As described in The Personal World, the world in which one exists is very different to what we have understood, and we ourselves are very different also. The truly extraordinary news is the very close connection between their individual and their world. This means we are not helpless bystanders in the affairs of the world. We have been pilots asleep at the wheel.
Confirmation bias tends to happen when a new experience would clash with an expectation. In response, the unconscious mind will often modify the observation of the experience. It alters the observation so that it confirms the expectations instead of contradicting them. In other words, the process of observation is biased so that the resulting experience does not jar with the expectations.
Obviously, in the ordinary world, all this does is produce a rose-tinted view of the world, thinking things turned out how we expected. But in the personal world the situation is very different. It is the biased observation that becomes part of the definition of the physical reality. It is not, of course, that the observation makes any difference to the world itself. Every possible version of the future exists in the space of all possible worlds. So every possible version of the next moment is a real possibility. When the observation is altered, you wind up in a different version of the next moment, a version in which the events defined by the altered observation actually happened. And thus the biased observation means you wind up in a different version of the world.
The extraordinary implication is that we are doing this all the time. Should we only know it, the things one expects are biasing what one is likely to experience, and this operates with regard to events throughout the whole world. It is not of course that your expectations have the slightest effect on the world itself. It simply means that the bias tends to steer your world toward versions of the future in which expectations are fulfilled. Technically the expectations act as ‘strange attractors’ in the system.
In physics, the term attractor means a state towards which a system tends to gravitate. Gravity itself is a simple example. A ball dropped on a slope tends to roll towards the bottom. In relation to gravity, the bottom of the hill is an attractor. Here the attractor is obvious in the way it works. And the end result is a specific condition, the ball at the bottom of the slope.
There is also a rather different sort of attractor that is often found in complex systems, a strange attractor. This sort of attractor does not give rise to a simple, specific outcome, but a loosely defined tendency in the system. Rather than one specific outcome, a strange attractor gives rise to a particular pattern or type of behaviour in the system. The image below shows the Lorenz attractor in action, a 3D example from mathematics. It can be seen in action on Wikimedia. This is a pattern traced out by a mathematical formula in a program on a computer. The program traces out a shape that always gravitates towards this distinctive pattern. The shape of the pattern is a strange attractor.
Your expectations act as strange attractors in the personal world. The effect occurs because expectation gives rise to biased observations, and each biased observation defines the outcome of the expectation as more likely than before. As a result, whatever one strongly expects becomes more and more likely to be experienced, as biased observations are added to the definition of the world hologram. This is not just because one behaves in such a way as to fulfil the expectation, though of course that may be a contributing factor. The point here is that the biased observations in and of themselves alter the probabilities, so that the expected outcomes are more likely to be experienced.
Perhaps the simplest implication of all is that positive thinking is absolutely essential for a happy and successful life. Anticipating happiness, health and success instead of expecting the worst is vital because either way these are self-fulfilling prophesies. Our expectations are constantly moulding and directing our personal worlds. So if we are not aware of the effect this means that quite unconsciously we are often steering in the wrong direction.
Because of this effect, ‘creative visualisation’ can produce extraordinarily powerful results. It is a longstanding new age idea that by visualising the things we want we can make them come true. Certainly, visualisation of a positive future can have a beneficial effect. This has been well researched in the field of athletics. It can give rise to improvements in the psychological state, and success in sports. But the principle holds that this works with anything in the whole world. In the personal world it does.
Consistent visualisations, making a clear picture of something happening in the future, induces expectation. This is a well-known phenomenon. And the expectation generates confirmation bias. So over time you are more and more likely to experience events that confirm the expectation. So the new age idea actually works. The extraordinary implication is that we can consciously and deliberately steer the way our worlds go. The key of course is to build expectation, and the main method is repetition. But there are many other attributes to the practice. A very well respected source is the book Creative Visualisation by Shakti Gawain. As she also describes, ‘affirmation’ can be very powerful. This is simply formulating a description of a desired state, and then reciting the description to oneself on a regular basis. The famous affirmation by Emile Coue was “Every day in every way I am getting better and better”.
So we can steer the path of the personal world a little. The timeless myth of the wizard is a poetic depiction of real principles that are fully operational. We just have to learn how to pull the sword from the stone. The trick is to understand the extraordinary position one holds with respect to one’s world. This is described on the next page The Higher Self.