How to Shift Your Mind to a Positive Perspective! Why Priming Blinds Us

Our brains, human behavior, and conditioning have always been a great fascination for me. Every single person is unique, giving them a distinct perspective. Each person sees life differently based on temperament, personality, and past experiences. But not just their experiences, but what conclusions they draw from their experiences. What an incredible opportunity we have to learn empathy and understanding.

It's true...we all live in a private little universe. No matter how close we become with another human being, we can never truly know what another person feels and experiences. In fact, a silly little thing called priming prevents us from viewing others accurately. Let me tell you a personal story that illustrates a blindspot of mine.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Perspective determines the quality of our experience.How We Perceive Our Experience Colors Our Reality

When we first moved into our Heartmanity Center in Bozeman, I had a lot of fun furnishing it while also getting acquainted with my new neighbors. Typically, I park in the back of the building for easy access, and there’s a handy set of stairs that comes directly up to my office. 

For the first couple of weeks, I tried to use the back stairs to the second floor, but the door handle wouldn’t turn or budge, so I started using the center stairwell, assuming that the door was kept locked.

After a few weeks, I was leaving after work with another woman, and she zipped over to the back stairway. I walked with her while lamenting that I had stopped using this stairwell because the door was usually locked. She smiled wryly and said, “This is a stationary handle. It doesn’t turn—just push the door.”

It was definitely a “duh” moment. However, the first-floor door handle TURNED. And my office door TURNED. And the doors and handles were exactly alike! So I had expected the handle to turn on the second-floor stairwell. 

Our Perception Coupled with Priming Influence Our Conclusions

It never ceases to amaze me how blindspots limit our perception and how we are so quickly conditioned to believe a certain way. This filtering is what is called psychological priming.

The fact is that every moment, our brains are filling in the gaps and prioritizing pieces of our present observations based on prior experiences. As we constantly try to make sense of the world, we often miss little bits of critical information for living a life of ease and happiness.

Heartmanity hallway entrance doorThe above story illustrates how one tiny fact escaped me and caused me to draw a false conclusion. After all, the door handle on the first floor and the door handle to my office turned—the same kind of heavy door, same wood, same style handle. My brain had drawn an inaccurate conclusion based on my experience.

We create our experience and the quality of our lives by our perception.

Perception defines our reality and determines the quality of our experience and how we feel. How we perceive our spouse’s tone and glance depends largely on conditioned perceptions and what we have decided before that exchange. Just as I had concluded the second-floor doors to the back stairwell in my office building were locked, we often decide things about people, the world, and ourselves that aren’t accurate.

Part of my work with clients and organizations is to help them remove their blinders and the filters that interfere with seeing the world with fresh eyes to gain greater self-awareness.

Years ago, I read a short story (perhaps in the Reader’s Digest) that is so relevant here. Two men traveled to India, representing a shoe company. The first salesperson called back to the states and said, “No sales opportunity; no one wears shoes here.” The second salesperson called and reported, “No one wears shoes here. Unlimited opportunity to sell shoes!” Life is a lot like this story.

What we see is what we get.

Perception and psychological priming influence our experiencesDo you perceive your marriage or your partner in a way that may be limiting love or intimacy?

How are you framing other people's behavior?

What are you telling yourself that may be untrue and is creating stress or lack of confidence at work? (I.e., a co-worker doesn't like you or your boss thinks you take too long on projects.)

What label have you formed in your mind (conditioning) about your child or teen at home or in your classroom that could be hindering a more respectful, loving relationship? (I.e., your teen is trying to make life hard for you or teenage rebellion is normal.)

I_Love to the extent we can seeWe all wear blinders. Blindspots are a part of being human. It’s one of those efficiencies of the brain that require greater mindfulness. This unconscious conditioning requires us to hit our refresh or reload button consistently. Why? Because everything you do repeatedly gets put on autopilot for greater efficiency by the brain!

Complaining can become a habit of negativity. If you look at yourself, your life, job, teen, or spouse negatively, chances are you won't be as happy. And the more you look for what's wrong, the more you'll find them. Then, collecting evidence to confirm what you suspect becomes an unhelpful habit or “primer.”

Try shifting to a positive perspective. Mindfully examine how you're summing up experiences throughout the day.

  • Set a positive intention for the day when you wake up.
  • When you catch yourself being negative, think of three more optimistic conclusions.
  • Name three things in the evening you did well today.
  • Validate your teen for their steadfastness in soccer or basketball even though the season is demanding.
  • Cuddle up with your partner and let them know how much you care. If they've been working too much, don't rag on them; instead, tell them how much you miss them. Then set up a date night!

Changing our perception is as simple as changing channels on a radio or TV. It just takes a moment, but it takes regular practice.

What channel do you want to be experiencing in your life? And what door will you open that you thought was locked?

For a life coach or relationship strategist, contact Heartmanity. Transforming lives is our business!

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Jennifer A. Williams / Emotional Intelligence CoachJennifer A. Williams / Emotional Intelligence Coach
Jennifer’s passion is to help people create thriving relationships first with themselves and then with each other. She teaches emotional intelligence skills and a step-by-step process that removes the obstacles to growth, loving connection, and communication. Her popular One Year Makeover and Return to Serenity programs provide a personalized approach to transformation. By utilizing brain science, clients integrate unresolved pain and restore inner peace and well-being through a fun learning experience. Jennifer also creates cultural transformation in companies with leaders and teams. Jennifer is happily married to her beloved husband and is the mother of three grown children.

Posted in Brain Fitness, Mindfulness and Perspective

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