Every second of our lives, we’re surrounded by an incomprehensible amount of information. We need to filter out a large portion to make sense of the world and not become completely fried. But how do we distinguish the tiny fraction of information that is relevant from all the remaining input that needs to be ignored? If we tried to make these distinctions consciously, we wouldn’t be able to do anything else. Literally all our focus and energy would be devoted to deciphering and sorting every single detail in and around us. This is where our subconscious mind comes in and employs specific filters to separate what it perceives to be important for us.
In a study conducted at Columbia University in New York, volunteers were shown pictures of random people with neutral expressions. The researchers also displayed random images of people with fearful expressions. The images with the fearful faces appeared and disappeared so quickly that the volunteers weren’t consciously aware of them. However, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans -- which measure changes in blood flow -- clearly demonstrated that the brain had registered the fearful faces, even though the subjects denied seeing them. This study shows that our subconscious not only filters and processes information, it is also able to perceive external input much more quickly and in more subtle forms than the conscious mind can.
Subconscious filters consist of memories, emotions, inner conflicts, and beliefs. They delete, distort, and generalize information that passes through them and leave us with a condensed and altered version of all that surrounds us -- an internal interpretation of reality. Since most people are not consciously aware of their subconscious filters, they’re also unaware that their view of the world is basically just “made up.” Which also means that whatever you think you are is just a fraction of the truth.
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