Every day we receive tons of information. We are inundated with sounds from people, machines and nature, air temperature and the feel of wind on our faces, people and things to look at, the feel of our clothes on our bodies, the smell from lunch or a wet dog not to mention all of the conversations, advertisements and texts coming at us every second. There is no way we could receive and make sense of all this data. We would not be able to process and act upon all of this data therefore our brain uses our Reticular Activating System (RAS) to filter the information for us.
Our RAS allows us to unconsciously select what we want to see and experience. It is the reason why my husband sees every 1950’s car on the highway. They are important to him. He enjoys seeing them. Me? Not so much. So my RAS filters out these cars. They don’t exist to me. I don’t see them at all. Try this yourself. Say that something, anything – baseball, model trains, or the color red – is important to you. Then be aware of what you see and hear. Are you much more conscious of articles, announcements, and radio programs about baseball even during the off season? Do you suddenly notice a model train store on your travels to work which you were never aware of before? Is red showing up stronger than any other color throughout the day? These are all signs of your RAS working.
The RAS is a wonderful system helping us to receive only urgent and relative information. However, our RAS can work against us. If we are in a bad mood, our RAS will select only those things which justify and further our bad feelings. If we are afraid, the RAS will be put on alert to send us warnings of each and every potential source of fear. We can experience stress and pain in our lives because our RAS is hypersensitive to information which does not serve us.
However, we can consciously change the wiring of our minds. We have the power to not only choose how we perceive, act and react but we can also go into our gray matter to delete old programs which do not work for us and wire together new programs which serve us better. By reprogramming our RAS we can consciously choose to experience more joy, peace, and happiness. Through this reprogramming we can once again have ambition, see the glass as half full, and have the strength to move forward.
Check out this interview Dr. Rick Hanson to learn more about reprogramming your brain.