Awareness shapes our thoughts and actions

“The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.”

—R. D. Laing

Imagine you’re in a vast art gallery, where the paintings are lined up from floor to ceiling. You focus on the first painting, studying its details, its brush strokes, its colors. It’s easy to become so absorbed in that one painting that you fail to notice the other masterpieces surrounding you. You see one painting, but not the gallery. You’re limited by what you fail to notice.

Now, extend that metaphor to our thoughts and actions. The ideas we entertain, the decisions we make, they’re often influenced by a single ‘painting’—a single perspective or idea that we focus on so intently that we fail to notice the others. We’re in a gallery of possibilities, but we’re stuck staring at one painting.

And here’s the kicker: we don’t even realize we’re doing this. We fail to notice that we’re failing to notice. This blind spot in our awareness keeps us trapped in a cycle of limited thinking and acting. We become prisoners of our unnoticed patterns, without even realizing we’re confined.

But here’s the good news: once we start to notice, once we pull back and take in the whole gallery, we can change. By recognizing how our tunnel vision shapes our thoughts and deeds, we can begin to see the other paintings, the other possibilities. We can expand our range of thought and action. Noticing our failure to notice is the first step towards freedom from our self-imposed limits.