The Nature of Personal Illusions and the Minds Ability to Shape Reality
Posted On June 2, 2016
/ Written by Dr. Linda Gadbois
Our Mind is always Generating our Personal Reality . . . .
While many people have heard of the spiritual concept of Maya, or the mind’s ability to make up false realities that it then “lives out of” as though they’re real, we tend to think that this idea involves mental illness or dysfunction of some sort, yet in fact, this is a natural function of the mind that we all do naturally anytime we’re forming interpretations of something as a way of making them “mean” something. What things “mean” forms the basis for the story we tell ourselves about it as a way of fitting it into our paradigm (it’s a product of our paradigm) in order to create a consistent experience of what we call “reality”. One of the most fundamental errors we make in the general sense of things, is we don’t realize that everyone’s not seeing the same things that we are, and we believe instead that we’re experiencing a universal reality where everyone sees what we see in a person, situation, or event, and is experiencing it the same way we are. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
The illusion begins through how we interpret what is in fact a neutral and objective outer reality that makes it “about us” in some way. We interpret everything as a way of giving it meaning. What something means is what produces the necessary theme or basis for “our story”, and is what allows us to continue telling our story as a consistent theme about everything. The meaning we give random events or other people’s behavior, from the perspective of what we’re telling ourselves about what’s happening, is how we create our personal experience of it. While we don’t have anything to do with the reality going on around us, in terms of actually manifesting or creating it, how we perceive it as an interpretation of it, is completely our personal creation of “reality” as an “experience”. We are the sole creator of our experiences, which often has nothing to do with what’s “actually” going on in a situation.
We all develop what we come to call our “personal issues” out of our primary conditioning. Our conditioning forms “life themes” as dynamic patterns that express a certain type of meaning as a story line that we start telling ourselves about what’s happening, which serves to give us a consistent experience of a vastly dynamic outer, objective reality. Through this story that we tell ourselves as a means of translating the actions and intentions of other people to mean something about us, is a form of illusion that we create and superimpose over the actual reality that transforms it into being of the same nature as we are (it’s formed by our “issue”). We are the “center of our own universe”, experience everything from within our own mind, and in our story about things, everything evolves around us. Because of this tendency, we tend to take everything personally.
Our story as a theme serves as a template of sorts, and has a self-fulfilling quality to it. We can shape everything other people do in regards to or around us, or in relationship with us somehow, as being done intentionally “to” us. We imagine their behaviors to be intentionally directed towards us on purpose as the imaginary fulfillment of our story. Someone with the issue of “not being good enough”, for example, can interpret any number of behaviors displayed by others that they’re interacting with as being, once again, about them “not being good enough”. They twist everything in whatever way they need to in order to make it mean what they need it to mean. They can even misinterpret what is clearly complementary or praising, by questioning the motive, or somehow making it condescending, or empty flattery designed to (falsely) try and make them feel good, or make up for previous insults, and so on.
Whatever your issue is forms your primary theme as your perceptual lens and your means of forming consistent interpretations, and determines what you go into every situation expecting, looking for, waiting for, extracting and pointing out, and expounding upon. We only notice in any situation what lends itself to telling our story, and fail to notice anything that doesn’t. We completely ignore anything that contradicts our story, because we honestly can’t perceive it (in the natural sense), and we don’t know how to “tell ourselves” (live by way of) a different type of story. We don’t have a filter for it, and so we don’t recognize it for what it is. Even if somebody points it out as clearly contradicting our perception, we feel somewhat bewildered and confused by it, and will either disregard it, try and explain it away, or argue to defend our story as being right. We can’t conceive of it because it doesn’t fit into our model, and in being willing and able to consider it in its contradictory state, it would introduce doubt, and act to undermine or shatter our story. Because most are not willing to give up their story about things, because they’ve built their identity around it, they choose instead to ignore all contradictory evidence and defend their right to keep telling their story in spite of it.
We not only create our experience of life through our story, but we act on ourselves to shape ourselves by way of our story. Our “theme” evolves out of a series of repeated emotionally intense experiences that, as a child or young adult, we try to make sense out of by what we tell ourselves about them that give them meaning. Meaning creates on three levels simultaneously, the meaning we give things means something about other people and why they’re the way they are, about life and the world in general, and about “us” existing in relationship to it all. When people treat us “as if we’re not good enough” by criticizing us, talking down to us, calling us names, telling us we’re stupid, or being sarcastic and belittling, which we interpret as meaning we’re inferior and not good enough to be loved, admired, or accepted, and we develop an opinion of people and of life as being this way, and we develop an image of ourselves as being inferior, unwanted, and not lovable. This idea becomes a theme as a perceptual filter that we look through to “see”, and only see what matches it. Any neutral or borderline behavior, we simply “reinterpret” to still mean what we need it to mean in order to maintain our self-image. We can live our entire life experiencing everything out of this theme, usually without ever realizing it’s an illusion of our own making, and actually says nothing factual about other people or the way the world is, but rather simply reveals who we are and what delusion we’ve invested our sense of self into.
