as they do.

 

‘As how.

They know:  Island is a cruel, cruel lover.

Her hands, full of fruits and flowers, hide clubs and spears.

She asks for total surrender; she only wants all you’ve got….

 

That’s Island….

If you take and take and take, Island shuts down to you.

Doesn’t matter if you are rich or smart.

Doesn’t matter if you are a “person of consequence.”

 

Island will not be with you and in you and of you.

You can live here fifty years,

And STILL you will not be Island.

‘As how….

 

So, if you want Paradise, if THAT is your dream,

Know there is a price you will have to pay.

Know that the price is all of who you are and what you are.

That’s Island….

 

Also know that when you have paid it

And keep on paying it, paying it, paying it,

Island opens to you and the dream becomes real….

That’s Island.

 

Here is the key…

You can use it if you like:

There is only one gate to Paradise.

It is inside of you.

 

‘As how….

by Netta Kanoho

[A friend of mine once told me it is a Molokai thing, the phrase, ‘as how….  It encompasses the concept “that-is-the-way-it-is,” but it’s also more than that.  It is a deep understanding, tolerance, and acceptance of human nature and all its faults, for the world as it is and all its vagaries, and for the Mystery – the mana and the Spirit — that is at the heart of living.] 


Picture credit: Vanity Eyes by Ikon (Grazla Horwitz) via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

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UN-SEEING: Old Patterns

UN-SEEING: Old Patterns

How many times have you heard the same old story from different mouths?  How often have you encountered situations that feel like the same-old ones over and over again?

SEEING THE TELLS

gambler
“Gambler” by Gil via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Gamblers and scammers call them “tells.”  They say these situations and those moves are the signs that something or other will probably go wonky or has already gone aglay.  Often the “tells” do work because most people are not that different from each other.  We all react similarly to many everyday situations we might encounter.

So you jump one way or maybe another, and then you discover that you were wrong in the assumptions that you made.  Your feelings are leading you down some old road that you know is a dead end.

What you thought was happening is not even close to the real.  Because of the old stories that you’ve lived, you’ve attributed motives or agendas to other people that are just not so.

But, because of your erroneous reading of a situation, you have shaped this latest encounter into yet another iteration of your old story, the one that has happened before, the one you see happening again.

And things do go wonky in exactly the same way they did the last four or five times you’ve done this dance.  The players in this new game are different.  The circumstances are similar enough, but they are not the same.  Somehow, you are getting sucked into the same crummy story again and you’re making the same old moves again that you know are not going to work.

STOP, LISTEN, FEEL

If you will stop and look at your reactions to the various situations you encounter that you invariably handle badly, it’s likely you’ll be able to see the emotions and the assumptions you are carrying that encourage the same dilemmas to develop that you find hard to resolve.  These stories keep happening in your life over and over again for a reason.  Maybe that reason is you.

Your old emotions and assumptions color how you see any situation.  They are filters that you look through, like colored glasses that cover your mind’s eye.

When you find yourself “recognizing” the start of yet another junk old story, it could be that you are really looking through the filters you’ve developed over time that are affecting how you are looking at the situation you are facing.  Maybe what you are seeing is not what is really there.

ASKING THE HARD QUESTIONS

If you do not like where your old filters have taken you before, if you’d like to see a different ending to the same old story, it may be time to question HOW you are looking at this new situation.

Questions you might like to ponder are these:

  1. Are these emotions I am feeling and these assumptions I am holding valid?  Are they appropriate?
  2. Are the reactions that my feelings and my assumptions produce in the other people in this game helpful     in solving this problem we are having?
  3. If not, then what other emotions and assumptions might I want to explore with these other people instead?
  4. What reactions would those new emotions and assumptions engender?

Questioning your default settings is a valuable exercise that may produce other, new-to-you ways of seeing.  In order to explore these new thoughts, however, you will have to let go of your old way of standing.  This is a very hard thing to do.

whose-brain-is-bigger
“Whose Brain Is Bigger???” by Craig Dyke via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Your old dinosaur-brain is sitting there telling you that danger threatens and you’ve got to fight or run if you can’t win.  Dinosaurs probably were not so good at sitting around thinking through things and talking things over.  Mostly they stomped the other guy or they ran like hell.  (There aren’t too many dinosaurs around any more.)

Challenging your habitual reactions to a situation can produce more interesting ideas.  What has to happen, though, is you have to question your old assumptions and challenge yourself and your set patterns.

