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By J. B. Cowling...

Our actions are influenced by the way in which we view the world.

As you are reading this, you are not merely internalising the data, you are filtering it, deciding whether it’s important or just a waste of time (that you will read anyway, because well, that’s the joy of procrastination, the dishes can wait). You are using a lens, a filter for incoming information that influences the way in which you interpret, analyse and assign meaning to what you are experiencing.

Sometimes the lens of ‘feeling shit’ is needed or sometimes the lens of ‘getting things done’ is needed.

Filtering information helps us to make sense of what’s going on, to relate it to our current understanding and find it’s place within our world. The deterioration of international diplomacy may fall into the category of ‘hopelessness for the future’, a friend having a baby could be a ‘wake up call’ for our own life or you could see that running out of milk for your morning coffee is a reflection of your ‘inability to plan’. Regardless, the event is not merely an event. We utilise this internal mechanism to subconsciously manipulate data in order to generate understanding, avoid overwhelm and continue to function in what can seem to be, a crazy world.

One of the easiest ways to understand how this works is to imagine the signposts that we use when driving, in particular the ones that tell us the distance to different destinations. They help us to make a judgement of where we are based upon our relativity to other places. We too do this with new information, we see where it fits in relation to things that we already understand, to our ‘reference points’ at any given time. Our lens influences how we appraise new information in accordance to existing beliefs, interests, values, opinions and experiences. In understanding this, we can become aware of the influence that our lens has, the bias that it places on the way we see things and how it impacts our response.

There’s no right lens, just some of them serve us better than others in different situations. Sometimes the lens of ‘feeling shit’ is needed or sometimes the lens of ‘getting things done’ is needed. These individual lenses meet particular needs at the time, however if they remain consistent, can become more of a hinderance. If we identify that the lens we are using is unhelpful, we can work on reframing it. This comes down to personal attitude, which is how you choose to respond to what has occurred. A healthy attitude is one which uses or reframes the experience to best serve in the situation.

The questions that we ask ourself are the foundation of making change as they allow us to bring subconscious thoughts to our awareness. In this context, try these questions to create a rough picture:

  • What lens am I using?

  • How is this impacting me?

  • What do I need?

  • Is there a more useful lens?

It can often be hard to alter your lens, it takes committed awareness and flexibility. The more you become aware and practice reframing, the more you will naturally alter your lens subconsciously where needed. But when you do get a chance to reframe your lens, choose one that adds value, one of self-power, a lens of giving or one of being kind to yourself.

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