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Embodied Experience vs. Objective Reality

Our kitchen is always well stocked, I always have preferred to have a couple of days' worth of food available, just in case something happens. When the pandemic was just a tiny spot on the horizon I already made sure to have a little extra available.

Just before lockdowns started in the Netherlands I had enough food to be able to stay indoors for two to three weeks. When the toilet paper madness started and shelves became empty I chose to stay inside, refusing to be part of the collective losing of our minds.

A full week I spoke to hardly anyone: Kim was stuck at the other end of the world, colleagues were busy surviving the madness and my door remained locked. After a week the chaos seemed to have settled down a bit, so I unlocked the front door and went out to get some food. Turns out I was wrong, never in my life have I regretted going shopping more than that day.

I grabbed some of the little food that was left, unwanted stuff that many people don’t know what to do with, a feast for me. The self-checkout was almost empty and the fast-paced walk home made my entire expedition less than 20 minutes. The door was quickly locked behind me and didn’t open again for four more days.

Looking back it’s interesting how strange that time was, how big the difference between what we “felt” as a society and how unrealistic that feeling actually was. Still, that feeling created the issue.

Even though the danger of for example starvation wasn’t real, at the same time it definitely was. The shelves were empty, our pantry was dwindling, we couldn’t just eat what we felt like and food delivery was also suffering from the lockdowns.

The initial response to the pandemic has to be one of the most beautiful examples of the collective distance between our embodied experience not matching objective reality. On a worldwide scale, we gave in to the very realistic warnings our primal beings were giving and chaos ensued. A simple but hopefully very effective reminder to keep an eye out on both your own very real embodied experience and objective reality.

What works on a grand scale also works on a very small scale. The fact is that we can hardly make any distinction between our own “truth” and any objective truth. Interestingly enough our body and mind also care way more about our own perception of reality. It doesn’t matter what the facts are, when we feel different our entire primal being will accept those feelings over facts.

Time and time again we find new proof of this. When you frown or smile your primal being just accepts that there is something going on that makes you irritated or happy and follows suit. Even if you frown to keep the sun out of your eyes or put on a fake smile to fit in.

The results are very much real, you will get more irritated about the sun and will be more happy while fitting in. “Fake it till you make it” is very much real in these cases.

But it doesn’t end with just our emotional state. The placebo effect is quite commonly known as a fake effect of treatment, often suggesting that those effects should be ignored. Interestingly enough we see a lot of positive effects when it comes to placebo. Studies show that even when people know they are getting a placebo, but also know that it will work because it “fools” the primal being, it still works.

As long as you believe you are being treated, you become better. Or maybe more specifically, your primal being “feels” you are being treated so it follows suit.

By now you might be thinking we are saying that objective reality isn’t important. This is absolutely not the case. We can’t live outside reality just because we feel like it. However, the current state of society tells us that ONLY objective reality matters. And we most certainly disagree with that, your own experience of reality is at least just as important.

It doesn’t matter that the thermostat may say it’s warm when you feel cold. It doesn’t matter if your partner is toxic as hell when you still feel love. And it doesn’t matter if there is enough toilet paper for everyone, when everybody acts like there isn’t and starts hoarding, there will not be enough.

No matter how far from objective reality our experience is, to you and your primal being it is more than real enough. Your own experience shapes your worldview and as such shapes your thoughts and behaviour. Even if the impact is only on a subconscious level, this fact impacts your day-to-day life.

So let’s get real for a moment: both truths are valuable to you and deserve to be recognised as such. Even if you know you’re “overreacting”, “they didn’t mean it that way” or “you’re just being sensitive”, your reality is exactly that, your reality.

However, that shouldn’t be the end of the conversation. As you should know by now from the previous stories, there is a balance to be had. A place where both truths can live side by side. They may not have meant to hurt you, and you may be overreacting, but you are still hurt nonetheless.

And in those instances where both realities can’t live side by side? That’s where change is needed. Either by changing your experience or within objective reality.


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