It’s a Question of How Attention Follows Emotion

What element of my limited awareness most affects my attention? Even needs will only get attention as I feel threatened by my lack of attention to them.

How and how much I feel about an intention, stated or unstated, will affect the outcome I perceive. Knowing, although important to my process of manifestation, does not generate movement towards an outcome. Knowing I have a need, for example, does not predict action on my part towards satisfying that need. Sufficient emotion about that need will. E-motion motivates action.

I attend to that which I feel emotion. My attention follows my emotions. Thoughts can assist me in discovery of those emotions. Thoughts alone, however, are typically merely defenses of my emotions. I do what I do – thought, action – BECAUSE I feel some emotion. The mental aspect of a “because” narrative results in defense of that intention. Emotion always indicates defense.

“Because” is where intention directs attention.

As we’ve discussed above, the intention that gets the attention wins. The intention with the most emotion behind it tends to win the competition for attention.

And yet, even when I put a lot of emotion behind a stated intention, I can sometimes feel disappointed with the outcome. Disappointment is an emotion! I immediately get busy backing my emotion with attention to defending it with excuses, reasons, logic, and denial, etc.

What if the intention was not disappointed – rather, I expressed the emotion of disappointment. Disappointment confirms an underlying intention to feel in order to convince me that I’m alive. Nothing quite like satisfying the intention to live with a sensation of aliveness. Emotion does that!

Perhaps I always get what I feel rather than what I think I want.

Where I’m convinced, I use attention to strengthen and defend the sense of it. I’m also not questioning it. Where emotion is present, I’m far less likely to question my certainty. Yet, this may be the place to ask pertinent questions about it:

  • What do I believe so strongly I can’t question?
  • How does my emotion convince me?
  • Why don’t I question this?
  • Who do I believe I am that appears in this emotional expression?

This brings up a conundrum: I must feel safe enough to inquire. Inquiry makes me feel unsafe. Further, in order for me to feel open enough to respond to questions of my personal feelings, I must trust who is asking. And why. Inside my bubble of limited awareness, my circle of trust is small indeed.

The first thing I may want to do in order to put my mind into a state of inquiry is to interrupt the emotional state I’m in. An inner cry that shakes me, like, “Wait a second…” or “Stop!” can help. In the brief silence afterwards, I move quickly into inquiry mode with:

  • What else can this mean? (other than what I thought it meant)
  • How else can I feel about this? (other than how I felt about it)
  • Why not another intention? (other than the one I had)
  • Who could I be? (other than who did what I did)
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How Intention, Choice, and Bias Resolve Life’s Ambiguity

In order to initiate a conscious choice, I must perceive two or more options relating to the concept under consideration. My life presents me a menu of options. Bias narrows the options from which I may choose. I compare those options to determine how well they might work to confirm my bias.

In my comparative world of limited awareness, life is ambiguous. It’s not 100% clear whether I’ll live or die in any moment. It’s unclear who I am. I must clarify myself to myself. I work my whole life to disambiguate the paradox of the life I live. Bias is one way I seek to clarify this ambiguous situation.

I’m unambiguous about my intention to live. So, I favor all that confirms that intention and fear alternatives. I make choices based on this intentional and fundamental bias. Thus, I resolve life’s greatest paradox – that I am ambiguous, being one and separate, for and against.

Intention

The intention to survive underlies all intentions. A default program ensures I make a preselected biased choice – both for and against. It’s paradoxical. Biases defend the underlying intention to survive, in which I’m:

  • against what threatens the underlying intention.
  • in favor of what benefits the underlying intention.

In this environment of bias, I’m seeking to disambiguate while defending a paradox. I do this by choosing for and against what affects my intention to survive. Thus, increasing the ambiguity I’m seeking to decrease.

Fear and Bias

My fears are an effort to defend myself for being right and against being wrong. Two sides of the same coin. Fear of being wrong plays an influential role in my ability to make a clear choice.

If my choice results in survival, my commitment to its rightness abates fear. When I realize I’ve survived well, my commitment solidifies into a bias that rules over my life. The paradox is that increased defense of what’s right increases fear of its alternatives.

About Choices

Questioning my bubble of limited awareness challenges my perception of survival. Denial is the default program that defends my biases and resists change.

It seems like I’m choosing all the time. Choosing only concepts that support my biases, is not choice – it’s confirmation bias in action. Once I’ve made a choice, I cannot change it while in defense of it. Bias is how I automate the process.

Conscious living may be more about challenging my reasons for making choices than blindly following them.

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My Roller Coaster of Choice Predictability

Sometimes my life feels like a roller coaster. A paradoxical ride through the ups, downs, twists and turns of conflicting choices. Based on the certitude of my choices and their outcomes, I create a dependency equation. I apply the same equation, choice + defense = predictability, to every outcome.

I believe that predictable defenses mean predictable choices that result in predictable outcomes. Ambiguity develops as my dependence on specific outcomes from specific choices wavers. This challenges my defense and so affects my choices and outcomes.

Certitude and Rigidity

This kind of thinking can lead to a sense of certitude that leads to rigid thinking. This makes manifesting intended outcomes much more difficult and unpredictable. What if ambiguity invites questions about the certitude of my predictability formula?

Because I’d rather be right than accurate, I have an inclination to remember past events as being predictable at the time. In other words I reconcile differences in expected and actual outcomes by justifying results with false memories. This keeps my certitude in place regardless of outcomes.

