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The rubber hand illusion

An out-of-body experience with a rubber glove described by Tsakiris and Haggard (2005):

“Watching a rubber hand being stroked, while one’s own unseen hand is synchronously stroked, may cause the rubber hand to be attributed to one’s own body, to “feel like it’s my hand.”

These sorts of illusions are fascinating and have a corollary in the phenomenon of phantom limbs. There are people who’ve had limbs amputated find that they still have sensations from it. This is very irritating if they get an itch which they’ll never be able to scratch! It sounds crazy doesn’t it that we can be tricked so easily. I’ve seen this carried out and it really is unbelievable, but true!

We think our reality is true and yet the mind makes mistakes all the time. If you think about someone with a spider phobia, they enter into any space looking for spiderzilla and their brain sends them into a panic if they see one! Anyone else would not even notice that small black speck in the corner. Flying is by far the safest way to travel and that’s a fact. Yet I’ve worked with people who suffer extreme distress about the fear of dying in a plane crash who wouldn’t think twice about driving fast in the outside lane on a motorway!

It makes you think about how easily the mind is tricked into a whole range of things like:

  • I can’t change
  • I’m not good enough
  • I’m frightened of failure so I can’t…
  • I’ll always be like this
  • It’s just the way I am

All of these statements I  hear on a daily basis from my clients and none of them are true. They are just constructs that the mind uses to keep us as we are. In evolutionary terms, similarity meant safety which is why we can struggle with change. Yet, if you think about it, we are changing all the time. Are you the same person you were a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago? I doubt it. So change is inevitable and more importantly we are masters at accommodating it.

So if you treat your negative thoughts and  beliefs like the illusions they are, in the same way the rubber hand trick creates something that isn’t there, you can control and change negative thoughts more easier than you think. You’ll be amazed what possibilities that can open up for you. Are you ready for that? Or are you happy to stick with the illusion of your limiting thoughts and beliefs? It’s your choice.

Jill Tonks

Jill Tonks


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