When you look around in the world, what do you see?
What kind of people is it filled with? How do events generally tend to transpire over and over again? Are there any clear patterns you can recognize?
Is it a cruel world? An unfair world? Or a fun one filled with love?
Is there a lot of misery going on despite the abundance of possibilities?
Or does it amaze you how people always find what they need to be happy even with the limited resources they have?
How many Trumps does it take to change a light bulb?
…these are not just some random questions I put at the start of a blog post to engage you and draw you in (even though they are ? ). They are some of the most important things you can ask yourself for your personal growth.
But before we’ll start to dive into why these questions are so helpful, I politely invite you to take a sheet of paper and write down as many things as possible that you believe are true about other people in general and society in general.
• Things that are great about it
• Things that you hate about it
• Things are beautiful about it
• Things that annoy you or make you angry
• Things that always seem to happen
• Recurring traits most people seem to have
If you want to, you can even go on all out and have a full on binge-rant where you complain about everything and everyone you can think of. (You know what really grinds my gears??? Pepijn with his stupid blog posts that I somehow still end up reading to the end every time.)
Don’t read this blog post first, make the list first. Otherwise the rest of this post might influence your thoughts ?
Why are you still reading,… Go rant that rant ?
Life as a Mirror
What you wrote down, was not about the people you thought it was.
It was not about the world either.
It was all about you.
The things you loved were things you loved about yourself, consciously or unconsciously. The things you hated were only parts of yourself that you hated. And the traits you think everyone has, are traits you have. Whether you like it or not.
Depending on what you wrote down the above idea might make you really annoyed with my way of thinking. But for a moment: Don’t try to argue about why it wouldn’t be true in your case. Imagine what I said was true. What would that mean?
If this knowledge could empower you to stop running into those same situations, or into people with those traits you despise. Wouldn’t you like to know?
Wouldn’t you be willing to just try going along with my train of thought for 5 minutes? Just for the heck of it? Can’t hurt, right?
Or do you enjoy constantly experiencing things you hate so much that you’d rather dismiss an idea that could help you stop this right away? ?
(See what I did there?)
Last year, I wrote a short post called “Maps of Reality”. About how and why everyone looks at the world in a different way. If you’d like to know the exact process of how this happens, you can read the original article. But to give you the summary of the summary, the process goes like this:
Step 1: Some light waves hit your eye. (Let’s say, someone on the bus with a neutral expression on her face, not smiling, but not looking sad either.)
Step 2: Your brain interprets the light waves and translates them into an image.
Step 3: You see the image.
You’re probably familiar with this process, but you may or may not have considered the full implications of it:
If the information is processed by your brain before you see the image, that means anything inside your brain, any beliefs/opinions/knowledge/patterns deducted from earlier experiences will influence what you see.
Even though her face was just a neutral resting expression, you might think “Why isn’t she smiling? All these commuters are so unhappy. She probably has a boring job and a boyfriend she settled for. I wish more people were happy.”
Or on another day, you might think “She looks so calm and peaceful. She must’ve had a great day at work without any stress.”
Now where do these random judgments come from?
They are projections of things you believe about yourself. And since your brain uses these to create your interpretation of the world (as anything you observe passes through it first), you could say that in a way, the external world you see is a mirror image of the internal world inside your head.
It’s easy to dismiss that idea immediately, especially when it comes to the things you don’t like. But if you do that, you are neglecting to take advantage of one of the best free resources out there for resolving your own personal issues and becoming a happier person.
Finding Your Blind Spots
What’s the coolest thing about mirrors? (or cruelest, depending on how you look ? )
…they help you see your face.
It may or may not have occurred to you, but your own face is a major blind spot. Without a mirror, literally everyone with eyes can see it, except for you.
In the same way, there are lots of things about your own character that you yourself are oblivious to, but are blatantly obvious to anyone else. And that’s okay. Everyone has these blind spots. Think of that one guy you know that thinks he’s a world class dancer or a true casanova. Everyone sees the truth. But he doesn’t.
If only you had some kind of mirror you could use to see those things and fix them. Just like the one you use for fixing your makeup…
…like that little rant list you made at the start of this post ?
If you keep in mind that the world you see is created largely by your beliefs about it. And that human beings have a natural tendency to deny the existence of certain qualities they have and attribute them to other people, it’s safe to say that some (if not all) of the things you wrote on your list are blind spots you have about your own personality.
In my case I’ve found this to be true almost without exception.
I used to get frustrated when women canceled on dates or band mates canceled rehearsals at the last moment. It took me a couple of years to realize that meant I was a very flaky person myself. Since the start of this year I’ve begun to make an effort to really stick to any appointments I make. Interestingly, now I doesn’t bother me any more when other people cancel on me. I just use the free time for something else.
Something I’ve noticed myself complaining a lot about recently, is the inefficient way in which a lot of companies operate.
Am I right about the fact that they are inefficient? Of course. Just like you may be right about a lot of the things on your list. But when I take a moment to stop complaining and remind myself of the fact that the world around me is nothing but a reflection of the one inside my head, it becomes painfully obvious that what I’m complaining about is the fact that I need a more efficient work routine myself. The annoyance I experience dealing with inefficient companies and officials is just my brains way of telling me to get on top of my shit. (Not literally of course.)
Now have a look at your list. What is on there? And how can you interpret those things when you only allow yourself to believe that they are reflections of your own personality…
• Do you believe the world is unfair? Perhaps your expectations are unfair.
• Are people too hard on you? Maybe that means you’re being too hard on yourself.
• Is there no one you can trust? Maybe that means you are untrustworthy. In fact, people with trust issues have repeatedly proven to be some of the most untrustworthy and manipulative people I’ve met.
• Do you see the world as a beautiful place with endless new interesting things to discover? Then maybe that’s how you see yourself, great!
Now of course it isn’t all that black and white. The world is complicated. People are not one-dimensional beings. But even when you acknowledge that fact, the aspects of them that you focus on will still be reflections of what’s going inside you at that moment.
No one is 100% friendly, 100% manipulative or 100% loving and caring all the time. But you bring out the traits in them that align with your own inner vibe at the moment. Not a lot of people bring out their fun side when they’re hanging with a person that’s, well… Unfun ?
Using This Belief to Empower Yourself
Is the idea that everything in life is just a reflection of you always unconditionally true? Maybe. Very few things are But that’s not the point. If you take on the perspective that it always must be true, that’ll keep you from denying some of the most important truths about yourself you don’t want to face.
Using this perspective for a while is very empowering when you realize it works in both directions. Anything you dislike about your current life experience can be altered by changing your own inner world.
Tired of meeting manipulative women or jerks that emotionally abuse you to get into your pants? You can fix that by becoming more honest and vulnerable yourself.
Do you see a world filled with rich assholes while the poor get nothing? Work on your own financial situation & mindset.
Does it bother you that your dog keeps urinating on your rug because that rug really ties the room together?
Perhaps that means you yourself need to learn to become less picky when it comes to choosing which places to… Nevermind… I guess there are limits to this way of thinking ?