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Seeing My Awareness Like a Camera

Jeremiah Rogers
Jeremiah Rogers
2 min read
Seeing My Awareness Like a Camera

A useful perspective I have adopted is to think of my awareness like a camera.

A camera does not experience all of a space — just the parts of the space that it happens to be pointed toward – and a camera does not remember everything that happens — just what it ends up storing as a photograph.

This quality of a camera is why two people can spend a day side by side with the same model of iPhone but come back with radically different photographs.

In my experience, this is similar to how my awareness works. The quality of my experience — what is good or bad and happy or sad — is created by where I point myself and what I decide to store.

Sometimes I wonder how another person in my body would experience my days and what different stories they might come back to tell.

Like a camera, I feel that I experience and store less than 1% of what’s possible. So if I don’t like an experience I try to find parts of the other ~99% that could have been a subject of focus instead.

One vivid example comes from a 2019 company holiday party. It should have been a wonderful night full of celebration, but instead I got stuck on a few key negative thoughts: I felt socially snubbed, like I had offended a good friend, unhappy about my clothes, and as if I had wasted my energy going to an afterparty.

At home that night I journaled about everything which had felt out of place from the evening. Negative thoughts poured from me and it felt terrible.

Then I caught myself and wrote the sentence “I had a great time at the holiday party” over and over again in my journal. As I kept writing the sentence memories of what had gone well well flooded into my mind and came to dominate my thinking.

Forcing myself to write a sentence that reflected how I wanted to feel snapped my thoughts into line with my writing.

Today my memories of the party are wonderful: I remember meaningful conversations, great food, connecting with friends I hadn’t talked to in a while, and many people complimenting me on my recent successes at work.

It amazed me how the exact same experience could be remembered as either negative or positive purely based on where I focused and what I decided to remember.

When a camera takes a picture the picture is fixed. With a camera there is no going back and retaking the photo a few minutes earlier or from a different perspective. Our minds are not the same. We can always edit the story we tell ourselves about our life.

My favorite methods to alter awareness are with statements like the one above or with questions. A question I'm experimenting with right now is "How can I feel even more free in this exact moment?"

I find that in almost every case a new story exists that is just as true as my default story but serves me better. All I have to do is find it.