Some days we just feel our body scream “Today I need a break”. That day happened to me last week and I ended up browsing Ted Talks. Regardless of how you feel on a particular day, you can always listen to Ted. I love how you can learn about things you never even knew existed. It doesn’t only teach you something new, but simultaneously takes away the guilt of “not being able to be productive”.
However, after I stumbled upon Isaac Lindsky’s talk with the title “What reality are you creating for yourself”, I asked myself whether my sudden fatigue was only a constructed reality or if it was actually real. What if my knowledge that I had worked very hard the last few weeks and that I could see in my calendar that I had nothing urgent on that day, fuelled my feeling of “today I can’t do anything”?
What you see is what you believe
It struck me how we base 2/3 of our realities on what we see. As Lindsky said “We open our eyes and there is the world, we see it and we believe it”. Every second, our brain can send 2 billion images of information to our visual cortex. Thus it is not surprising that we base our realities on visual images.
It wasn’t until Lindsky fell blind that he discovered how the reality that we construct for ourselves based on visual inputs, is not the universal truth. Instead, what we see is greatly influenced by our emotions, memory, opinions etc. For example, the 6 floors to my studio can feel impossible at the end of a long day. On the other hand, if it’s morning and I just had to run down for some breakfast, I can even enjoy how the stairs wake me up. The stairs never change. Rather it’s my perception of the stairs that change.
Lindsky also recognises that this influential process is not just a one-way-street. It’s also true in reverse, where what we see can influence how we feel. If we see a bright blue sky, it’s as if life feels easier and better. Returning to my example in the intro; As I saw the free time in my calendar I felt how my body relaxed.
“Going blind taught me how to live with my eyes wide open” – Isaac Lindsky
Lindsky says that fear is the greatest emotional influencer on what we see and can greatly distort reality. If we are under fear, anything is better than the unknown. Instead fear replaces the unknown with the awful. When he was told that he wouldn’t be able to see again, he was sure that it would ruin his life and that he would die alone. He didn’t know how life was without sight and therefore he replaced it by condemning “blind-life” as awful.
Today he knows that the reality he constructed was a lie. Blindness didn’t ruin his life and he doesn’t live alone. Instead he has a lovely family with four children. He says that it wasn’t until he let go of his fears and embraced the uncertain that he began to see all blessings around him. The latter statement made me instantaneously think of one of Charles’ embroideries with the same idea. Its title is “look around”, which partly refers to our blindness of the beauty we have around us. Instead of looking around, we easily fall into the black hole of temptation, or in the thought of Lindsky: the black hole of fear. Fear of what would happen if we missed out on any of the tempting opportunities, commodities and relations.
Confront your fears and you liberate your reality
Everyone can learn to live with their lives with their eyes wide open. But according to Lindsky it requires you to:
- Hold yourself accountable for every moment, thought and detail
- See beyond your fears
- Recognise your assumptions
- Silent your internal critique
- Correct your misconceptions of luck and success
The reason is that your fears, inner critic, assumptions and misconceptions become your excuses, justifications and surrender. In other words, they become the fictions that you perceive as your reality. If your choose to recognise all the above, see through them and to let them go, you will give yourself clearer vision.
Lindsky emphasises that this process is by no means easy. However, we have to be prepared to fight for the things that are the most valuable. Furthermore, to be the creator of your own reality comes with complete responsibility. Especially responsibility of the here and now. If you constantly run into the hole of fear and/or temptation, you decrease your accountability for your actual current reality simply because you don’t see it.
“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision” – Helen Keller
Lindsky leaves the listener with three compelling questions:
- What do you fear?
- Which lies do you tell yourself?
- And what reality are you creating for yourself?
The answers to all of the above will have unforeseeable consequences on your career, personal life and relationships with people and things around you. Thus, make sure that you consider them all carefully and truthfully to create the most genuine reality for yourself.