Perception is not a passive process

When you see the word “perception,” you probably think about your physical senses. Yet perception is much more than the physical senses because it is affected by your subconscious selves. This realization is what is missing from both neuroscience and conventional psychology.

The affect of selves explains why you have so many people who are completely convinced of one viewpoint and as many people who are equally convinced that the opposite is true. Just look at people’s reactions to Covid vaccine or wearing masks. Or look at religious people versus scientific materialists.

Let us start by taking a closer look at what happens when you look at a tree. You have been told that light rays bounce off the tree and enter your eyes. Here, they hit the retina, and they are then transported by nerves into the visual cortex, the part of the brain that is linked to sight.

Even though this is an inaccurate description, it does point us in the right direction. Because it tells us that it is not your eyes that see, but your brain.

Your eyes are merely transmitting signals, it is your brain that takes the signals and turns them into a mental image. This shows us the following:

  • Your eyes do not see anything. They just transmit light rays. This is like a digital camera that takes pictures, but it has no idea what is on the pictures. To the camera, they are just signals.
  • What your retina transmits to your brain is not the actual light rays that enter your eyes. The retina converts these light rays into a kind of signal that your brain can receive. This is much like the image sensor in a digital camera that converts light rays into digital signals. It is these signals that are sent on to your brain.
  • Your brain takes the signals and turns them into a mental image. Yet your brain is not seeing the tree. Your brain lives inside a dark cave and never sees the light. This is like a computer that turns the signals from a digital camera into an image on the screen, but it doesn’t know what is on the image. To the computer, it is just signals.
  • Your brain really doesn’t know if the signals that reach the visual cortex accurately depict the tree. It can only see its self-created image of the tree. If the signals are distorted, the brain would never know because it cannot compare the image to the real tree.
  • Your brain only creates the mental image, it does not interpret what the image means.

Compare this to one of these traffic control centers that exist in larger cities. You have a number of digital cameras at busy intersections. The cameras transmit digital signals to the control center, where computers function like the visual cortex of your brain. They convert the signals into images that are displayed on a computer screen. The human operators look at the screens and decide whether to change the traffic signals to ease the flow of traffic.

Yet what happens in the control center if there are no human operators? The cameras are still working and the images are displayed on the screens, but if no one is watching, who is going to take action to change traffic?

Your visual cortex is comparable to the computer screens in the control center. It just displays an image, but if no one is watching, then what happens? So what is the equivalent of the human operators inside your brain? Well, it is that part of your mind that is beyond the brain.

Who makes the decision to react to a situation?

You might object that there are artificial intelligence programs on computers that are able to take the signals coming from traffic cameras and interpret if there is a back-up of traffic. Then, the program can automatically adjust the traffic lights to ease the flow. Thus, the computer can in most cases adjust traffic and only in extreme circumstances does the computer alert the human operator, who must then deal with a more complex situation.

Scientific materialists will say that this is exactly how your brain functions. Your brain will automatically interpret signals coming from your eyes and take action according to instincts. Yet they only say this because they do not have a higher understanding of the mind, and they do not have a higher understanding of the mind because they will not recognize that the mind is more than the brain.

The higher understanding is that your mind does function in a somewhat automated way, but what makes it function that way is the subconscious selves. They will take care of your reactions to many situations, and thus your reactions are partly automatic. Only in more extreme situations will the subconscious selves be unable to respond, and then a specific program awakens the conscious self so that you can make a decision as to how to deal with the situation.

Yet take note that even in this case, what the conscious self will see is what is filtered through the subconscious selves. This is comparable to someone hacking the traffic control center and displaying inaccurate images on the screens. Thus, you will in many cases not have an accurate or neutral view of the situation, making it more likely that you will not make the best decision.

The conclusion is that how the conscious self perceives any situation is influenced, potentially distorted or at least colored, by your subconscious selves. If you are to improve your Life Experience, you must weed out subconscious selves that distort your perception.

The four levels of subconscious selves

As we have discussed, there are four levels of your mind, and you have subconscious selves at all four levels. Some of these selves are specific to one level, others span all four levels.

What scientists call instincts are subconscious selves that are tied to the physical body. These selves are so integrated with the brain and nervous system that is is difficult to tell them apart. The reason for this is that they need to be able to react very quickly to dangerous situations. Many of these selves are not something you have personally developed. They were developed in the distant past and you inherited them with your physical body.

Imagine one of our forefathers walking through the jungle. He hears a sound and sees a shadow, and he must instantly evaluate whether this is the dear he wants for lunch or a saber-toothed tiger that wants him for lunch. In the latter case, he needs to take evasive action instantly. He does not have time to consciously evaluate the situation and weigh the pros and cons, he simply needs to jump in order to save his life.

