Our minds are very powerful. They are experts at providing us whatever evidence we need to believe the thoughts we have. And here’s a story about one of my favorite examples of this spectacular capability.
Back when I was a teacher, when I would begin a unit on the moon with my eighth graders, inevitably a good portion of them would insist that the moon is never out during the day. These were not sheltered children. They were kids who went camping with their families, played soccer, took vacations to exotic locales.
But in their minds, the moon was out at night. They’d gathered lots of evidence to support this thought, from Goodnight Moon to werewolf movies. And when they saw the moon at night, their mind stored that image as more proof that the moon is, indeed, out at night.
So why did they not notice the moon out during the day, like in the photo above? Statistically, the moon is out during the day just as much as it’s out at night. So what happened? How could they miss something so gigantic and obvious?
Well, they had no thought to support that evidence. So they didn’t even see it. Until I walked them out of the classroom to look up at a blue sky with a white moon. Even then, some students could not fathom that it was the moon. “That’s the sun!”, they said. It took a lot more evidence mixed in with compassion and patience for them to form the thought, “The moon is sometimes visible during the day”, and then they could begin gathering the evidence to back up their new thought.
We so want to trust our mind. It seems so smart, so capable. It stores so much information for us. But it can’t hold evidence for thoughts we don’t have. And it’s great at holding evidence for thoughts we do have, even if — perhaps especially if– those thoughts are negative. Hey– it’s just trying to protect us– to keep us safe — so we don’t get too big for our britches or dream too big. It’s so good at remembering all the reasons why we can’t do this or that – even ones that date back to something someone said to us in second grade.
So what do we do? We make new thoughts, so we can provide the space for new evidence – for all the good stuff we might be missing – stuff as big as the moon!