Because we build our self-image and identity as a person out of a story that we continuously told ourselves about things that created our experience of them, even when we briefly begin realizing it’s an illusion and not a fact, we can have trouble giving it up, because we don’t know how else to be. We don’t know how to tell a different type of story. The story we tell ourselves becomes a form of self-fulfilling prophecy, and we literally take on and accentuate the qualities and traits that we believe (or were told) “don’t make us good enough”. Meaning, we act out those behaviors in every aspect of our life, consistently giving people that impression of us. Because we believe our own story, and developed our sense of ourselves out of our story, and became the person in our story, we form a kind of love for it as our own creation, and will argue and defend our right to keep it, assuming others “don’t understand”, which, of course, they don’t. We don’t want to give it up because it’s who we are. What we want instead, is to be able to continue acting the way we are and believing what we’re believing, perceiving the same way, yet have someone or some situation treat us as if we’re good enough, usually without ever realizing that it’s impossible, because we’ll interpret even the best of behavior to mean whatever we need It to mean, or we’ll think they’re lying to us just to try and make us feel good, and usually respond by becoming angry, hurt, or offended.
So the ability of the mind to form personal realities as a delusion is the most common and natural function of the mind, and is something we’re all doing to varying degrees all of the time. The whole goal of spiritual development is learning how to control your mind, let go of your illusions as your “false image”, and realize your true identity and position within the cosmic scheme of things. What we call the “false ego” is the storytelling ability of the mind that runs in an automatic fashion, forming illusions as a child that becomes the “themes of adulthood”, which serve to create all of our experiences as a form of self-creation and self-projection, that’s based solely on a false assumption born out of emotional trauma of some sort that sets the whole process in motion as the reality of that emotion. Emotions are experienced strongly and deeply and use our subconscious mind to express through. Our emotions run our thoughts and create illusions in place of objective reality. Because the emotions are intense and immediate and command our mind by controlling our thoughts, imagination, and perceptual interpretations, we mistake them for being real, and allow them to shape us, and continue “using us” to express through. Most people live their entire life out of a dominant emotional state and a constant form of emotional reaction. Their emotions run them and they often have trouble realizing they’re not “true”, and act only to produce false realities that are very convincing, due to their intensity and the nature of the drama they create, which is very engaging and often addictive.
Once we can learn to see emotions for what they are, strong forms of physical stimulation with whole dramas inherent in them, and we can realize that the stories we started telling ourselves while in the midst of experiencing these emotions, as make-believe ideas that simply expressed the emotion at the time they occurred, and when the emotion passed, we kept telling ourselves that story as a way of keeping the emotion alive, by expressing out of it and giving us more of it. Emotions, which form our body chemistry and alter our state of mind by way of them, just like drugs, are addictive, and once we begin forming realities out of them as a life drama, they become habitual. They shape the patterns of our mind and form our mental perceptions, so that we’re always in the process of seeing more of that same emotion and the reality it naturally produces in everything around us. In this way we keep supplying ourselves with more of the same emotions, feeding our addiction and reinforcing our false beliefs.
If we can learn how to dissociate from our story, move out of being “in the experience” of it, and view it as an outsider watching it play out like a movie, where we’re not the main character, but simply playing one role in a larger story, and release our attachment to our “side” of the story, we can begin gaining a different perspective and see it from a different point of view. When we realize that other people’s behavior has nothing to do with us in the ultimate sense, but is simply a reflection of “who they are”, we can learn not to “take it personal” or internalize everything by going into a whole drama because of what other people do “to us” or “because of us”, and we can ask ourselves what does their behavior say about them? Not us. What’s going on in their life, or what issues do they have that’s causing them to be and do whatever it is they’re doing? If we could see another reason for what’s happening beside the one we give it that makes it “about us”, what would we see? What kind of a person do we become because of our story, and who would we be if we gave up our story? What kind of story would we tell if we were doing it on purpose? With full awareness of “who” and “how” we become by way of the story we live out of. If we could be anybody we wanted to be, who would we choose to be? And what qualities and traits would we need to attain and develop in ourselves in order to live out of a different type of story? What traits would we have to give up or act intentionally to transform (heal) in order to play a different role in our own life?
Once we take a position of reflecting on our own tendencies and realizing what and how we’re doing them, and what it is that triggers them, we can start becoming fully conscious and live our life in a deliberate manner of conscious self-creation. By gaining clarity on what our story is and when or why we began telling it, we can see it for the illusion it actually is, not because it’s “not true” or the events that formed it didn’t happen the way they did, but by realizing that our story is only one story or perspective on the same idea, out of which there are many. We can relive the memory while making a conscious choice to reinterpret it to give it different meaning, and therefore experience it in a different way, and replay it over and over in our imagination the way want it to go instead, and literally neutralize the emotional charge it has for us. Without the emotional charge, we can remain calm and centered in the same situations, and through our calm state, we can “choose” how we want to perceive it and respond as a result. As with all things in life, all psychological and emotional healing comes only through self-realization and awareness. We have to remove our focus from other people, self-reflect and realize our own tendencies. Once we do this, we can begin working on ourselves with full awareness of what we’re doing and why.
Linda is a scholar in Esoteric Sciences and holds a doctorate in Spiritual Sciences, and a BS in Clinical Hypnotherapy, along with numerous specialty certifications in various healing modalities. She's a certified Health and Success Coach, NLP Master Practitioner, and Board Certified in Regression Therapy. She's professional writer, artist, educator and Mentor, and offers a wide variety of Mentoring and Consulting Services, along with professional training programs. Her specialties include Personal Transformation, Self-Mastery, Spiritual Sciences, Transpersonal Psychology, and Integrative Mind-Body Medicine. For more info visit our Personal and Professional Services pages in the top menu bar of this site, or email us at: [email protected]