Do you know when you get a new car and all of a sudden you start seeing that same car when you are out driving? Do you think those cars were not there before, and then just showed up when you bought yours? Or might they have been there all along and you just didn’t notice because you were not paying attention to them? I’d venture to say they were there all along, however, your interest in that car was not as great until you had one yourself.
Philosopher and psychologist William James in 1890 wrote:
“Millions of items of the outward order are present to my senses which never properly enter into my experience.
Because they have no interest for me.
My experience is what I agree to attend to.
Only those items which I notice shape my mind.”
This begs the question, to what are you attending, what do you notice?
William James proposes:
- You experience what you notice.
- There are many things present that you do not notice.
This has me wondering what if there are things I do not notice that would cause me to have a different experience. I had the privilege of consulting with Paula* who thought of herself as “crazy” but as we talked and got curious about this, she began to notice that what she thought of as “crazy” was really no different than what was going on with other people. Paula then thought, “maybe I’m not so crazy, maybe I’m not as different as I thought I was.” This freed her up to experience life with more agency. Where before she thought there was something wrong with her, when expanding what she paid attention to, she began to realize that there wasn’t anything wrong with her. This led Paula to make some significant choices that altered lifelong practices.
Noticing and exploring that which stands outside our awareness can have a significant impact on our experience. Like Paula, we often convince ourselves that something is wrong, but when able to explore it further, realize that there are realities that we were unaware of. It is often these small awareness’s that lead to significant and meaningful changes.
If you would like to explore and attend to what may be outside your awareness and would like someone to accompany you on that journey, here is a link to where you could begin.
*Name changed for privacy.