More than Meets the Eye The shame of limiting judgement BY: Troy Murphy | July 2017
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There is more; more to others; and more to ourselves. We don’t see it all because we can’t see it all. We formulate a picture from a dim snapshot blurred by bias. We lean on this limiting view as if it is reality. We see the prominent lines and colors, missing the underlying textures; beneath the rough exteriors resides the meat of reality, all the finite details we can’t possibly examine. We gather information then act, fighting any conflicting opinions that question our enslaved motives. But perceptions are incomplete, and often completely wrong. The wise purposely work to clarify perceptions, digging for missing facts, and considering conflicting data. But even wisdom fails; we still must exist with incomplete knowledge. Complexity limits completeness.
Painful experiences, we believe no longer exists. The past hides in the shadows of the present, disrupting and coloring reality. From these biases, our mind rearranges the present to create a reality fitting our personal narrative; the mind smoothly excludes, manipulates and changes unacceptable facts. We skillfully distort reality. Numerous modules and systems within the brain process the constant flowing inputs of experience; the voluminous sorting of data exceeds the capacity of working memory, much of experience never enters consciousness. Like a flashlight, attention focuses on select pieces of information, often concentrating on areas supporting pre-conceived beliefs; potentially helpful and important information, passed over by attention resides in the dark corners of the mind.
Through manipulation of data, no matter what the experience, we tend to maintain the same beliefs; our thoughts of self, whether smart or stupid, beautiful or ugly, success or failure all are supported by experience. The same experience may trigger shame or pride depending on our underlying belief and the thought manipulation of the experience.
This distorted reality is useful. A positive self-image boosts confidence and assists coping with the inevitable pains of being human. At times, narrowing vision directs focus to areas we can change, instead of being overwhelmed and freezing in fear. But deeply entrenched distortions may also limit growth, limiting access to necessary knowledge, diminishing ability to relate to the outside world.
So what can we do? We can’t simply feel, see and acknowledge what previously was hidden. We can’t act from knowledge we don’t possess.
"Through manipulation of data, no matter what the experience, we tend to maintain the same beliefs; our thoughts of self, whether smart or stupid, beautiful or ugly, success or failure all are supported by experience."
Growth requires explorations into the unknown; both pleasant and unpleasant. We must accept uncertainties, dismissing comfort of complete knowledge to warmly welcome new knowledge. The richness of living stems from deepness, not from the confining walls of certainty. Openness to a variety of emotions, novel experiences, and intimacy of connection invites newness, expanding patience, and skeptical questioning preconceived notions. With examination we can discover some discomforting realities; and previous distortions begin to fade. Only through awareness do we courageously face weaknesses and improve. Acknowledging personal selfishness, fears, and unrealistic expectations may initially heighten discomfort. But blindness to personal weakness compounds the weakness with poor choices. Our blindness destroys relationships and dismisses opportunities.
Our snapshot of reality may still be distorted but new images will begin to take shape. We will discover elements we missed, and weaknesses to be addressed. Life will imperfectly continue forward but with a few notable adjustments. The confining walls will begin to dissolve providing greater opportunities for connection, growth and happiness.