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My world is different to your world

Today, I wanted to share a concept that I think is both fascinating and transformational when you understand it fully. The concept is that we all have a different version of the world. Now to some people that might sound totally obvious, to others totally absurd (which somewhat proves my point!) but let me explain a little more.

Optical illusion - a picture that can be views as either a duck or a rabbit
What do you see? We all see things differently

I have talked before in this email about our Reticular Activating System (RAS) which is like a super clever filter which allows in information that our subconscious thinks is important and filters out information that our subconscious thinks isn't. It chooses what to filter in based on our past experiences, our beliefs, the way we talk to ourselves, the way we talk to others, the way other people talk to us and the things we focus on. And it does it at lightening speed without us ever realising it's going on. And then, just to really add a kick, our brain then distorts the information ever so slightly so that it makes sense based on our world view. Because humans like things to make sense.

I like to think of it like two people witnessing a crime. On paper, we might think they would both tell the same story about the crime. But we know, that in reality this isn't the case. In fact, witnesses are notoriously unreliable because they only filter in particular information based on what their subconscious thinks is important. So a person who has previously been a victim of crime might filter in information that was particularly important to them when they were a victim. A person who has racial biases might distort the information they receive in order for what they witnessed to make sense based on their beliefs.

And the thing is that this isn't only true of the big things like witnessing crimes, it's true of all things. When two people sit in the same room they notice different things. When two people are given the same feedback they interpret it in different ways. When two people walk along the same street at the same time they have totally different experiences.

Once we know this, it has a few huge benefits. Firstly it supercharges our empathy and compassion for other people. Because if we all see the world in different ways, then by default the world must exist in shades of grey and it is always possible to at least have empathy with where another person is coming from.

Secondly, once we know this, the next step is to know that we can change the way we filter that information. And that is part of my role as a coach. To challenge people to question their beliefs. To ask them to reframe their past experiences. To actively pay attention to things we focus on so that we can train the brain to focus on things we want it to see - we can do this through gratitude practices, journalling, affirmations and more. And by doing these things, we are able to change our filter and therefore, our version of the world.

So ask yourself, is the way you see the world right now working for you? Are you fulfilled and happy? If not, perhaps you could do with changing the filter.

Your Homework Write a gratitude journal One really effective way of changing the way you see the world is to change the things you focus on. And a really effective way to do that is to practice gratitude every day. Gratitude, like joy, multiplies. The more you notice the things that you are grateful for, the more things you notice to be grateful for! So every morning start your day by writing down three things that you're grateful for. It might be your family, your warm bed, the view from your bedroom window. It might be your health, your home or something you're excited about that day. It doesn't have to be something big, just something. Then in the evening, end your day by writing down three great things that happened in your day. Three things that brought you joy. By doing this on a daily basis you are retraining your brain. Telling your RAS that gratitude and joy are important to you. Reprogramming the filter. This is one of the simplest, lowest commitment ways there is to start to change the pathways in your brain and start to see the world in a different way.

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