What Do You See?
What do you see?
If you'd like to play along, before we continue, you can write a short statement about your observations
Looking at what you've written, how much of your statement can you say is absolutely true? Would anyone looking at the picture see it the same way? If you've ever compared notes with a friend at an art gallery or after watching a film, you'll know that our observations can be vastly different. Our past experiences, current priorities and mood on the day all inform our judgments and opinions but we also see the 'facts' through the filter of our personal thinking.
Perhaps you saw a man biting a lemon, or someone exaggerating the act of tasting something sower. Perhaps you have already created a story about what he's up to and why, perhaps he reminds you of someone, you have remembered a time when you had a similar experience or imagined biting into a lemon yourself. Are you aware of all your thinking about this? You might find some is going on 'behind the scenes' and you'll only become aware of it later.
With your thoughts about the picture come feelings, complete with physical sensations. If you're feeling empathy or compassion you might also be cringing and your siliva flowing. You might be angry about a time in the past you were tricked into eating a lemon or smiling at the memory of drinking lemonade on a sunny day.
Where are these feelings coming from? Are they from the picture, from the man in the picture, the photographer, from me, the presenter of the picture, from you or from somewhere else?
The thought that this picture could transport a feeling to you, seems somewhat far fetched. I can try and get you to have a particular experience by telling my story but I can not control how you hear it and what filters you have in place that will change its look and feel.
Some say they are highly sensitive and pick up the feelings of others. I do believe we are designed to tune into the feelings of others, the same way as we deeply listen to their words. When we put our full attention on another person, we naturally have less attention on our own thoughts and feelings and this enables us to connect with them. As we take in their story, we are reminded of our story or we imagine similar things happening to us and our own feelings take shape.
Actors who want an audience to have a genuine experience of their character's emotions often use strategies of recalling past experiences or imagining future ones to generate the feelings internally. Those feelings are then evident in their behaviour. The real life situation isn't happening but their thoughts seem real to them and the feelings feel and look real too.
So our feelings come from inside us, not our external environment. Some times people are more aware of the thoughts, other times the feelings, but they come as part of a package.
Talking about the reasons why our experience of life varies moment to moment in the Inside Out Revolution, Michael Neill says....
'...we live in a world of unrecognized thought. Thought is the architect of both hope and despair, the source of every color in the emotional rainbow. Without thought, there would be no delineation in our world, like the pure clarity of light before it passes through a prism and bursts into a kaleidoscope of color.'
So if we do not like the feeling we're experiencing, if it is uncomfortable or painful, we may decided to search out the thought and change it. There are certainly therapies and strategies to do this and they can be pretty successful. But it is a lot of work to police our thoughts and actually there is no need.
Thought/feeling packages are transient. They are just passing through us like clouds in the sky. For them to stay around, we need to dwell on them, 'feed' them with our attention, make them important and perhaps add a few other layers of thought to them whilst we fully think them through.
For some thoughts this is helpful, for example working out how to sequence the views in this article. For others, like those concerned with resisting writing this article, I'm best allowing them to pass by rather than creating a whole storm of thinking that keeps me busy for hours.
It is often said that feelings are our navigation system. They can help us see which lines of thought we're best investing in. Those with negative feelings attached won't harm us, but are unlikely to lead somewhere that serves us. When we have less on our minds, we open ourselves to deeper wisdom which comes with a sense of knowing and it is this wisdom that is our true guide.
Is this your experience? I'd love to hear your comments below...