What We Don’t Perceive

Have you ever had the situation where you’ve seen something “new” about your environment or an object, but then realised that thing was there all along? Why hadn’t you seen it before?

A universal truth of human perception is that we don’t see everything that’s in front of us. We only take in part of the raw data that is around us. We might think we see everything, but we don’t.

What stops us from seeing everything that’s there? It is due partly to our brain’s processing capacity and partly to the pre-existing neural pathways that we have. Our neural pathways let in only certain information and filter out other information. Our neural pathways are forming constantly throughout our lives, but many of our major patterns formed very early in life. We then carry those patterns with us in our day-to-day lives.

So how might we be able to see more of what is around us? One way is to have an “open mind”. As the name suggests, it is about being open to other possibilities. This might mean not clinging as tightly to the beliefs and ideas that we already have. It’s also about being willing to explore other options. It might mean questioning the assumptions we have made about certain things. It might also mean occasionally admitting that we have been wrong about something.

One technique to assist in viewing things differently is to imagine that you’re looking at your representation from different angles. So, for example, if you have a picture in your mind about that thing, imagine looking at the picture from behind, from the sides, from above, etc. This should help you notice different aspects of the issue.

In reality, there are endless possibilities that we can embrace. The more we can be open to these, the more choice we have. And that’s a good thing.

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Are you willing to pay the ‘price’?

Everything in life has a ‘price’. By that I mean what we expend or give up in order to have that thing. Even the good things in life have a price.
For example, in order to have the love, safety and security of being in a romantic relationship, we have to compromise. That’s the ‘price’ of the relationship. In order to earn our wage or salary, we have to perform work. That’s the ‘price’ of our job. In order to have good health we have to eat well, sleep enough and exercise. That’s the ‘price’ of having a healthy body and mind.
As long as the benefits of what we are getting outweigh the effort we have to put in, or what we have to give up, there isn’t usually a problem. However when the ‘price’ starts to get high enough, we may start to feel unhappy about what we’re getting. When the price is clearly too high, we tend to be motivated to stop doing what we’re doing or get out of a particular situation. But not always.
I have observed that many people are not really aware of the ‘price’ of a particular thing. Or they are so attached to what they’re getting that they’re willing to pay an incredibly high price; a price that many others would not be willing to pay.
The ‘price’ – when it’s starting to get too high – is often experienced as a tension within. We may feel uncomfortable but be unsure why we feel that way. In this kind of scenario, we are probably ignoring the ‘price’; unaware of the toll it’s taking on you.
So if you were to think about the various areas of your life (family, friends, work, health, hobbies, etc), do you know the price you’re paying for each of these things? And – more importantly – are you WILLING to pay the ‘price’? If not, perhaps it’s time to make some changes….

[Individual sessions of NLP help with letting go of the old to make way for the new].

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Trusting Ourselves

When we are growing up, we are usually taught to do what we are told and to please our parents. This can have the effect of training us to believe that control is with the other, ie. that it is outside of ourselves. When we are young and needing protection, this is necessary. However, if we carry this message into adulthood we can end up feeling very disempowered and we may ignore our own needs.

I strongly believe that one of the lessons of life is to trust ourselves and our own judgement. Ultimately, we are responsible only for ourselves. While we may choose to be kind and supportive to others, they have their own journey and path in life to follow.

Whether we trust our own judgement and meet our own needs is often reflected in the thought patterns we have and the feelings we have. For example, if we constantly have thoughts that we should be doing something, that might indicate that we don’t really want to do it, but that we feel expected to do it by someone else. Perhaps this is one situation where we are meeting others’ needs and not our own.

Another reflection of where we are at is if we often have feelings of guilt or resentment about doing or not doing certain things. If we were happy about our decision to do something or not do it, we probably wouldn’t feel guilty or resentful.

I truly believe that we are meant to feel free in life. By ‘free’ I mean not constrained by others’ expectations. That doesn’t mean that we will be completely self-absorbed or selfish. It means that we make our choices freely according to our own values, not what others believe or value. It means that when we say no to others, we don’t feel guilty. Or that when we do things for others, we truly want to do them and feel happy about it, rather than feeling resentful.

As Neale Donald Walsch [author of the Conversations with God books] has said (to paraphrase), feelings are the language of the soul. They should guide us. If you are not happy doing something, then why torture yourself by continuing to do it? Stop – and be happier.

NLP can help to resolve such issues and get you to a place where you do feel truly free.

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Change How You Feel

Emotions often get a bad rap – well, the ‘negative’ ones anyway (anger, sadness, guilt, fear). But emotions are neither inherently good nor bad. They just are. And we are all human; we all have times when we feel these things.

