For seven or eight years of my life, I knew Santa was real. After all, he came to my house every Christmas night so I had no reason to believe anything else. All of my experiences until that point in my young life had reinforced the messages my parents had shared with me. There were the presents that he left. The cookies that he ate and the milk that he drank. There were the letters that I wrote to him, his visits at the shopping centre, and the TV shows where I saw Mrs Claus and the elves preparing my presents for the sleigh and Santa’s big trip on Christmas Eve
… So, you can imagine the devastation when boys at school told me that Santa wasn’t real and then Mum and Dad confirmed my worst fears. I was shattered. What would I do now that Santa wasn’t real ? Was it really true ?
I’m no psychologist but I do know that our reality is not always reality. It is one of the presuppositions of NLP – that we respond to our experience, not to reality itself. You see, we are bombarded every second by millions of bits of information. Information that is sourced by our senses. What we see, what we feel, what we hear, what we taste and what we touch. The brain can’t consciously process all this, so the unconscious mind deletes, distorts and generalises this information for storing. For example, one person may have a visual preference in the way they process information (and therefore notice these things more) whilst another person may notice sounds more. So our Reticular Activation System (RAS) takes note of our sensory preferences and this affects what information we delete, what we distort and what we generalise. (Want proof of this – have you ever bought a car and then noticed suddenly how many of those cars are on the road. You can’t believe you never noticed them before. That is your RAS filtering more of those examples into your perception).
And not only does the unconscious mind filter according to your sensory preferences, it also filters according to your values, your beliefs, your personality preferences and so on. That is, our upbringing, our personality and our environment affect how we delete, distort and generalise the information we take in every second.
And ultimately all this information is chunked down into 5-9 bits of information that we consciously take in (in our shorter term memories). It is like having 2 million toothpicks falling from the ceiling every second and you can only grab 5-9 toothpicks. What do you think the chances of you grabbing the same 5-9 toothpicks as your best friend are ?
When our reality is not reality ?
Do you think this understanding explains why 2 people remember the same event differently ? Even more so when you consider that every memory is stored in the brain as an internal representation (IR) – an image that has the sights, sounds, smells, feeling, emotions and self-talk attached to that memory – all of which could be different between two people even for the same identical event / memory. Does it help you understand that our reality is our reality only because of our perception of it. We all see the world differently. Your reality may not be the actual reality or the only reality.
Can you see that your reality can change ? Can you see how in changing your perception of an event (eg the emotions attached with it) that your reality can change. A past event can not have as much an emotional stronghold over you. A future event cannot seem so fearful. Is it time for you to accept that there is another reality ?
When Our Truth is a Myth
Let me go one step further. Sometimes we arrive at a point on our journey only to discover that our truth is actually a myth. A story we’ve been told. A story we’ve told ourselves. A lie we’ve bought into. Sometimes, things aren’t as they seem. Or, again, as we see them. Sometimes, the only place something is real is in our head. Sometimes, we believe what’s comfortable while ignoring what everyone else already knows.
Is it time for you to let go of your Santa so you can move forward ?