Have you ever stared at an optical illusion so hard that your eyes start to hurt, yet still been unable to see the truth within until someone gave you a hint?
The reaction you feel when it suddenly appears before your eyes is fascinating. A mix of surprise and slight embarrassment, you can’t believe you missed it all along!
Don’t feel bad. It’s not meant to be easy. The designer of the illusion is trying to turn your brain against itself.
As Anil Seth demonstrates in his outstanding TED Talk, using the biological mechanisms that keep us alive to shift or obscure reality isn’t difficult to do. After all, reality is only a hallucination.
Sounds bizarre, doesn’t it? The notion that our conscious reality is defined by with Seth calls “predictive perception”; a neurological estimate of what may exist outside ourselves constructed by billions of neurons reacting to an overwhelming amount of data and trying to make sense of it the best it can. In essence, we’re creating our reality from the inside out.
Seth’s research leads him to believe that consciousness has to do not with our pure intelligence, but more with our nature as living, breathing organisms.
From a neurological standpoint, I completely trust his research. But what I’m interested in is how we redefine our conscious reality. How we move beyond our basic instincts in the pursuit of our callings. Our great work.
In the pursuit of your great work, do you often feel forces conspiring against you? Feelings of resistance? Feelings of fear?
These are the responses of the biological machines designed to keep us safe. They want to keep us away from what we fear. Protect us from the challenges we choose to face knowing that they will redefine our world.
They want us to fail. It’s nothing personal. It’s just their job.
We will never conquer these machines. We shouldn’t even try.
What we should do, however, is fight them back just enough, day by day, to make forward progress.
It’s a much more difficult process than interpreting an optical illusion. It takes much more time and, in the end, only you can solve it for yourself.
Yet I don’t think they’re all that different. Somewhere, hidden behind that which is designed to mislead you, to lead you astray, is your truth.
Stare it down.
Don’t look away.
And you will find it.