Life Coaching

Picking Your Filter

I’m sure you’ve heard the Wayne Dyer quote, or something close to it, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” For several years after hearing this I held onto a literal interpretation of this, thinking as I changed my way of thinking the tangible things around me would change. I’d watched The Secret, and was spending time imagining checks in the mail, and parking spaces opening up to me with a little success. I struggled with truly understanding how changing my thoughts could change what I was looking at, because everyday things seemed to stay the same. Until a solicitor came into our office, I can’t remember what he was selling, but I do remember the life changing information he shared with me as we chatted before his sales pitch.

He told me about the Reticular Activating System. I’ll be honest I politely engaged him in the conversation, but my fingers were on the keyboard at the ready to prove that this solicitor was selling me some woo-woo information. No sooner had he left then I set off researching and learned it wasn’t woo-woo, in fact is the very information I had been searching for to help me understand that when I change my thinking I change what I am looking at.

What is the reticular activating system (RAC)? Simply put it’s a filter for the information that gets allowed into your consciousness. At any given moment you are being pelleted with information from the 300 megapixels of visual information to the way every nerve cell on your skin is detecting pressure, pain, temperature, and location. Take a few seconds right now to listen to the sounds around you, feel what your entire body is feeling, and see what is going on around you. You probably heard things that you don’t usually hear, felt things you don’t normal recognize, and maybe noticed something that’s been right in front of you this whole time.

If all of this information was passing through into our awareness we’d be crying like an overstimulated baby! That is the reason for the all important RAC. How does the RAC decide which information gets through and what information gets filtered out? You tell it. What you think your brain says Oh! This is important. Anything that has to do with  XYZ gets through the filter. Two easy examples of this: have you ever wanted a certain type of car, or purchased a new car, and suddenly everyone is driving that kind of car? You start seeing it everywhere? It’s not because everyone else stole your idea, but you told your brain this type of car is important to me and your brain said righty-o and made sure you saw all of those car

Have you ever been pregnant, wanted to be pregnant, or didn’t want to be pregnant? And pregnant women start popping up everywhere? More women aren’t pregnant around you, but you’ve told your brain this matters to me, and your brain responds with making sure you are aware of all things pregnancy in your world.

Your RAC will also filter OUT things that you determine are not necessary to be aware of. For instance we spent a few years living by an extremely busy road. The first few weeks of living there every time I opened the door, or went outside, I was acutely aware of how loud the traffic was. Over time I stopped hearing it because my brain learned it wasn’t necessary to keep at the forefront of my thinking. After parenting for 16 years I have developed the ability to tune out 6 kids and a dog running through the house because it is part of the “safe” soundtrack I am accustomed to hearing.

So, when we change the way we look at things, we are essentially installing a new filter, so the things we look at change. If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, you are putting in a filter that says, today is a bad day filter information to support that. If you wake up with a smile on your face, you will find information to support that. My mom once said to me if you are looking for information on the internet to support something you believe you will find it. She is right. The same goes for life.

What if you were to wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and say and think I am a kind, happy, engaged person who matters and has value. Overtime your RAC is going to insert a filter to help you see yourself in the way you are constantly affirming, and will respond accordingly. If you spend 30 seconds thinking that in the morning, but spend the next 12 hours saying and thinking the opposite your RAC is going to struggle to put in the new filter. You have more power over how you are experiencing life than you may realize.

If you feel like what you are looking at doesn’t match what you are thinking take a few minutes to answer the following questions: I believe I am… I believe money is… I believe my health is… I believe my family is… I believe relationships are… if there is some conflicting messages between what you think and what you wrote, or you would like help updating your RAC filter I can help.

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