Our brains are visually stimulated. Contrary to what the guy in the polka dot sports jacket and plaid tie at the other end of the bar would have you think, looks do count. Without a visual image it is often nearly impossible for us to imagine something. Don’t believe me? Watch this:
I bet you didn’t think of those three words as definitions in a dictionary. What breed of dog did you envision? Did you see a baseball cap, a Stetson or a fedora? Did you see a blue sky at noon, or a red sky at sunset? I told you it’s not easy to think without pictures being attached. And those were nouns, it gets even harder with adjectives.
Adjectives. Oh we haven’t heard that one since high school english. Why am I bringing them up now? Easy, because they are describing words. They solidify what we want when we think of what we want. Follow? Okay here’s an easy example. You say “I want a new car.”. In your mind, you draw an image of a factory fresh Dodge Charger. It’s so new that it’s somehow a 2014 model. Bright red paint with the black stripes and the HEMI logo on the hood. Yeah, that’s a new car alright! You’ll have to use some bad-ass adjectives to describe this one!
So what’s the problem? You want a new car, you have an image in mind but you feel like it’s getting further from your reach the harder you try. You go to work to be a productive member of society but you don’t have enough money for the decked out options you want. Or you have the money but they don’t carry the specific package you want. Or whatever. You did a bunch of positive thinking and all that did was get you excited with no actual results (same pattern as your last few blind dates…ha!). You’ve done nice things for people hoping that karma would give you an advance for your deeds. You even went to a prayer group and led the congregation in singing:
“Oh Lord, wontcha buy me a Hemi Charger.
My friends all drive Camaros, I wanna be faster than them.
Drove slow my whole life, the laughing never ends.
So Oh Lord, wontcha buy me a Hemi Charger.”
How attached are you to the image of the car? Is it locked in stone or are you open to things being slightly different? What if the car was a 2012? What if it had a 6 cd changer instead of a 42 cd changer (who knows what they’ll offer in 2014)? What if someone had it for a month, decided they didn’t like it and took it back to the dealership? Would you take it if everything else was the way you wanted? What if you suddenly realize that you like all black better? Or a different model? What if you had to wait an extra year but could get the exact package you wanted in the first place? A lot of variables to be sure, and some of them negate the semantic definition of “new”. And with a tunnel-vision outlook, those variables would ruin your image even though they all conspire to give you what you want.
The car example was fairly straightforward but the concept works with absolutely anything from people to jobs to food, etc. Regardless of what the focus is, the minute you lock onto a single image as the only possible solution, you lock out all other solutions. Last time I checked there were about 999 billion possibilities in the universe (don’t ask me where I checked). Is your love of adjectives going to stop you from seeing alternatives that lead you to roughly the same place? Or someplace better?
Regardless of who you are, where you live, where you grew up, what school you went to, etc, you are given a constant stream of gifts, blessings, solutions, opportunities, whatever you want to call them. Unfortunately, if you cannot recognize them for what they are, they are ignored. Behind you is a trail of unused and abandoned “presents” because your rational mind looked at something and could not fathom how to see it any other way that the blatantly apparent.
Before you start calling me a self-righteous motivational speaker wannabe, I’ll be completely honest and tell you that behind me is a maaaaaaassive pile of ignored and disregarded solutions and opportunities. It’s a huge pile! It makes one of those “Pick Your Part” junkyards look like a kids’ playground. I was such an infinite ass to people, Andrew Dice Clay demanded royalties for stealing his gimmick. Why they continued to talk to me I’ll never know. I’m not even going to get started on how many opportunities I missed out on. My focus was so far into the future, anything that was not 110% aligned with what I thought was the only path to where I wanted to be was cast aside, often with disdain:
Aside from being embellished for effect, those are real reactions I’ve had in the past. There is a very real danger from being steadfast to the image in your head, regardless of what the observable evidence is telling you. Sometimes the heart you think you’re following is really your ego in disguise. Think back five, ten, even fifteen years and remember people who may have been trying to help you and you couldn’t see it then. Think about opportunities. How many did you just not see because of that big ol’ picture in your brain of how it “should be”?
One particular image that we all need to get rid of is the fallacy of perfection. The perfect mate, the perfect vacation, the perfect wedding, the perfect house, the perfect town, the perfect whatever is all bogus. Nothing is perfect. Perfection is an endless trip, not a checkpoint. The illusion of perfection has caused more anger, depression and therapy sessions than any other image ever thought of in the history of humanity (Probably not statistically true, but it’s definitely a large contributing factor).
The perfect vacation will have rain and a flat tire. The perfect wedding will also have rain and surprise attendance from all your exes. The perfect house will have some hidden problem you didn’t notice on the walkthrough. The perfect town will give you a parking ticket and raise your taxes…on the same day. If you want a guy or girl to be your perfect match, guess what? They won’t be. Oh they may be up in the 90th percentile but there will be something that they do that grates on your nerves and begins to drive you batty. Not because they’re trying to but because your image is in conflict with the real thing.
Your ability to cope with these situations is inversely proportional to your attachment to the images, perfect or otherwise, harbored in your head. And the more open you are to what is in front of you means the more you have to work with in life. What you think is perfect may not be the best thing for you. Just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean the equation holds true for you…you’re a different variable.
So what have we learned so far?
- That being fixated on one possible result limits your ability to take advantage of the other possibilities.
- That perfection is a myth sustained by marketing departments, interior designers and modeling agencies.
- That you most likely already had everything you wanted and didn’t know it.
- That you have everything you want but don’t know because it’s wrapped in a different “package”.
My older friends always tell me that I’m young and I started figuring this stuff out early. To me, I find that statement funny since it still seems like an intolerably long time to be smashing your head into the wall in order to fit the square peg into the round hole. Getting older calms you down and it’s only with a bit of calm observation that duhhhhh you realize there’s a square hole also. But that’s how we’re programmed, especially in the United States. Move! Do something! If you aren’t busy, you’re taking up space! While nobody should lie around for 50 years straight, there is also something to be said for slowing down and making sure you are paying attention to everything around you.
Decide instead of reacting (I still have trouble with that one). Feel instead of forcing. If something tells you that the purchase, or the location or the person or whatever is not right for you, trust the feeling. Don’t start banging on the square peg to “make it work because it just has to”. Take a look around. I promise you’ll see a lot of things that you want just sitting there waiting.