What if we had it all wrong?

What if we had it all wrong? What if our lives are not created by our external circumstances, but by our thoughts, perceptions and emotions? What if we only see the world in the color of our thinking? What if we could transform our lives for the better by only changing our thoughts, perceptions and emotions and nothing else. Wouldn’t it be the greatest gift in the world?

The reality paradox

We think everything is happening in the outside world. But if we look closer, everything is happening inside of us. We capture and process information with our 5 senses: we see, we hear, we touch, we taste, and we smell. On the molecular level, those are all vibrations of molecules, vibrating at different frequencies. Nothing is solid, still our brain makes us experience the world as solid. So, the whole process of interpretation of the world (seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling) is actually happening inside us. The outside world is built in our brain. That makes it a highly subjective experience.

Your experience is subjective

So, we see the world through a subjective lens, influenced by our believes, our moods, our upbringing, our family, our race, our gender, our age, … . Everybody experiences the world very different: what is true for you is not necessarily true for another person. So, be cautious with judging other people. What if you would grow up in the same conditions as the person you are judging, wouldn’t you display the same behavior or have the same worldview?

The collective experience

So many people believe they understand the world, they know how it works. And indeed, science made big leaps forward: we know a lot more than in the past. But if we look at history, it teaches us to be humble. Not so long ago we thought the earth was flat, but now we know that the earth is round. That’s an example of a paradigm shift: “a fundamental change in the basic concepts and experimental practices of a scientific discipline“. When you think about it, even nowadays, probably there is still so much we don’t know and understand.

Knowing that we don’t know is humility; thinking that we know what we don’t know, is sickness. ― Laozi

Look at the state of the world and it’s obvious we are missing the bigger picture. It’ my believe that there are many more paradigm shifts to come and they will be happening more rapidly than ever.

Your thoughts are not real

Your thoughts are not a trustworthy source of information about the outside world. Thoughts come and go, like clouds in the sky. There is no point in trying to “work them out” and you don’t need to do anything with them. For example, you can try to analyze why your colleague was rude to you today. And you can think about ways of handling that tomorrow. Or you can realize there is no point in that, and you will probably never know. By not engaging with that thought, it will eventually disappear, and you will not have spent the evening in a negative thought loop.

Thoughts have no objective truth in them, they are always colored by your mind. For example: “you can experience stress”, or “you can have a lot of work”. “Experiencing stress” is an understanding of reality that creates suffering, while “having a lot of work” is an understanding that doesn’t create that suffering.

By not automatically following your thoughts, you become freer.

How did it help me?

I won’t pretend this is an easy journey. You don’t get a warning before you go step into the rollercoaster of thoughts. But sometimes, I do find a space between me and my thoughts. And by observing my thoughts and knowing that they are subjective, I don’t automatically act upon them. So, I’m in full control about my actions and, ultimately, I create freedom for myself.

We are free to choose our actions, … but we are not free to choose the consequences of these actions. ― Stephen R. Covey

And sometimes, I don’t see it. Only later I realize how caught up I was in my thinking. And that it had not much to do with reality. But that’s okay too.

For example: when I’m in traffic I get upset a lot. I consider myself a good driver and I can quickly analyze traffic situations. Somehow, I expect the same from other drivers. I even get really annoyed, and even mad from other drivers who, in my opinion, drive slow, inefficient or who don’t follow the rules. Sometimes I see how silly I am, and I start laughing with myself. Other times, I end up being annoyed or mad for a while. That whole time I create my own suffering, while the other driver has probably long forgotten me…

So how can it help you?

The more you become aware of the inside out experience, the less you will be a victim of your own thinking, and the more freedom you will experience in your life.