The same when you are riding a bicycle. The bike begins to tilt to one side in a turn, and you don’t have time to consciously evaluate the situation. Your subconscious bike-riding program instantly sends a signal to your muscles, and you tilt your body to balance the bike.

Obviously, these kind of programs are very necessary and helpful. Yet consider that even such programs can have a downside because they are not flexible. Once programmed, they will cause your mind and body to always react the same way.

As an example, consider a person who starts playing tennis at a young age and eventually becomes a professional player. The person creates a number of programs aimed at evaluating how a ball comes at it, where the other player is on the court and how to hit the ball. Yet if a player always hits the ball the same way, the opponent can learn to anticipate this.

Why do some players become so much better than others? Because they are not playing exclusively on programs. They have learned how to go beyond the programs and make creative decisions that the opponent cannot anticipate. That is why they win the crucial duels that decide a tennis match.

Let us use this example to look at the emotional level. As a tennis player grows up it develops programs to deal with the emotional pressure of winning and loosing. In a critical phase of the match, these programs kick in, and a lesser player is dominated by a fear of loosing. This subconscious self pulls on its conscious mind and inserts a slight doubt in the ability to win. The better player has the same programs but has learned how to override them and either stay focused on winning or stay neutral and focus on the next ball.

At the mental level our tennis player has complex programs for evaluating individual balls, the opponents playing style and even overall strategies. If the person is under pressure, the programs kick in and causes the player to start thinking too much. The better player can override the tendency to think too much and stay neutral, allowing it to play more creatively instead of thinking about how to play.

At the mental level, the tennis player has a program that evaluates the person’s abilities compared to other players. In a critical situation, a lesser player will experience that the subconscious program pulls his conscious mind into trying to make peace with loosing. The better player stays focused on winning because it has accepted an identity as a top-level player.

Are your reactions automatic or creative?

You may have people you interact with every day at work. You have known them for years and you probably don’t even think about why you react differently to different people. Yet it is all down to your subconscious selves.

Imagine that you find yourself in a new situation. You have a number of subconscious selves that are programmed to react based on how you reacted to situations in the past. You have an overall self that evaluates the situation and then searches the subconscious database for selves that are programmed to respond to similar situations. This raises three questions:

  • Which self is selected for this particular situation and why was that self selected?
  • Is this situation so similar to past situations that you actually have a self that is suited for responding to this situation? Even if you don’t, a self will be selected and it will respond based on its programming.
  • The self that is selected has a programmed response, but is that how your conscious self wants to react to this situation? Maybe you want to do something different from what you have done in the past?

In any situation, there is a self at the physical level that evaluates: Is this situation safe or dangerous? Most people live fairly safe daily lives, meaning the self is normally dormant. Some people feel unsafe, which means this self is always active, leading to stress. This self is activated in new situations:

  • If the self evaluates that the situation is safe, it goes back to being dormant. Take note that this often happens below conscious awareness, and only in extreme situations is your conscious self aware of what is happening.
  • If the self evaluates that the situation is unsafe, it might take instant action based on the fight or flight response. Some people always react by fighting, but most people tend to flee from dangerous situations,. Only if the cannot get away, do they resist. Again, this often happens without you being conscious of it. The self simply takes over your reaction, which may not be what you want in the situation.

Likewise, you have selves at the emotional level that often determine how you feel about a situation. This is again based on how the self was programmed, depending on how you felt in similar situations in the past. If you have reacted with anger in the past, the self will flood your emotional mind with anger energy, and it will pull your conscious self into reacting with anger.

At the mental level you have a self that has an analytical “understanding” of the situation and a rational response to it. It may even be an appropriate response, but if your feelings are too strong, they will overpower your logical mind and the response is not activated. Even if your feelings are not taking over, your programmed response may not be what you want to do in the situation. It certainly will not help you respond in a new way or attain a deeper understanding of the situation.

At the identity level you have a self that defines how you have seen yourself in similar situations in the past. For example, you may have a tendency to submit to someone who has authority or is very aggressive. Yet if you are to change your Life Experience, do you really want to continue to identity yourself as a powerless person?

Our response to any situation, even to life in general, starts with our perception of our surroundings and specific situations. We now see that perception is not a passive process. It is a very active process where subconscious selves can have a deep impact on what filters through to your conscious mind.

Your conscious self will always react to situations based on what you perceive. So if what you perceive is distorted, you have a non-constyructgive foundation for evaluating a situation and deciding how you want to respond. You will be predisposed to react based on how you have reacted in the past, for that is what you subconscious selves want you do to.

Yet how is reacting the way you did in the past going to help you change your life? If you keep doing the same thing and expect different results, you are . . .

We will now look at how the subconscious selves create a mental image that is projected out from your mind and therefore in a fundamental way affects what you “see.”¬†How subconscious selves affect perception