Have you noticed that the moment you think of something obsessively it will pop into your presence seemingly everywhere? For example, the minute you consider buying a particular brand of car you see many of them on the road when you are driving; or you spend a few days thinking about an old friend only to have them call you to say hello…This sensation is actually one of the functions of your Reticular Activating System (RAS) – located in the lower part of your brain. Aside from its many bodily tasks, the one that is relevant to this concept is its ability to filter out sensory input to allow us to focus on what we deem to be most important. For example, dining in a bistro with friends, focussing on their conversation and not the background noise – until your number is called to collect your meal! Suddenly, the importance of the noise is filtered for us by our RAS.
There’s been a lot said about using our RAS for goal setting and achievement, but for me, it’s just another example of how we do truly get what we focus on (good and bad). I don’t think this is about a hocus pocus notion of “wish for it and it is yours” but rather it becomes an embodiment of who we believe we are – the essence of our very selves. That’s why Dyer’s statement rings true…
We don’t get what we want, we get what we are.
I’ve enjoyed a relaxing (screen free!) time over these last school holidays, and have had some very engaging
conversations debates with my husband John. In particular, we have spent considerable time discussing the idea of connection to all other things on our planet, and, as a result, absolutely all of our actions (or even decisions not to act) have an impact on those around us. I’ve realised that I get a lot more from our conversations when I have the intention to simply listen and question, rather than be right. This isn’t always easy!
Anyway, two days after our debate, we met with a lovely new friend from Tibet. She was keen to learn more about soap making methods in the hope of taking some ideas back to her village when she returns home next month. Up until our lunch together, she had been a total stranger and we had only communicated the logistics of our luncheon via email. Danma came to our home, and presented us with a thankyou gift – a framed display of the auspicious Tibetan Buddhist symbols, and at the top was the Endless Knot – the symbol representing our connectedness on this planet! There is no coincidence in this encounter, just another example to highlight that what we focus on is what we get.
For me, the most interesting thing about our RAS is exploring how closely it is linked to our fundamental underlying beliefs about who we are as a person. If my belief says I never get a break in life – then our physical filter (RAS) will likely filter such experiences to be highlighted to us over a lifetime. If I’m someone who thinks I will always be able to get by in life, then my filter probably seeks out such examples throughout life. In essence, even my greatest achievements may be fleeting if deep down I don’t believe I deserve them. If this is the case I may spend forever trying to prove myself wrong! How tiring this is.
The answer is to re-tune my RAS. To focus on the positive outcomes, and genuinely believe I am worthy of them.