What is reality? It’s a question philosophers have tried to answer for thousands of years. There are something like nine billion people on the planet, and every one of us is living inside our own version of reality. There are certain facts the world presents to us: the sun rises every day, there are 365 days in a year, it’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. We then filter those facts through our life experiences and create certain realities around them. One person sees the rising sun as yet another day to slog through, while another person sees new opportunity. It all comes down to a matter of perspective. When we look at the three major pillars of life, Health/Body, Money/Career, and Relationships, what realities are you creating for yourself? You step on the scale and look at the number. It’s higher than you’d like it to be. What’s the story that plays in your mind? Do you say, I’m fat, it’s hopeless, I’m a loser? Or do you say, I'm awesome, time to lay off the ice cream, hit the Peloton, I got this! When you look at the bank account or consider your professional status, what’s the story there? Is it about hopelessness and struggle? Or is it about resilience and forward momentum? When you find challenges in relationships, where does your mind go? To places of shame and unworthiness? Or do you honestly examine the role you play and resolve to take accountability for it? The reality you live in is entirely dictated by the perspective from which you choose to view it.
I saw a video the other day where an older, homeless looking fellow appears to be wandering down the sidewalk in some city somewhere, and he bumps into a young, corporate-looking chap dressed in a sharp suit and carrying a briefcase. The corporate guy looks down his nose at the homeless guy then continues on to the street where he starts to get into a cheap looking little hatchback car. The homeless guy starts to laugh hysterically and point at the “rich guy’s” lame car, then proceeds out to the street where he climbs into a yellow Lamborghini and speeds away. Now I’m pretty sure the whole thing was staged, but the video made its point nonetheless. With just a few seconds of video, we immediately form an idea about the “homeless guy” based only on the visual cue of his appearance. And whatever ideas we may form about his interaction with sharp-suit guy, we would never in a million years guess that he was about to drive away in an expensive Italian sports car. We couldn’t possibly guess it because our perspective of the homeless guy, and all the baggage that goes along with that, would never allow us to.
We like to think we live in the moment. That the past is behind us and the future lies ahead. We tend to believe that we draw on past experiences to help us make decisions in the moment and plans for the future. But the truth is, the brain doesn’t work that way. The brain is always trying to make sense of what’s being presented to it. And the only way it can do that is to use what it already knows. As a result, we are constantly looking through the filter of our past, the experiences, the emotions, the lessons learned, to inform what we are experiencing in the moment and our outlook on the future. We form opinions based on past experiences, and that becomes the perspective through which we perceive reality.
There are fascinating accounts from the Age of Exploration when men like Columbus, Pizarro and Cortes landed in Central and South America. When the Native Americans living there first saw the massive Spanish galleons on the horizon, they had never seen anything like them before. Their brains had no frame of reference and so they believed they were seeing mountains that had suddenly sprung up from the ocean floor. They were even more astonished when the explorers rode to shore on horseback. Up until that time, there were no horses in the Americas. As a result, the natives believed they were in the presence of some new (and certainly very frightening) creature that was half man, half beast. Their perspective of what they were seeing was entirely informed by their past knowledge, which did not include horses or giant sailing ships.
This is an extreme example of what our brains do everyday. The brain is always trying to make sense of what it’s seeing and put it into a frame of reference that makes sense to us, even when that frame of reference doesn’t serve us in a way that’s beneficial. If you’re carrying some extra weight, having the perspective “I’m fat” and “I’m a loser” isn’t going to get you where you want to be. Making any kind of change in your life first requires making a change of perspective. It requires a conscious effort, because when left to its own devices, the brain will simply continue doing what it does best: forming opinions based on what it already knows. To create a change of perspective we have to recognize when we are filtering our reality through the past and instead, introduce new ideas.
So how do we do that? It doesn’t have to be difficult. And it doesn’t mean ignoring our past experiences. It simply requires being aware. There is a simple exercise you can incorporate into your daily routine that will allow you to create a change in perspective. It’s a concept we utilize throughout our Power Series and can be a powerful tool for transformation. The idea behind this exercise is to learn to recognize the difference between Fact and Story. Every day we are presented with countless numbers of facts. When you step on the scale, the number it shows you is a fact. You weigh X number of pounds, doesn’t matter what the number is, it’s a fact. Likewise, the numbers on your bank statement are facts. Regardless of how you might feel about those numbers, they are what they are. Period. But the brain doesn’t like such tidy definitions. It wants to create stories around the significance of those facts. The past emotional attachments we have around body issues or career create feelings about those numbers and the brain forms an opinion about them. This becomes our perspective. There are the unvarnished facts, then there is our perspective on those facts which is based entirely on past experience. When we are able to separate facts from the stories our brain wants to tell about them, we can begin to create a new perspective.
A few years back, I had a client who lived in a constant feeling of failure. His perspective on his life was that he was unsuccessful, and that the only way to achieve success was to make more money. Okay, I thought that might be a logical assumption that a lot of people would make. But when he told me how much money he was worth and the amount he earned each year, I thought I hadn’t heard him correctly. They were numbers that I think anybody would be quite happy with and would surely consider a success. Now, there was an awful lot to unpack there, but it was clear that it didn’t really matter how many zeroes he saw in his bank account. The problem was not with numbers, those were simply facts. What needed to change was his perspective about what those numbers mean. This was someone who came from nothing and built a successful business. A new perspective might be to stop looking at the numbers on the bank statement as symbols of failure, but rather as the fruits of years of hard work, ambition, and determination.
I’m not suggesting that creating your best life is simply a matter of changing your mind about a few things. It’s not as easy as flipping a switch. It takes time, practice, and determination to create a perspective that will allow you to achieve the outcomes you’re looking for. Before I started my own journey of personal growth, I was scraping together cash wherever I could find it, I was renting a room in someone else’s house, and I had no clear vision of where my life was going. Because of the emotional patterning from my childhood, my perspective of life was, “Well, I’m surviving. I guess this is as good as it gets.” When I got to a place that I could no longer tolerate, I realized I would never make any forward movement as long as I believed “this is as good as it gets.” I needed to change my perspective. I couldn’t have built the life I have now if I hadn't first learned how to stop listening to the stories my brain was telling about the facts in my life and started to create new ones. As I continued to grow, I began to develop my vision for the life I wanted to create. It included the idea for what would become Inner Matrix Systems and my desire to share what I had learned and to change people’s lives. My friends and family thought I was nuts. “Jesus, Joey, just get a job, would you?” Because from their perspective, dedicating your life to changing the lives of others just wasn’t something that people do. They had no experience with it, they didn’t know anyone who did it, they had no frame of reference. The fact presented to them: Joey wants to help people and change the world. Their perspective: Joey’s finally lost it. And there was a time when I would have absolutely agreed with them. But because I had changed my perspective on the life I wanted to create, my vision was clear.
When you engage with our Power Series, you will learn the techniques and strategies for shifting your perspective, for recognizing the difference between facts and the stories we tell about them, and how to train the mind to tell new stories that will take you where you want to go. Click HERE to learn more about the Power Series and sign up today!