“Reality is merely is merely an illusion, although a very persistent one" Albert Einstein
The way we perceive the world is a guide to how we navigate our way through it via out filters of experience- our map. You see, ‘reality’ as we see it is only an edited version of the ‘real thing’- the territory. Most of us operate as if our map that we hold in our minds is the reality that everyone else uses. We then make assumptions and deletions based on our perceptions, resulting in stress and conflict as we learn that others don’t think the same way!
We create a very limited view of the world which often leaves us feeling without choice, stressed and unhappy that others aren’t doing it right. Or, we feel we seem to be getting it wrong (depending on what our model says) ! The question I often ask my clients is, ‘would you like to change this view’? Most of them say yes of course though with a having a map comes a certain amount of investment in that view of the world and a fear of what might happen if I change it?
As a therapist, I aim to challenge the ‘reality’ of a person’s experience whilst respecting their model of the world as being theirs and unique. I do not wish to trample on what has been their foundation for years of experience though perhaps offer them a different perspective from a third person’s point of view. This in itself can be liberating.
To begin shifting your reality, work through the following steps to begin editing your experiences:
1. Bring a stressful or negative memory or thought to mind- make sure you make it as powerful as possible- sense and connect with the colours, feelings, sounds again.
2. Check in with yourself- would it be okay to let go of any unpleasant feelings associated with it? If ‘no’ then ask yourself ‘what is the positive purpose of keeping it? i.e. so you don’t do it again or so you can ‘punish’ that person or yourself? Be curious.
3. Next, notice how you think about the thought or memory you’re accessing then:
a. If you’re associated (in it), dissociate (see yourself in it like a movie)
b. Turn it black and white if it is in colour.
c. If it is in 3D, make the memory flat like you’re seeing it on a screen.
d. Shrink it down in size until you have it about the size of a postcard, flat and black and white in front of you.
e. Reach out in your mind, screw it up and throw it away or burn it.
4. Test it- Think about the memory now and see how you feel about it now? If it feels better, you’re finished. If there is no change, try altering the other submodalities such as making the sound different or quieter or adding a funny soundtrack to the image or memory. Using humour is very powerful for changing our perceptions of things. Try it next time you are scared of something or anticipating an event like doing a presentation- imagine the most ridiculous thing or a commentary by someone who makes you laugh and see how it feels. Feel free to play with it, after all, it’s your reality!