Opportunity Spotting

I’m constantly amazed by the number of people who see their lives through dark glasses, by the number of people who tell me that opportunities have dried up for them as a result of the economic difficulties of the last few years or by people who have never come across an opportunity in their lives at all! I shouldn’t be amazed, of course, because psychology tells is that, in fact, normal people never actually see reality – they only see their version of it. And on the basis that the normal subconscious is predisposed to focus on the negative, it’s hardly surprising that most people are blinded by their own lack of vision.

Of course, dark glasses syndrome comes in all shapes and sizes – from the guy or girl who is just going through a bad patch struggling with their business, their job or their relationship to the seriously delusional people who trot out nonsense like “nobody loves me” or “I hate my life”. But these different perspectives are all symptoms of a normal everyday disease that all of us normal everyday people suffer from. You might call this disease ‘reality blindness’.

The normal adult mind sleepwalks through life with their eye firmly shut. We think that we’re looking at reality but it is a psychological fact that we are looking at the world through our own misconceptions about it. We learned those misconceptions about life in general and ourselves in particular during our formative years. All these ‘truths’ that we hold dear are what psychologists call our ‘stored knowledge’. Let’s take a look at the role that our stored knowledge plays in creating our reality.

You encounter a total stranger in an airport – fog has closed the airport. Whether or not you talk to this stranger will, first of all, depend on your mood. That mood of yours, which is often as variable as the Irish weather, is automatically determined by your subconscious – you can’t really control it. If you normally get all stressed out because your plans have been messed up, well, it is what it is – and you’ve been like that forever. But let’s say you’re in the mood to talk to this stranger. You will not see the stranger, you will see who you think the stranger is. Your brain, via your eyes and optic nerves, receive a set of images which, until you add something, make no sense – this process is called cognition. To make sense of all these, you subconscious mind refers to your stored knowledge. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the guy or girl sitting beside you – it’s all got to do with who he or she reminds you of. This process is called re-cognition. In short, you will recognize this stranger as a person that you could either like or completely hate – or anything in between. All this happens in the space of four or five seconds and you haven’t got the first clue that it’s happening – it’s all deep-down subconscious.

Right, it’s time to ask yourself a couple of important things. Isn’t it a fact of life that all the most important people in your life, as it is now, were once total strangers to you? How could you even begin to appreciate whether or not the person you’re either talking to or ignoring could be the next most important stranger who could change your life? To our first question the answer is a resounding “Yes”. The answer to the second question is ‘you haven’t got a clue’ – unless you really open your eyes and starting seeing real reality for what it really is. To do this, you need to disrupt the automatic link between basic cognition and stored-knowledge-driven recognition – you need to learn to stop depending on this so-called stored knowledge of yours to automatically make up your mind for you.

Now, don’t get me wrong – some of this so-called stored knowledge is actually of use to us. But what I’m saying is that you have to break away from being a slave to it. And there’s really only one way to do this – you’ve got to train yourself in the art of observation. Basically, you’ve got to stop your subconscious making up your mind for you – after all, it will always arrive at the wrong conclusion because it’s using decades-old stored knowledge. Your ability to simply observe, without jumping to any subconscious conclusion, can only be developed in a time and place where you don’t actually need to call upon it – so that you’re good at it when you do! What I mean is that you need to set quiet time aside to practice this art far from the cut and thrust of your daily life. A few minutes early in the day will completely transform the rest of the day because, when you get used to realizing what’s really going during your ‘training’ you’ll become far more tuned in to what is really and actually taking place as the day progresses.

Find yourself a park bench, a seat in a pavement cafe or even just your normal train seat on the morning commute. Take the earphones out and turn off your mobile ‘phone. Put down your book or throw away your newspaper. Get rid of all your thoughts – they’re generally a barrier to experiencing reality – and start observing. Watch what’s happening. Don’t start trying to figure out what might be going on. Don’t start putting your own interpretation on what your watching. Don’t start second-guessing what’s actually in front of your eyes. Simply observe – nothing else – and you’ll begin to notice that the scene that you’re watching changes from one moment to the next just as, in reality, the whole universe is changing from one moment to the next.

Developing your ability to observe will disconnect the disability that you have for jumping to the wrong conclusion. Observation will give you a fresh set of eyes. And, armed with a fresh set of eyes, you’ll suddenly discover a totally different perspective on what you previously thought of as life. And, just mayble, you’ll start seeing all the opportunities that have been all around you at every turn.

Copyright (c) 2011 Willie Horton

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