Reality is all in Your Head
The image above is only partly a joke.
The “point,” the place where reality exists (for you!), is somewhere within your skull. That was the meaning of last week’s “orange” exercise, and the irony extended to the title of last week’s article “Mind-full of Oranges.” It’s the only place an orange, or anything else, can exist.
In a sense (he says with a smirk,) the whole of the universe is contained between your ears.
Optical illusion games demonstrate the unreliability of (or better, how easy it is to fool) our senses.
Things, as they say, are not as they appear. They are as I choose to see them.
One of the reasons the initial “The Matrix” movie was so successful is that it’s premise — that it was possible to create a faux world, and without “waking up”, it was impossible to detect - is actually reality.
We can only pretend that the 2 things that seem the most obvious are verifiably real:
1) that there is an external and verifiable outside world, and
2) that there is any similarity at all between the world I perceive and the world you perceive.
This is especially so with concepts, but also exists in terms of the things we think we see, “out there.” For example, when you pick something up, you think you are feeling the object, when in actuality, all of the “stuff” is happening inside of you. You do not feel the object — you “feel” your hand!
One of the odd things clients often want is what I call agreement/permission.
They want someone else to validate their experience (despite the fact that no-one can actually validate their own…)
They are frozen in place, waiting for someone to do something. Usually, it’s rescue them from their self-created messes, but it can also be that they simply want assurances in advance. The assurance might be that something will succeed before it’s started (a relationship, child raising, a business, a divorce, etc.) Or, that the person who is waiting is good, or bad, or indifferent.
Yes, there are some folk out there that think they are failures, or bad people, or weak, and they want others to confirm this. You might wonder why.
If I think I am incapable, and others also tell me that, indeed I am incompetent, then I am freed from acting. I can continue to feel bad, although with the “assurance” that I’m “really” a loser, and therefore somehow off the hook.
Off the hook, indeed.
The realm of judgements is equally strewn with mines. We feel tension in our bodies, and our minds scream (or whisper!) “That’s not right! And… it’s all your fault!” As opposed to, “Hmm. I’m feeling tight and my anxiety thoughts are increasing. I wonder why I am choosing this?”
I once worked with a couple. He was doing quite well learning the communication model, and she could get through it, with difficulty. Then she said to her partner, Dick, “I want you to help me with this. Point out when I’m not doing it right, correct me. I need your support with this, because I can’t do it on my own.”
Initially, he accepted, as this seemed to be the chivalrous thing to do. Over time, however, the communication between them remained the same — he used the Model, she yelled, finger-pointed, blamed. I was new at the therapy game, so it took me a couple of weeks to figure it out.
I said, “Sally, you don’t seem to be using the model much at all, anymore. Why are you choosing not to use it?”
Sally: “It’s Dick’s fault. He’s doing a lousy job of reminding me to use it.”
Me: “Oh. I get it! You had no intention of using the model.”
Sally: “I was going to use it, but it’s his job to make me.”
Me: “Hmm. Perfect! If you choose to do it, great, and if you make a mistake, it’s Dick’s fault!”
Sally: (Glaring at me) “He agreed… so yes, it’s his fault!
This passes for communication. I call it ducking responsibility for your life.
All too common — set up someone around you to take the blame for your inability to choose to do something.
You are responsible for you — from your head to your toes, that’s all about you
Within a relationship (and in all of life!), each party is solely and completely responsible for their side of things — what Sally feels and thinks is all about her, not about Dick. Nor is it his job to keep Sally on track — that’s her job. His job is to do what he says he will do, in this case, communicate using the Model.
Now, this is not to say that other people do not make mistakes, do not blame, do not get angry.
It is to say that everything going on in my life was caused by, and set in motion by me, including my thoughts that others are to blame, or that others should somehow be responsible for me. The key, then, to self responsibility is taking 100% ownership of our thoughts, feelings, and actions, while at the same time remembering that we don’t know much for sure.
It is quite immature for adults to stomp their little feetsies, and say, “I don’t understand, I don’t believe it, and I’m not listening to another word!”
Such an odd thing. People are stuck in a pile of shit, and insist that
a) it appeared by magic,
b) they had nothing to do with their being in it,
c) someone else is to blame,
d) someone else should dig them out, and
e) they don’t want to even consider how they got into the pile in the first place (as they place their fingers in their ears, and start humming.)
If I assume that what I know is provisional and incomplete (what Zen calls Beginner’s Mind…) then life actually becomes kind of simple. If I am standing in roses I can enjoy it, then move on. If I am standing in shit, I can extricate myself, and then devise a way to not end up there again.
The entire universe is going on right in your head. You are creating everything through the stories you tell, and experiencing everything as you choose to. Your experience, your feelings, your thoughts, all are you — you are choosing out of many, many options, those specific things. If I have Beginner’s Mind, I can start again, and pick some other way.
Darbella and I just finished our first Injured Worker’s Group, and there was much success — the participants learned to deal with their pain in another way. In other words, rather than seeing themselves as victims of their pain, they found a way to accept it and move gently around it. Yes, I did say “accept,” as in, “Here is where I am, right now. This is me, injured. Wishing it were different accomplishes nothing. So, let me start here, and approach this in a new way.”
Here’s a quote from one of the participants:
[This group was] surprisingly helpful. I went in with an open mind, (“I’ll try anything once”), but I really didn’t expect much out of it. My source of pain is nerve related, so I can not be sure if my pain has actually decreased or its just the natural fluctuations. However, my suffering has definitely been reduced by a surprising amount. Somehow, Wayne and Dar have managed to alter my entire outlook on life in eight short weeks. Absolutely amazing, considering that I have always seen myself as having a reasonably good handle on myself and my life. I think this is mostly due to the open and flexible nature of how they teach. Everyone’s pain has been caused by separate injuries and a rigid course would help some I am sure but could also hurt others if their individual needs were not acknowledged. Allowing the participants “to “pick and choose” how much,how far to go and even what exercises to use makes this course uniquely flexible and appropriate for everyone,of all ages regardless of what the pain source is. This course has been possibly the best thing that has happened in my world since the day I hurt myself at work 2 years ago.
Time to own your own experience (all of it) and then to make other choices.