How to make sense of reality? French Philosopher, Jean Baudrillard, mused that we live in a time which he calls “the age of the hyper-real” where the mere representation of an object has become more vital to us than the actual object. The concept of reality doesn’t refer to an object’s external reality, but a representation of it.
How to make sense of reality?
The way people regard reality these days is a result of how our natural mental process has evolved over time.
Today we’re going to look at the core of how the brain processes and perceives reality. One single person’s idea of reality is not all there is. To hold that kind of belief can seriously restrict a person from achieving goals and succeeding in life.
We have already looked at how the brain analyzes input from our senses and it determines what information would be pertinent for us to know. This natural filtering process is known as the reticular activating system or RAS.
The reticular activating system is vital to the process in that it prevents useless detail and mundane information from being absorbed by our brains. As we have already established, we are constantly bombarded by sensory input daily from the environment. The RAS helps to prevent a vast majority of this input from entering the brain.
RAS is key to understanding the world.
If we didn’t have RAS operating for us, we would experience mental chaos daily just because of the amount of sensory input.
Our brains have set up specific criteria to determine if a piece of sensory input is valuable enough to garner attention:
Is it essential for survival? – Input from our senses can determine our survival.
For example, smelling smoke while you are asleep, an abrupt change in temperature, incomprehensible, and sudden noises at your door in the middle of the night, an unidentifiable smell coming from your food.
Is it new or is it novel? – Among other things, your brain has the ability to remember the position and appearance of things that we see every day. When something seems out of place or if something has changed, our brain alerts us to the change. It also alerts us to changes in everyday common activities.
For example, you might notice keys missing from your key rack, trouble fully pressing down your car’s gas pedal or brake, or a picture hanging on the wall that’s not quite straight.
Content that has elicits an emotional response – Our senses are acutely tuned in to events having to do with the people we love or the things that matter most to us, such as a baby crying in the middle of the night or childhood smells that elicit pleasant memories.
The map-making ability of the human mind
Thus far we have explored various mental processes that speak to the brain’s ability to generate the mapping.
Your brain is equipped with the ability to remember knowledge and past lessons. Through this process, the brain creates dynamic images known as internal representations to assist us in remembering and analyzing experiences from our distant past.
Each internal representation (IR) is unique to us – each image is as unique as our personal experiences.
How each person navigates the realm of reality is unique and special to them.
Our own mind’s ability to generate a map is in direct correlation to our past education, personal values, personal beliefs, and the way in which we learn – whether visually or auditory.
These correlations are aptly referred to as mental lenses or fillers.
Mental fillers explained
Maybe you remember the expression, “seeing the world through rose-colored lenses.” This is a fitting illustration of what is meant by the term mental filler. Every person has a unique way of seeing reality – they view it through their own “rose-colored lenses” – and it’s slightly different from how others see reality. We can only understand true reality through our internal representations or our own “estimations.”
The reality that we see is not true reality, but what we imagine reality to be.
Examining mental fillers
How we are able to analyze the feedback from our experiences will determine our own path to success. In this manner, we are able to reorient how we see those around us and the world we live in.
Let’s say that you are not fond of participating in sports because you consider them to be “exhausting and depressing.” You can effectively challenge your own perspective on the subject and take on a new view – that participating in sports is actually a great exercise for your body because it relieves stress and burns a ton of calories.
When we get a better understanding of the internal representations of those around us, we will be able to more effectively influence and persuade others.
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Imagine for a moment that you are in a sales position and you are running into issues with a particular customer whom you know is ready to buy, but you just can’t seem to close the sale with them. Perhaps it might be advantageous to get a better understanding of your customer’s perspective on what makes a great product. Armed with this new information and perspective, you can go back to them with a fresh offer that will persuade them to make the purchase.