Chapter 2, part 10, Perception and Focus, The Paradigm

So now that we know why the news always report bad stories, let’s look at the implications it has on the human psyche. To do this we need to really dig into what this chapter is about, perception.

Read the below over a couple of times until you really understand what I am trying to portray. This is the key to this chapter, and in many ways, the key to understanding life. Everything I have talked about so far revolves around this:

‘The way that you perceive your reality, is your reality. Fact and proof have no bearing here. If you believe it is a truth then it is a truth until you yourself believe otherwise’

The coolest thing about this knowledge is that it places you as the observer. By looking from the outside in, you can begin to understand your psychology. If you do this without the overwhelming presence of your ego (essentially looking at life without heightened emotions or triggers from your past) you can question whether your reality reflects your truth. And what is truth? In the end this is up to you, but mostly, the truth is what you can see without influence and coercion from others. It is also what you see without influence and coercion from yourself.

How can you influence and coerce yourself? By letting previous emotional triggers (which are contained within those little 100 trillion neurotransmitters in your brain that were created around your experiences) and heightened emotional states get in the way of your objectivity. And this is where it gets exciting.

Once we observe our ego and look within ourselves, we can have the power to change our own perspective. It is only then that we are no longer driven by the machine, but instead, control it. From here we don’t see the world as good or bad, we just witness the balance between both and accept the paradigm.

Once this is done affectively, questions immediately follow old prior belief systems. Sayings such as ‘I am always depressed’, ‘the world is a bad place’, ‘people are evil’ and so forth may still pop into the mind, though they are closely followed with the question ‘why did I just state that?’ This is just the first question in a line of important queries which unravel how your mind works. Other questions which open up the mind revolve around ‘where did this statement/belief come from?’ and ‘does this statement/belief reflect my current position in life?’

By asking the above questions from a non-personalised or emotionally linked position, you can start to realise how much of your perception is tainted by previous experiences from your past.

Reality Jamie Lee Woodman a.k.a The Lonely Spaceman

Chapter 2, part 9, Perception and Focus, The old lady and the 6 o’clock news

It’s now time to talk to you about the old lady and the 6 o’clock news.

Beyond my philosophical outlets I also work in an age care residency. It’s a rewarding job though it can be soul destroying to watch people that you consider friends tackle the debilitating process of aging. Part of my role is to understand what my residents are going through psychologically, and then aiding them to find a purpose within their final years. You may even say that I try to give them a meaning in life.

As you can imagine, speaking about neurotransmitters, pain/pleasure balance, quantum mechanics and meditation doesn’t work with this crowd. Yet giving someone a purpose is often the greatest gift one can give.

I specifically remember a discussion I had with one beautiful elderly lady. Let’s call her Audrey (I have deliberately changed her name for obvious reasons) and she spent a lot of time in her room watching TV. I was talking to her one night whilst she was watching the news. She stated the following.

‘This world is a horrible place full of hate, anger and bad people. There is so much war and death in the world that it’s too dangerous to go outside anymore.’

I had heard similar things from various residents that liked to watch or read the news. These people were hearing about horrible atrocities that occurred around the world each day, and eventually, it became more than just day time viewing, it was their reality. The statement ‘I am glad I am dying soon given the current state of the world’ was spoken way too often by different voices. And it’s not just the elderly that say such things as I also hear it over the dinner table, even if it is just a passing comment. This was unsettling for me, and it certainly got me thinking about what we focus on and how it becomes our perception of reality.

To analyse this let’s start off with the obvious question. Why does the news focus on the worst things that happen in this world?

Obviously the media do this for a reason. They have worked out that bad stories which are full of pain, suffering and violence sell much more than cute stories about bunnies and teddy bears. But why does grief gain our attention more than other light and fluffy tales?

Fear, worry, doubt and any threat to our security has an emotional and physical effect on our body. It makes us alert and more focused than if we were relaxed and happy. This is a natural part of our defence mechanism that is stimulated when we ourselves are threatened.

Imagine walking through the park on a sunny day, listening to your Ipod without a care in the world. How much attention are you paying to your surroundings? Do you notice when people are passing by? Do you focus on details? The answer to these questions are more commonly no, and the media are aware of it.

Now let’s change the scene to a dark alley in the middle of the night. Because danger is a possibility you would be focused, alert and prepared for anything to happen. The Ipod would be turned off as you require all senses to pick up possible dangers. This is the type of stimulus that the media like tapping into.

Emotions are much more than annoying games that the mind plays on us. They are an evolutionary response caused by the brain that tells us when things are wrong and when they are right. Furthermore, they send a message to the body to prepare itself if required.

Let’s use the alleyway example. Your mind firstly notices that there could be danger ahead which converts your emotions to fear. The fear makes you worry about what might happen in the future and doubt the sensibility of walking down such an area. Your emotions now send a message to the body to be prepared for the worst. This is all happening subconsciously. Automatically your heart begins to race faster which pumps your blood around the body at a rapid state. Your muscles tense up, your breathing becomes shallow, and as an effect of all these things you may begin to sweat and your mouth become dry. Your focus is now on the present moment. Yesterday and tomorrow are distant thoughts. To make things worse, if you see a shadow or something move, your heart beats faster, your muscles tighten further, and your body may even begin to tremble. Your mind now needs to decide whether to fight or flight.

Take two deep breaths and relax…

Now that you are relaxed think of a hurricane completely destroying your house tomorrow whilst you are at work J If you have children they were safely out doing something interesting. If you work at home imagine you went out for a coffee when this occurred. If you don’t drink coffee have a tea. If you don’t drink tea stop being a smart ass and let’s continue with the scenario J

One of the most important emotions is security. The house/apartment/money/assets and so forth are all a big part of this in most people’s lives. The simple idea of losing a home can create anxiety and lead to pain, worry, fear and doubt. The media know this and have done their homework.

So why do the media report scary stories that threaten your security and way of life? Because it creates an evolutionary response that makes you sit up, pay attention, focus, think and at times, even react. If there were fluffy bunnies within the press of a button you would most likely not change the channel. They don’t make you alert. You will not be focused. And more importantly you will not stick around between commercials. This being said, if you hear about terrorists, disasters, things that affect your freedom and/or might be a danger to your kids, it is harder for you to turn away.

To make things worse, the news channels, magazines and newspapers are all in competition with each other to see who can make you feel more scared. The most frightening headline which eradicates your security will be the largest selling, viewed and purchased media that day.

Basically, this all means that the media’s job is to make you crap your pants. The more fear driven you are the more likely you are to buy their product. As the saying goes ‘it’s a dog eat dog world’. Governments and businesses use these tactics regularly. This might have sounded like a conspiracy theory a while back, yet now the media report on the government’s tactics of manipulation every week. It’s just a pity that they don’t discuss their own.

Next week we will talk about the broader effects that the news has on a person’s reality and why it is only a limited perspective on life.

Evolution Jamie Lee Woodman a.k.a The Lonely Spaceman