Changing Your Life Path Means Changing How You See The World
If you want to change your life path, you can’t bring your old reality with you. If you want to sail around the world, you can’t still be thinking that the world is flat. If you want to move into the corner office, you can’t be thinking you’re not good enough, or that it’s no place for a woman, or that leadership means dominating your subordinates.
We look at the world through filters or lenses that shape what we see. Conservatives see the world differently than liberals; the devout differently than the secular, and; the empirical differently than the intuitive.
Such lenses are obvious but lenses also exist at a less conscious level. We may look through a hierarchical lens— “people are better/less than me”; or a scarcity lens— “there’s not enough”; or a threat lens— “they’re out to get me.” Debilitating yet common lenses include “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not worthy,” and “I’m not lovable.”
Lenses determine how we see reality. Our view of reality influences how we behave. If you’re lucky enough to operate with powerful lenses, your life may be working out quite nicely. If not, your life may be awash with suffering.
Note that unless we’re trained, we don’t generally choose the lenses we use; they are the gifts of our genes, upbringing, and circumstances.
Your new life path likely requires a new set of lenses; that is, new ways of perceiving yourself and the world. If so, and you step onto your new path with your old lenses still intact, there is a good chance that there will be a collision of realities. If so, you may slink back to your old path, defeated.
Your reality v. your point-of-view
Let me sharpen my definitions first. It is common to hear people say “My reality” or “my truth.” Using the words “reality” and “truth” in this way is misleading and often leads to fights or arguments. Both words explicitly mean real or true—that is, that the events they are describing are factual and have an objective existence. It makes no sense to use either term as if they were different for different people. You can’t have your reality or truth, and I have mine. A fact is true or it is not. Reality is real or it is not.
However, each of us has our unique perceptions and interpretations of reality and truth. In fact, we cannot apprehend reality as it is—we can only apprehend it as an interpretation. Anything that happens in the world is brought into our consciousness via biological structures (consciousness, itself, is a property of biological structures). These structures only provide a simulacrum of reality. Read this article for a quick summary of how we apprehend reality; for good examples of how our biological structures can misinterpret reality, see The Dress and The Monkey Business Illusion. For an example of how we psychologically misapprehend reality, see my free guide, “The First Step to Power.”
Your story is not reality
Instead of “my reality” or “my truth,” it is far more powerful to use “my point-of-view” or “my interpretation/story.” These terms have the benefits of making it clear that we are speaking from our experience and not that we have a lock on truth or what is “right.” Using these terms also frees us up to change our point-of-view if a new one would serve us better.
You generate your POV, in part, by looking at the world through contextual lenses—lenses shaped by your genes, culture, and personal experience. Take, for example, lenses that were common a century ago: a woman’s place is in the home; women are weak and emotional; it’s a man’s duty to defend the country; men are strong and stoic. These lenses led to specific points-of-view regarding gender roles, which led to specific cultural and behavioral norms.
Today, we look at genders through very different lenses, which lead to different POVs, which, in turn, produce very different cultural and behavioral norms.
The same dynamic operates at the personal level: one kind of lens produces a POV that produces certain behaviors and expectations and thus certain results.
Relating to reality
You relate to your point-of-view (POV) as if it were true. You deploy a host of cognitive biases to confirm or substantiate your POV. Evolution has wired your body to get angry, righteous, arrogant, or whatever anytime your POV is challenged or threatened.
Take a look. Every argument you have ever had, I bet that you argued for the “truth” or “rightness” of your POV—mistaking your POV for reality.
Get the absurdity of this. Our POV is a biological and psychological fabrication of a reality we can’t know and yet we go to war—in the streets and in the bedrooms—in defense of it.
Your first step to personal power is to understand that your POV is just that—your point-of-view and not reality.
Changing your life path and your POV
What does your POV have to do with your changing life path?
Because how you interpret reality determines how you behave and what you see as possible.
If you see yourself through the lens of “not good enough,” you are not likely to aim for the corner office. If you see the world through the lens of “the world is against me,” you are not likely to be open and vulnerable. If you see intimate relationships through the lens of a power struggle (domination/avoid domination), you are likely to get into fights.
When you choose a new life path, you need to align your lenses with it. If your lenses remain aligned with your old path, you could run into problems.
I had a client once who wanted to be a motivational speaker. Her difficulty was that she was a wallflower. She was too fearful to introduce herself to strangers, much less market herself; she quailed at being on stage, and; she wouldn’t smile at you unless you smiled first.
You can imagine that with the “being” of a wallflower, her new life path was going to be a challenge. We poked around in her various lenses and quickly discovered that she saw herself as “not important.” Seeing yourself this way would make leaping on a stage a deliver a rousing motivational speech difficult.
The key feature of a lens and a POV is that it is made up—it is not real. And since it is made up, you can change it. Changing your lens is your superpower. It takes time; it can feel awkward and inauthentic at first, but with practice, you can change it.
My client came to see herself as a gift to others. Suddenly she was smiling at everybody.
This is your superpower. The degree to which you can distinguish your lenses and swap out the ones that are not working for you for lenses that do—is the degree to which you can change your life path to create the life you want.
Get started on your new life path
The lenses you use can be so embedded in your understanding of the world that you cannot see them—and even when you do, changing them is difficult. It can be like trying to see blue when you are looking at red.
But it can be done.
If you are ready to launch yourself on a new path in life—and are having trouble making it happen or would like an assist, contact me today.
This essay is the fifth in a series about finding your Life Path. Find the first in this series here.