Do you think that’s air you’re breathing now?

There are so many great quotes from The Matrix. Many people often recall the line from the young boy in the Oracle’s apartment, “There is no spoon.”, as one of their favourite or most memorable quote. For me, however, the line I used as the title of this article has had the most impact for me. You see, everything comes down to perception.

Our brain is a true marvel of nature. Its capacity for computation, logic, memory and emotion is staggering. It is truly humbling when we realize that we carry around with us inside our heads one of the last frontiers for exploration & understanding – we probably know more about the surface of Mars than we do about what happens between our ears on a daily basis. Feeding our brain are our senses & nervous system, our interface with the “outside” world. And yet, everything we experience is likely still just an approximation of what is really happening.

There’s nothing to be overly concerned about, though. This approach has served us just fine and helped us as a species get to where we are today, for good & bad. It’s similar to the subject of physics which is wonderfully precise and has helped us explain the world around us, but in reality it’s just a language that we use to translate our reality into something we can comprehend. We translate our own realities & experiences using our senses and brain in order to function every day. Sometimes, though, we might be better served by talking a step back and questioning what we perceive.

Part of the challenge is that we start to develop our own internal stories, limiting beliefs & expectations as we accumulate our experiences. These stories start off as recollections – memories that we use to reflect upon to learn & improve. We replay these stories in our heads as part of our process of learning. Over time, these stories start to grow in importance and we develop limiting beliefs and expectations as a result. At their worst, they can become our model or “template” and get in the way of our actual enjoyment of these experiences.

That’s why it’s so important to remember that what we think we’re experiencing is really just our perception, and that it is heavily influenced by our past experiences. The stories we create for ourselves can be both empowering and debilitating. Words & beliefs have power and energy, so choose wisely. Taking that step back to reflect in the moment, to change your perspective or viewpoint, can help you break the habit of having preconceived ideas or expectations on how an event will unfold. Start asking yourself – is this experience really what I’m building it up to be? Am I fearful of what will happen or just afraid of failing? What will I learn from this experience, regardless of the outcome?

I can understand that some people are uncomfortable with the concept that you create your own reality. It may sound stereotypically “new age” and push some buttons that make it challenging to internalize. Personally, I do believe this concept on many levels. Perhaps the most tangible and actionable interpretation of this relates to the beliefs & stories we have for ourselves. We have the power to shape & rewrite these beliefs & stories in order to change our paths. But if you want to dip your toes into some heavier interpretations of changing your reality, just consider that any thought or memory you have is a series of chemical changes in our brain cells which change their physical state accordingly. You are changing your own physical reality on the smallest levels with every thought you have.

So back to the question that Morpheus puts to Neo – consider stepping back for a moment the next time you come up against a challenge that feels insurmountable, that you’ve told yourself that you’re likely to fail because that’s the way it’s always gone in the past. Ask yourself – is this really the reality I’m making for myself? I would hope that you feel curious and maybe even empowered to start changing your patterns & beliefs. You may still have challenges leaping tall buildings in a single bound, but changing your beliefs is a powerful starting point.