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Changing Your Filters

I spent some of this weekend having a good sort out in my office and I came across a story I first heard when I was training to be a practitioner.  It was demonstrating how things can be viewed from a different angle with a totally different outcome.

The story originates from Chinese Folklore goes something like this…

The Cracked Pot

An elderly woman had two large pots which hung at the end of a pole she used to carry water.  One of the pots had a crack while the other was perfect and always carried a full quota of water.

At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot was only ever half full.  For two years the lady made the daily trip to fetch fresh water, arriving home with one and a half pots of water.

The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, it always delivered a full pot.   The cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfections and miserable as it could only do half a job.

After two years of being a failure, it spoke to the woman, “I’m so ashamed, I’m sorry I can’t do my job.  My crack means I leak water all the way back to your house and I’m half empty by the time we arrive.”

The old woman smiled and asked if the pot had noticed the flowers on its side of the path, but not on the side of the perfect pot.  She had always known about the crack, so she planted flower seeds along the side of the path.  On their walk back, the cracked pot could water them.

It was because of the crack, the flowers bloomed.  The old woman was able to pick pretty flowers to decorate the table and house.  Without the pot having the crack, the house wouldn’t have the colours and fragrances from the flowers.

It’s our ‘cracks’ which make us unique, our lives interesting and rewarding.

What ‘cracks’ do you get stuck thinking about yourself?  The things you constantly think about are reinforced by your brilliant brain and the way it selects information.

Reticular Activating System

The information overload that bombards us constantly would be incredibly overwhelming if there were no filters.   Consider just how many feelings, images, colours, smells, tastes we experience at any one time, it’s incredible we’re able to function with this constant feed of data.

The part of the brain responsible for filtering this information is called the Reticular Activating System (RAS).  It’s selective on our behalf and filters our environment to decide what’s important.

It does this by noticing what you focus on most and selecting information to fit this view.  If you think you’re not confident, your RAS is looking for evidence to support this.

You must be cautious around the stories you’re telling yourself.  The more proof you see to reinforce these stories, the more the stories and your beliefs are reinforced.

The stronger your belief is, the more you will tell yourself it’s true.  You end up in a circle of the stories you tell yourself, seeing the proof and reinforcing the belief which then feeds back into the stories again.  And around it goes!

Set your RAS up to look for the positives and the things you want more of in your life.  This way, your RAS will start to find more of these to reinforce this new thinking.  Before long you will be in the habit of automatically looking for the things that will support your life and useful beliefs.

So, what are you unhappy with yourself?  If you were to think about it from a different perspective, how does it change?  What information do you need to filter for to make this your new reality?  Start to look for what you want and you will start seeing the evidence and find the motivation to get on track.

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.”  Norman Vincent Peale