Clean up that lens

“The world is so bright I gotta wear shades!”

What lens are you choosing to see the world through?

We all have our own unique worldview perspective, brought on by our default programming. This programming creates a filter through which we see the outside world. And based on this filter, our magnificent brains will constantly work for us, gathering evidence to prove that our perspective is true!

I’m going to level with you. My own lens has not been so crystal clear, and pretty. I’ve been curious to uncover what’s driving my perspective. I wanted to learn just what kind of lens I view the world through. All with the intent to find a clearer path to more joy, and true inner peace. So I started paying attention to the automatic thoughts that run through my mind. I chose to observe the default programming that I fall back on, whenever I’m not being mindful. And what I discovered, was that I see the world through a lens of defense. I tend to see the world as a threat that I need to fight against. I’ll even find myself getting into imaginary fights with others, all in my head, as if I’m practicing for my strategic defense in a future court of law!

Some people with a similar worldview perspective actually go out and fight with others in real life and online. Road traffic, nightclubs, check-out lines, and mall parking lots, are all places where they can jump to defend themselves against all of those opponents out there. They view those others as existing solely to aggravate them. That’s when insults, raised voices, fists, and sometimes worse, come out for their defense. And then social media is just a way to fight with others online, reaching countless more that are beyond their physical reach. Have you noticed how it’s nearly impossible to spend more than a few minutes on Twitter before you start to see what seems like an online version of a schoolyard brawl? Well… the schoolyard brawl is probably more mature!

Now, from the outside, I seem to be a peaceful man. I am a pacifist by practice in my conduct online and in real life. You see, I don’t actually fight with people outside of my own head, so I’m safe from things like broken noses, misdemeanor charges, and twitter wars… but just the same, because I’m still fighting in my imagination, I’ve suffered from the same raised blood pressure, upset stomach, and lack of peace that you get from always being on the defense!

Defensiveness. That’s the grimy lens that I’ve chosen to look through. But I’m sure you can realize it’s not the only lens out there that isn’t a beneficial choice. Sadly, I’ve witnessed other types of mucky lenses that people in my life have chosen to look through, and they equally bring them nothing but unrest.

I have a friend who seems to see the world through a lens of “not good enough.” She’s primed, ready, and on the lookout to see just how any given thing, experience, or person has not lived up to her standards… and therefore, is simply not good enough. Step into her orbit, and you better get ready to hear the complaints! Then be sure to realize that hanging out with her means you’re now on the clock, and it’s your job is to alleviate her devastating disappointment in the world around her. p.s. You’re doing a terrible job at it. But rest assured, she’ll let you know!

I know someone else who sees the world through a lens of artistic criticism. He chooses to be the Simon Cowell of his life. You know, that guy from the OG American Idol? Simon was the judge equipped with an ever-ready harsh critique, as well as an ever-tight v neck t-shirt. Thankfully, my friend usually steers clear of the tight v necks, but unfortunately, he still feels compelled to be a constant critic of life. In fact, most everything coming into his experience needs to be graded, judged, and ultimately opposed. It seems like nothing can just be accepted, as is. Even the opinions of others seem solely to be there for him to critique. His perspective is that if they are not in line with his view, then they must be demonstrated as opinions that are sub-par, or even invalid.

Now, these are some harsh examples of perspectives, I know… But the fact is, we are all living with some version of them, or even worse. That is, until we question them. Yes, even you, dear reader, have some kind of lens that you see the world through. And this lens might very well be distorted by a kind of lack-driven default programming. Which certainly dictates how you participate with the world around you.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t because of some nefarious plot against us all. This programming starts out as a way to protect us, and to give us the most automatic way to maintain our inner peace and a joyful life experience. There’s just too much data to take in, and it is incessantly being offered from the expanse of this incredible world, so our brains need a way to filter out most of it, and then only filter in what we choose to experience. But as babies, when we start viewing and assessing the new world around us, early traumas, and even well meaning adults passing on their own warped programming from their early traumas, start to add grime to the lens that we’re looking through. And so, more often than not, the default programming we develop, creates a filter that is not the most ideal for bringing us that inner peace and joy.

There are two ways to change this situation. Two approaches to cleaning the lens, so to speak.

One way is to question your automatic thoughts when they arise. Byron Katie has devoted her life to helping others as she helped herself, through a system she developed that she calls “The Work.” Essentially, through “The Work”, she calls us to bring inquiry to any thought we have with four simple questions:

Is it true?

Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

How do you react when you believe that thought?

Who would you be without that thought?

When I started noticing my default thoughts, i.e that this person, or that organization was out to get me, and that I needed to fight against it… I actively started to pose the questions of “The Work” on these thoughts… and amazingly the thoughts just vanished! I didn’t have to wrestle them to the ground for them to release me. Honestly, I was prepared to battle these negative thoughts, all for my peace of mind. (notice how I still want to fight? – even my thoughts!) Instead, this line of inquiry seems to get the thoughts to release their grip on me, and disappear. Am I cured? No. I have a lifetime of programming to question. But I have this wonderful system to help me.

Another effective way for cleaning your lens perspective, is to develop an Attitude of Gratitude. For me, I start each morning, and end each evening with thoughts of gratitude. I figured that if mental programming was running my life, and if somewhere along the way I was programmed to think the world was out to get me… which really sucked… then I can just as effectively program my mind to start seeing all that I am grateful for, and to do it right at the start of my waking day, and then again at the start of my trip into dreamland. The result? Viewing the world as one filled with all the things I am so grateful for, is the opposite of suck! It’s bliss.

Questioning your thoughts, and having an Attitude of Gratitude will change your default programming, and it will clean up the lens you see the world through. When you start to feel the relief from dropping that programming, and from cleaning up that lens, you can start to find the inner peace that you think maintaining that programming was supposed to give you in the first place.

But above all else, be easy on yourself. Even though these analogies are fun and cute, we’re not computers or cameras. We’re much more complex and beautiful. And we all deserve peace, joy, and to look out at the world through eyes of love.

There is much love here for you. ~ FoxZM

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