In, “Your Hidden Censor: What Your Mind Will Not Let You See,” Scientific American explores the idea that, when we focus on one thing, we exclude others. In other words, there are gazillions of pieces of information hitting our senses every second but we only notice a few.
Of course, in the fields of hypnosis and NLP, we’ve known that for a long time.
“Noticing” can be thought of as conscious awareness. But just because something doesn’t come up into our conscious awareness, doesn’t mean we don’t notice it on some level.
How Does Our Mind Decide What’s Important Enough To Bring To Our Conscious Attention?
The main factors are…
- Emotional content
- Current beliefs
So, the more emotional an event is, the more likely we are to consciously pay attention to it. And the more something agrees with what we already believe, the more we are likely to notice it.
Why That Makes Sense
When you think about it, that makes sense. If you lived thousands of years ago, highly emotional events would be those that were most directly related to your survival. For instance, if you saw another person attacked by a wild animal, it would be both emotional and important for your survival to notice everything you could about that event!
And it makes sense to make current beliefs the default for bringing things up to conscious awareness. Again, if we lived thousands of years ago, we’d probably believe that saber-tooth tigers live on the ground, not in the clouds. In that case, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend a lot of brain processing power scanning the clouds for tigers.
We’d be more likely to pay attention to tiger clues on the ground.
What Would It Take To Change Our Minds?
One tiger attack from the clouds would do it. That would be a highly emotional event that would change the way we thought!
Why Is This Important
A quote from the article…
“The idea of selective selectivity means that the unconscious mind may be shaping our experience even more dynamically than previously thought, screening what we see based on goals and emotions.”
The unconscious mind is not only participating in “dynamically shaping our experience,” it’s the main factor in shaping our experience.
So, if we have a belief that money is hard to come by, we simply won’t perceive opportunities that would lead to money being easy to get. If we have a belief that relationships always end badly, that’s what we’ll see in the world and likely manifest in our own lives.
In short, believing is seeing (and hearing and feeling).
Also, none of us see the world as it is, we see it as we believe it to be. And that can be just fine and dandy where everything is going along well. But in areas where things aren’t working out well for us, there may be a problem…
What To Do?
Here’s my advice.
As a human being…
- Recognize that what you believe is not what is.
- Be open to being wrong and changing your beliefs.
- It can be useful to look at beliefs from a standpoint of whether or not they’re helping you accomplish a goal.
As a hypnotist/NLPer
- Recognize that many of the people that come to you will have a belief that is getting in the way of accomplishing their goal.
- Realize that one of the prime ways you can help people is to help them change their belief related to that goal.
- Become skilled at helping people change beliefs, whether it be with sleight-of-mouth patterns or a more ritualized belief change pattern.