A difference between expected and actual outcomes occurs because I am not in the same frame of mind when making a choice as when perceiving the outcome of that choice. So, to deal with the paradox, I lie to myself by revising my memory to justify what I perceive and feel now.

Predictability and Fear

This makes future outcomes seem much more predictable and choices more reliable than they actually are. It’s a useful thinking error when applied to confidence building. Not so useful when applied to medical procedures where overconfidence can lead to malpractice, for example.

When I feel conflict in yet-to-be-made choices rising within me, I may feel fear over that unpredictability. To calm my fear, I look to predictability of past choices made that I defend with my support and loyalty today.

Am I tall enough to ride this ride?

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Presentation is Everything!

Within my bubble of limited awareness, I’ve imagined and developed personas to deal with my environment. I expect others to perceive these presentations according to my intentions. In this way, I present a different “me” depending upon how I perceive my environment.

I have a work persona, a family persona, a casual persona, a formal persona, etc. My imagination can mold a persona to act out just about any presentation in just about any situation. I’m an adaptable actor.

Thanks to personas, I don’t have to BE dangerous to BE frightening – just APPEAR dangerous.

Externalized Personas

To make a persona work, I must imagine how another person witnessing my persona will react to it. That means I must do a bit of mindreading. And some in-performance interpretation of feedback from those others to whom I present my persona.

I must be aware of “externalized” personas. From my perceptions and overall judgments of them, I create a persona for every person with whom I interact. Thereby externalizing one of my personas to fit a bubble of judgments I name “you.” Thus, I’ve encapsulated you into a persona that is MY perception of YOU.

My perception of a relationship between internal and external personas represents and exists within an environment. Whenever aware of that environment, my mind presents a persona to deal with it. Thus, I appear as one person when conversing with my Mom at her home. Another when I’m with her at a store. And yet another when with her and my siblings at a family gathering. A different face for each situation.

It appears I’m reacting to an environment separate from me. Appearances can be deceiving. ALL personas present a defense of relationships, based on perceptions, beliefs, thoughts, and feelings – about MY persona.

For example, I meet a coworker, John, for the first time. He presents me with his work persona. Because it is the only persona of John I’ve met, I perceive his work persona is John. My perception of John is, nonetheless, my perception of John’s work persona – not John. My perception of John’s work persona is within my perception of our relationship within the work environment. That perception also holds an image of the relationship between our work personas. Away from our work environment, those personas and relationships may change radically.

Over a period of time at work, my identity becomes a convolution of relationships in which John’s work persona joins mine. None of those personas are me – they only appear to be me. Instead, personas represent who I am not.

How Personas May Affect Identity

Extrapolating this persona convolution concept to the myriad relationships I’ve had in my lifetime and you begin to comprehend how convoluted my identity has become. At a very young age, I learned to associate my personal with my identity. Thus, I become what I do – act a part – rather than who I am.

What I do is not who I am! Neither do I see who you are! Even when experiencing what you want me to see of you, I’m seeing that through the eyes of a persona.

Due to this flexibility of personas, I’m always seeing what I WANT to see rather than what is. Thus, I’m always seeing me as who I am not, which is whoever I want to be.

Presentation is everything!

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Aced Out! A Blue Jay Metaphor

Sometimes, nature provides an obvious metaphor for me to enjoy and incorporate into my life. From their acrobatic flight style to their azure color, we love blue jays, Several live close to us. We also enjoy their apparently playful nature.

We put unsalted peanuts out on the back porch occasionally and enjoy watching our little jays sort through, pick out, and fly away to secret them.

The jays don’t eat the peanuts. Rather, they fly away to bury them. We later find peanuts in our garden beds, our compost pile, in our grassy areas – everywhere.

We lay out peanuts and then watch from our vantage point above the action. The fun begins when more than one jay notices the peanuts, which is common because we call them when we put the peanuts out.

Aced Out!

One jay I’ve named Ace after the Toronto Blue Jays mascot busies himself chasing the other jays away from the treasure hoard. There’s plenty for everyone, but Ace apparently believes otherwise.

Ace misses out on the feast because he is so busy chasing his competitors away. Chasing away each of the other jays, Ace works himself to exhaustion. Meanwhile, his companions fly in behind him and swipe every bit of his hoard. In the end, we see Ace standing by himself on the porch with no peanuts to enjoy.

It appears he has lost his hoard to his companions because he sees them as competitors. Thus, perhaps he actually lost out to his own fear, greed, and sense of lack.

Had he shared his hoard with the others, he would have had his fill. Because of his fear-driven belief in lack, his need to protect what he believed was his alone, and his greed, he left himself with nothing.

Ace repeats the performance every time.

A Metaphor for Me

I’m looking at all the times when I felt lack in my life – and what I did about it. How I’ve chased away others because I feared they would take what I believed was mine alone. How I’d sought to protect what I believed was my property by warding off others – rather than enjoying the abundance with them. All those times when, while I was away fortifying my belief in lack, others enjoyed the bounty I refused to see.

And most important of all – what will I do with the lesson of this metaphor? Will I reach out to connect with others or continue to chase them away? Will I join in the feast or continue to busy myself working to satisfy a need that isn’t there?

There’s a lesson our beautiful jays are showing me. What will I learn from it?

Will I continue to ace myself out or will I choose another way?

Thank you, Ace!

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