In our last we talked about the key to hearing Laurel and Yanny is to understand that both are there, but one is the “figure” and the other is the “ground.” I put quotes around them because they are visual terms and I don’t know their auditory equivalents. But today we are looking at the real thing!
One of my favorite optical illusions are figure/ground, or white space illusions. Here’s my absolute favorite of these- to my eye it is absolutely beautiful.
I love white space illusions because unlike the more “majestic” illusions, white space illusions are simply about choice. You want to see the bird, choose to look at the bird. You want to see the record player? Choose to look at the record player.
Despite their relative simplicity, simple white space illusions maintain that concrete shifting feeling that makes illusions so fun. You can’t really see them both at once (OK, you can, but it requires you to pull back your focus and look with a wider lens, which also takes some practice and can cause that perception headache we discussed on Tuesday), instead you SHIFT from the bird to the record player. Then you SHIFT back. It’s accessible, but it’s also real.
Perception shifting in other parts of your life can be easy like that, too.
And it’s the easy, low hanging fruit that you should go after first.
You don’t have to change your perception of the bully from elementary school if thinking about him triggers you.
Maybe start with the vague feeling you have that you “Aren’t the kind of person who plays Virtual Cards Against Humanity” and instead say “I’m the kind of person who is willing to give it a try” … how does that feel?
Is there an expansion? If there is, stick with it and see what happens.
If there’s a contraction (as perhaps there was with the bully), maybe it’s not time yet.
That’s OK. We will develop our muscle and come back to it, if it’s important.
There are so many beliefs that you can hold that open big and small doors on new experiences, new friends, and new careers (or, critically, new perspectives on old experiences, old friends, and old careers). And they are all hidden right there, in plain sight.
What happens when you begin to develop this muscle, starting with beliefs that feel like simple, easy choices?
Amanda Crowell, PhD is a cognitive psychologist obsessed with how people make change. She is best known for translating cutting edge research into practical strategies that can be used right away.