When emotions start to cause problems is when we repress them. Because some emotions have been labelled ‘bad’ or because they don’t feel good, we may push those emotions away and deny them. This is, in effect, blocking a flow of energy within the body and can therefore cause emotional, mental or physical problems. Repressed emotions are like the proverbial millstone around your neck, weighing you down. It also takes a lot of emotional energy to keep pushing them down.

Letting go of emotions which we’ve repressed frees up a lot of energy which can be used more productively elsewhere in our lives. It can also help to resolve (or reduce) issues like emotional eating, addictions and obsessions (which are, in fact, strategies that we may use to repress the emotions).

We often think that emotions are fixed things. However, they are not; they are as ethereal as air. They only become fixed when we suppress them and stop the energy of the emotions from flowing.

Our brain stores old emotions in certain formats (using submodalities, for those of you who know what that term means). For example, think of a fear that you have and imagine putting it out in front of you so that you can look at it That emotion will probably have a shape, size, colour, texture and so on that you can describe. Your brain uses those qualities to represent whatever emotion it is.

Therefore, you can change how you experience an emotion by imagining it having different qualities. For example, if your fear is hard and black and square, try visualising it as bright yellow, wispy like smoke and round. Notice whether that changes how you perceive that emotion. Then, when you’re ready to let go of that emotion, imagine it being blown away by the wind, so that it completely disappears. If your mind presents another metaphor for getting rid of the emotion to you, use that instead. Notice the changes.

Don’t let old emotions bog you down. Change their qualities and let them go. You’ll feel freer for it!

(With thanks to Joseph O’Connor, NLP trainer).

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Self-sabotage is the thing that’s most likely to prevent us from achieving our goals or behaving the way we want to. But why does it happen? If we know what we want, why can’t we just do it?
There is a presupposition in NLP which states that “all behaviour has a positive intention” (for the person doing it). It sometimes may not seem that way, but underlying it is a belief that the behaviour will bring us something we want. However, we may not be consciously aware of what is driving us.
And therein lies the problem! If we repress, ignore, or label as “bad” a certain part of ourselves, that part will undoubtedly come back to haunt us (by sabotaging our behaviour). No part likes to be ignored.
The parts of ourselves that we tend to repress are usually of two sorts: it could be a vulnerable part, or it could be a part we think of as “unacceptable” (for example, our ‘angry’ part or our ‘sad’ part). These parts usually formed out of necessity – that is, as a coping mechanism.
In most cases our internal parts have a positive intention for us. That is, they are trying to bring us some benefit. The part may or may not have a useful strategy for getting us what we want, but from where the part is, the strategy it is using appears to be logical.
A useful question to ask yourself when you keep doing something that you’d like to change is: “what do I think this is giving me?”, or “what benefit do I perceive this is bringing me?”
Once we are aware of what the underlying driver of our behaviour, we can stop to think about whether we are actually using the best strategy to get our need met. (An example is that some people think that eating sweets gives them love. When you think about it, it’s a rather futile strategy, as no inanimate object can give you love). If you realise that the strategy you’ve been using is not working, you can change it and use a more appropriate (and successful) one.
From time-to-time have a conversation with your internal parts. Ask the parts what their positive intention is for you. If a part doesn’t have a positive intention, it might be time to let go of that part. This is a decision you can make anytime.

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The Questions We Ask Ourselves

One of the most powerful questions that we can ask ourselves (or others!) is “What if …?” The power of the question comes from the fact that it causes us to imagine things in our minds. And the right content can cause us to imagine amazing things!

What happens in YOUR mind when you consider the following questions?

1. What if you had absolutely NO fears whatsoever? What would you do?
2. What if you had NO residual hurt inside? How would that change your reactions?
3. What if you knoew you had an UNLIMITED reserve of strength within you? What would you embark upon?

The limits on ourselves that we perceive are often self-imposed, and thus imaginary. If we can imagine something else, we can also choose to be in that space whenever we want to.

Research has shown that our minds do not distinguish between what is real and what is imagined. So imagine wonderful things … and then act on them!

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Are your choices really free?

In NLP, we differentiate between a free choice and one that we feel compulsed to make (ie. one where we feel as though that option controls us rather than the other way around). In the latter case, it’s not really a choice at all; the pattern is wired in at the neurological level. That means we often find ourselves doing it even when we don’t want to! It’s better to feel that our choices are truly free (ie. we control them).

That may have started you thinking already about some of your own patterns that are compulsions. Even when you know – at the conscious level – how bad they are for you or how irrational they are, you still keep doing them. You can’t seem to stop.

Wouldn’t it be great if you had more options and could make your choices freely instead of repeating the same behaviours over and over again?

NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) can help to change the compulsions. The result being that instead of always doing the same thing, you have a wider range of reactions to choose from. That way you can do what best suits the particular situation. Now that is power!

If you need help with some of your compulsions, get in touch with me for some individual sessions of NLP.

Toni Payne (ph: 0407 495 206)

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