The RAS is the part of the human brain that deals with motivations. Although there is no scientific consensus on this point yet, some people believe that one of the functions of the RAS is to direct a person’s attention towards things in his environment that are relevant to his motivations and interests. Simultaneously, the RAS will filter out things in his environment which are judged not to be relevant.
For example, suppose a man enters into a big room full of strangers, walks around for ten seconds, and then leaves the room. If you then ask him to describe all the people he just saw, he may be able to describe just a few of them. But there’s a very high chance that he will remember the sexy young lady with the big breasts and the long legs. In fact, he probably noticed her almost immediately upon entering the room, instinctively picking her out from a big crowd of faceless strangers. This is his RAS at work.
Here is another example. You take your time to read the newspapers on a leisurely Sunday. When you're done, you would have read, say, fifteen full articles in detail (because these articles were interesting to you). However, there could be another twenty articles which you had skipped completely, because they were not interesting to you and you did not want to read them at all.
Now, if you were then asked to put aside your newspaper and say something about those 20 articles, you would struggle. You would not even know what it is that you cannot remember. The funny thing is that when you were going through the newspapers, at some unconscious level you MUST have noticed these 20 articles. Otherwise how were you able to judge that they were uninteresting and should be skipped?
What happened here is that your RAS automatically filtered those 20 articles away and out of your field of perception. Your unconscious / subconscious mind took note of those 20 articles, decided that you shouldn’t waste your time on them and directed your attention elsewhere. Your conscious mind played no part in this. In effect, you had no choice. Therefore you can neither remember anything about the 20 articles you skipped nor understand why you had skipped them.
Most of us know what we like, and what we are interested in – therefore we know what are the kind of things we notice. What we don’t know is what we don’t notice. What we don’t notice is probably a heck of a lot of things. But that’s mostly unconscious to us.
That’s because our RAS works on the basis of our subconscious / unconscious mind. A heterosexual man does not have to tell his RAS, “Please direct my attention to sexy young ladies in my physical proximity.” A newspaper reader interested in professional golf and Australian politics does not have to tell his RAS, “Please direct my attention to newspaper articles about professional golf and Australian politics.” It all happens automatically.
Since the RAS operates on the basis of our subconscious / unconscious mind, the beliefs and thoughts that we hold at these levels in effect decide what we perceive about the world - every minute, every hour, day after day, month after month, year after year.
So for instance, if you subconsciously believe that you are a useless idiot, your RAS will constantly direct your attention towards all available evidence and events in your physical environment that indicate or suggest that you are a useless idiot.
If you subconsciously believe that hard work is the only way to succeed (and you want to succeed), your RAS will constantly direct your attention such that the only route to success that you can perceive is through hard work.
If you subconsciously believe that it is very possible to make lots of money, your RAS will constantly direct your attention such that you keep perceiving many possible opportunities to make a lot of money.
If you subconsciously believe that you are great at solving difficult problems, then your RAS will constantly direct your attention such that you keep perceiving difficult problems, AND keep perceiving great ways to solve them.
If you subconsciously believe that you are too young / too old / too weak / too poor / too lazy / too unlucky / too disadvantaged / too busy to do _____________, then your RAS will constantly direct your attention towards perceiving evidence that you are indeed too young / too old / too weak / too poor / too lazy / too unlucky / too disadvantaged / too busy to do _____________.
As I’ve said before, your reality is basically (a) what you perceive about reality, and (b) your interpretation of your perceptions. In the end, your reality is totally constructed out of your thoughts. Things which are deeply against your deepest beliefs will simply not be perceptible by you.
For example, the staunch atheist will look around the universe, the stars, the sun, the seas and the moon and say, “I cannot see any evidence at all of the existence of God!”. While the religious believer will look around the same universe, the stars, the sun, the seas and the moon and say, “I see God everywhere! What kind of fool one must be, not to be able to see this!”. Both of them are absolutely correct, within their respective realities.
There is no escape! Your mind is your universe. Change your mind, and you change your __________.