The last one hundred years of research suggest that you, and everyone else, still believe in a form of naïve realism. You still believe that although your inputs may not be perfect, once you get to thinking and feeling, those thoughts and feelings are reliable and predictable. We now know that there is no way you can ever know an “objective” reality, and we know that you can never know how much of subjective reality is a fabrication, because you never experience anything other than the output of your mind. Everything that’s ever happened to you has happened inside your skull.
– David McRaney
You have the power to change your reality. Things that ‘happen to you’ can either be negative or positive. There is no set, objective reality. So why are so many of us constructing realities that are full of fear, anxiety and pain? Why are we seeing every situation as the worst possible one? Why are we constructing narratives that make us feel alone and unloved? Why are we creating enemies, when the people talking to us may, in fact, be our best friends?
Cognitive therapy, psychopharmacology, and depth psychology–three very different treatment approaches- in their own distinctive way, attempts to alter the patient’s subjective reality, recognizing that such interior shifts of mood, perception, and attitude can manifest themselves in positive behavioral changes in the outer world. And that in turn, those beneficial changes in objective reality can themselves serve to reinforce and therapeutically transform the patient’s subjective reality and sense of self, creating a sort of “positive snowball” to replace the prior “negative snowball” syndrome.
Below are some ways for you to try to shift your subjective reality for a calmer, happier life.
1.Ask ‘why” until you get to the root of the reality
Anxiety is formed by convincing yourself that a thought or event is real. The best way to alleviate that thought is to get to the root of it. If you can find where the thought is coming from, you can more easily see that the thought is wrong and your anxiety is an overreaction to an inaccurate conclusion.
How do you do this? When you observe your thoughts about a situation, you can then ask WHY you think that. And if you don’t want to think those thoughts any more, or have those reactions, then change the underlying WHY.
It’s kinda like watching daffodils growing in your garden and asking why? Well, you planted daffodil bulbs. If you don’t want the daffodils, it’s no use cutting off the flowers, as come next spring, the bulbs will grow those same yellow flowers. No, if you want to change the flowers you must pull out the bulbs and plant new seeds. This means that if you want to react differently to a situation, you must find the underlying belief that causes that reaction, yank it out by the root, and plant a new belief deep inside that creates the reactions you want.
And this takes work.
It means paying attention to Yourself. Observing, watching, listening and taking note. It means accepting nothing about yourself as set in stone and asking why all the time. This gives you the freedom to change your beliefs about “how things are” if those beliefs are not working for you anymore.
2. Acknowledge your own biases and neurosis
Phenomenology is a philosophical method or technique we use in existential psychotherapy to try to get closer to the patient’s subjective truth or reality. This requires being conscious of and setting aside our usual preconceptions and biases (or at least recognizing them as such) as much as possible when we encounter the patient, so as to be able to comprehend and experience more clearly his or her subjective reality.
Next time you have an argument with someone, ask yourself why you’re angry with them. What is it about what they said that makes you so angry? What biases are you holding that is causing this anger. If you can begin to understand that it’s never anyone, bur rather, your perception of them and their ideas, then you’ll start to find yourself less angry at others and more interested in your own ideals and where they’re stemming from.
3. Hold a new thought in your mind until it’s your only thought
“There is a Zen story about a monk who, having failed to achieve “enlightenment” (brain-change) through the normal Zen methods, was told by his teacher to think of nothing but an ox. Day after day after day, the monk thought of the ox, visualized the ox, meditated on the ox. Finally, one day, the teacher came to the monk’s cell and said, “Come out here — I want to talk to you.” “I can’t get out,” the monk said. “My horns won’t fit through the door.” I can’t get out . . . At these words, the monk was “enlightened.” Never mind what “enlightenment” means, right now. The monk went through some species of brain change, obviously. He had developed the delusion that he was an ox, and awakening from that hypnoidal state he saw through the mechanism of all other delusions and how they robotize us.” ― Robert Anton Wilson, Prometheus Rising
If you want to change your perception of the world, you’ll need to work on changing the way your brain processes the world. You need to practice holding good thoughts instead of bad. You need to rewire the way you think about things. To do this, start with one small change. Maybe tell yourself that every day for the next six months you will tell yourself you love your morning commute. Even if it’s awful, you’ll make yourself say “I love this.”
In six months, see how you’re engaging with your daily commute.
4. Change the ” Prover”
Robert Anton Wilson believes the human mind behaves as if it were divided into two parts, the Thinker and the Prover. The Thinker can think about virtually anything.
The Prover is a much simpler mechanism. It operates on one law only: Whatever the Thinker thinks, the Prover proves. To cite a notorious example which unleashed incredible horrors earlier in this century, if the Thinker thinks that all Jews are rich, the Prover will prove it. It will find evidence that the poorest Jew in the most run-down ghetto has hidden money somewhere.
He proposes these exercises to rid yourself or change the input of your Prover.
1.) Visualize a quarter vividly, and imagine vividly that you are going to find the quarter on the street. Then, look for the quarter every time you take a walk, meanwhile continuing to visualize it.See how long it takes you to find the quarter.
2.) Explain the above experiment by the hypothesis of “selective attention”—that is, believe there are lots of lost quarters everywhere and you were bound to find one by continually looking. Go looking for a second quarter.
3.) Explain the experiment by the alternative “mystical” hypothesis that “mind controls everything.” Believe that you made the quarter manifest in this universe. Go looking for a second quarter.
4.) Compare the time it takes to find the second quarter using the first hypothesis (attention) with the time it takes using the second hypothesis (mind-over-matter).
5.) With your own ingenuity, invent similar experiments and each time compare the two theories—”selective attention” (coincidence) vs. “mind controls everything” (psychokinesis).