We frantically search for our "lost" keys that are lying in plain sight on kitchen counter. We don't we see keys. Why not? Because we already decided "the keys are not there." And once we make that decision, we create a blind spot in our awareness. The result is that we don't see keys where we don't expect them to be.
If we miss seeing keys out in open because we decide keys aren't there, what else could we be missing because we decide it's not there? Could we be "blind" to other possibilities and opportunities that are right under our nose?
What's New, Pussycat?
A mind-blowing scientific experiment reveals how early physical environment of kittens determines what they are able to see-and not see-as they grow up. Two-week-old kittens are placed in a room with walls painted with vertical stripes and kept there as they mature. Almost from moment they are able to see, kittens live in an environment of vertical stripes. Later, cats' world changes. They' re removed from their vertically striped surroundings and placed in a room painted with horizontal stripes. Surprisingly, our furry felines don't see horizontal stripes. Bang! They run right smack into walls painted with horizontal stripes, time and time again. Why? Scientists discovered that because cats don't have horizontal stripes in their environment as they grow up, brains of cats don't develop neurons that recognize horizontal stripes. So when elements they've never been exposed to appear in cats' world, their brains don't register new elements in their environment. Yikes! Could we be unable to recognize elements in our current environment because those elements were missing when we grew up? Yes, we could! But before we look for aspects of life we might not be seeing, let's look for aspects we might not be hearing as well.
What'd You Say?
Studies with babies reveal how early auditory environment of babies determines what they are able to hear-and not hear-as they grow up. Research shows that young babies have ability to hear full range of vocal sounds produced by speech of all human languages in world. But then, babies are raised hearing only narrow range of speech sounds within their social environment. Eventually, because they hear solely speech sounds found within one culture, babies lose their ability to distinguish full range of vocal sounds found in all human cultures.
This explains why Japanese children are unable to pronounce English "r" sound that does not exist in their native language. "The common result," according to a researcher at University of California, "is essentially that if perceptual experience is limited, one will not be able to perceive things outside that experience." This is why, in everyday life, we're not able to recognize-or "hear"- concepts that we weren't exposed to in our upbringing.
Casting a Spell of Limitations
We all grow up in families and societies where we are only exposed to a limited view of life-like kittens only viewing vertical stripes and babies only hearing speech sounds from their social environment. Our " stripes" consist of a limited range of cultural patterns of sights and sounds. These cultural patterns give signals to brain that tell us "the way life is" within that limited environment. And brain mistakenly "thinks" it knows "the way life is" outside of that narrow-minded environment.
Growing up in a limited environment has a comparable effect to being hypnotized. For example, when people are hypnotized, they can be told that certain elements exist or don't exist in their environment. With hypnotic suggestion, a person can be told that there are no red books in a bookstore. And, even though many of books are red, person won't see any red books. The hypnotic suggestion creates a blind spot, or filter, in person's perception of world.
Similarly, we're hypnotized by our parents and society to see certain aspects of reality-and not to see other aspects of reality. Then, as adults, we only see range of possibilities that we were exposed to as we grew up. We don't recognize any alternatives outside of range of viewpoints presented to us in our youth. Options and opportunities that we weren't exposed to don't even register with brain.
By very nature of how we're raised, we develop blind spots. And these blind spots often prevent us from seeing-and taking advantage of-options that are life-enriching and valuable to us. To what degree do these blind spots limit abundance in our lives? What kinds of options could we be missing? Let's "see."
On first day of a four-day workshop I was attending, Martin complained that he didn't have a way to get back and forth to workshop everyday. He had camped several miles outside of town down a narrow, rough dirt road. Our disgruntled camper talked on and on about his dilemma. Martin had decided that there was no way to get to workshop other than to walk. He couldn't see any other options. He felt hopeless and discouraged. So, when someone in group offered to give Martin a ride every day, Martin didn't even hear proposal. He was totally hypnotized by his belief that "there is no solution other than walking." The person offered ride several more times, yet unexpected proposal continued to fall on Martin's deaf ears. Finally, several people in group yelled at Martin that he was not hearing offer of a ride. This group outburst snapped Martin out of his hypnotized state, his blind spot. Only then was Martin able to recognize that his transportation issue was resolved.