These old patterns are powerful.  You will have to challenge that power.  They are authoritative, perhaps distilled from years of experience.  You will have to challenge that authority.

Your motivations when your old dinosaur-brain is in charge are all about keeping yourself from getting hurt.  That old brain turns everything into life-and-death and do-or-die.  It’s really good at running panic scenarios in your head.  You have to challenge those old stories and look for a new perspective:  What if this situation isn’t life-and-death?  What if nobody has to die?

Deconstructing your core beliefs helps you see what’s under there and what makes you fight or run.  It’s a hard thing to do because you’re revisiting old thoughts that make hard-to-break loops in your head and then there’s the panic that rises up whenever the loops start happening.   It is not a fun place to be.

TALK TO THE HAND

Talk to the Hand by Bruce Denis via Flickr [CC BY-ND-NC 2.0]
Talk to the Hand by Bruce Denis via Flickr [CC BY-ND-NC 2.0]
One great way to challenge your calcified old thought-patterns is to write out your thoughts with your non-dominant hand.  (If you’re right-handed, use your left hand to write about some thought pattern you are challenging.  If you’re left-handed, use your right hand.  If you’re ambidextrous, maybe you have to try doing mirror-writing like Leonardo da Vinci.)

Getting your thoughts down on paper helps you see whether your thoughts are actually a true reading of the situation you are facing.  Maybe this situation is just bringing up leftover feelings and old fossils of assumptions you’ve made about the world instead.

Doing this exercise and examining what is happening inside you is like being a football player watching old videos of the football plays your team made in other games.

  1. What moves worked in your past stories?  Which did not?
  2. How is this situation similar to past ones?  How is it different?
  3. Did you like the results you got on your last go-’round?
  4. If not, how could you do it different this time?

The process does take time.  You’re going back over old trails and trying to find a starting place to make a new trail.  It is not easy.

MAKE A POEM

My own last step is to put aside all the thoughts I’ve written down with my non-dominant hand.  I sleep on them.  Just before I fall asleep I ask myself, “What is happening here?”  When I wake up, I make a poem that helps to make some kind of sense about what I am thinking and feeling and doing in a situation that confuses me.

When I do that, the way often gets clearer.  I can see what is going on in my world and sometimes I can find a better way to deal with it that doesn’t start another round of the same-old.  It is a very good thing….

Making that poem is optional.  However, the steps for getting to the point where you’re ready to entertain new thoughts is not.

ONE MORE TAKE

maui-sunrise-wailea
Maui Sunrise – Wailea by slack12 via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Another take on meeting these challenges and dealing with life-situations is embedded in this IPS (Inner Peace Symptom)….

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an understanding that you have to DO your way back to feeling.  [Challenges that obstruct you help to deepen your convictions if you continue to work your way around them, over them, under them and through them.  It’s a good thing.]

Here’s another poem:


WIDE AND DEEP

 There really is a difference

‘Tween going wide and going deep.

You have to learn which one to do, when,

If you’re ever going to get some sleep.

 

Wide takes you wandering

Tasting this, touching that,

It opens up your heart.

It makes you grab your hat.

 

The noise and the sparkle piles on up

And sends you spinning round and round

It makes you mad and dizzy

And you can lose touch with the ground.

 

You fly, you dream, you crash, you burn.

You wonder what, why, who and how

As you hoist yourself up by the seat of your pants

And try for yet another wow.

 

Deep can drill you right into the ground,

Or send you over the edge, all willing,

Ready to free-dive through the void

Even though the temperature’s chilling.

 

Wide’s the way to do the whirl,

To grab for gusto, shoot the curl.

It’s the baby dragon dance, and as you soar

(Before you crash), the wondrous world will unfurl.

 

If you go deep, the universe dances

And the lights in Indra’s Net flash and flare,

Responding to the moves you’re making

As you dive into the Everywhere.

 

You need them both, these strategies,

The wise guys always say,

If you learn to do them well,

They promise you can play.

 

But, be warned, my friend,

It never ends and it never comes for free.

Expect to get smashed, get shucked and jived,

Expect to wander, lost at sea.

 

And after all that…

After all of all of that,

Maybe, just maybe, you’ll get some

Small inkling ’bout where it’s all at.

By Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Himalayan Hills, Nepal by Michael Foley via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

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