Caged By Your Brain?

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So, some of you may have noticed that my friend, Chris Brogan, recently launched a project called Escape Velocity.

Escape velocity is a metaphor for the energy it takes to break free of current patterns that stop you from being who you want to be and living in the world the way you want to live.

I’ve been honored and humbled to be a contributor to that collective endeavor, along with a small gathering a people who are about a bazillion times smarter than me.

Today, I shared a post over there called Escaping the Mind That Binds.

It’s about something that’s been on my mind a lot, mental models and how we create our own special sauce versions of reality that often lead to suffering.

Here’s how it starts…

“In 1930s Italy, a carefree Jewish book keeper named Guido starts a fairy tale life by courting and marrying a lovely woman from a nearby city. Guido and his wife have a son and live happily together until the occupation of Italy by German forces. In an attempt to hold his family together and help his son survive the horrors of a Jewish Concentration Camp, Guido imagines that the Holocaust is a game and that the grand prize for winning is a tank.”  -IMDB

The movie is gorgeous, but beyond that, it’s an incredible reminder of the power the mental models we create have over the way we experience our lives.

Whether we realize it or not, all day long, we’re creating models of the world around us. Taking circumstances that Buddhists would call “empty” and overlaying our filters.

  • Moral filters (good, bad, just, evil, worthy, worthless),
  • Emotional filters (sad, angry, fun, frustrating),
  • Cognitive filters (smart, dumb, rational, flighty),
  • Spiritual filters (delivered, doomed), and more.

You can read the entire article over at, along with some amazing posts by much deeper thinkers than me.


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15 responses

15 responses to “Caged By Your Brain?”

  1. Hi Jonathan,

    Judgment is a root cause of suffering. Observing things as they are can stop the tendency to create mental models.

    As you note in your picture meditation is a vehicle through which this can be achieved. Setting aside time to clear your mind reveals that you filled it in the first place.

    Thanks for sharing!


  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by remarkablogger, Grant Griffiths, Rich LoPresti, Nicholas Cardot, TwittyBean and others. TwittyBean said: Caged By Your Brain? […]

  3. Maria says:

    Hey Jonathan!

    Good luck with Escape Velocity! It is a very good idea!


  4. Hi Jonathan,

    I saw your post over on Escape Velocity this morning, and it really struck a chord. I am continually fascinated by how our self-perceptions create the reality and space that we move around in. Our mental models are hard to escape from- you noted that in your piece as well. I am amazed at how often some of my friends complain about their life, and how little they do to actually change it. They’ve become trapped, and I think the scariest part is that they don’t realize it.

    Thanks for insight and I plan to see that movie soon!

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Sometimes perception really is reality…not that perception is an easy thing to change, tho. But simply awakening to the possibility that your current reality isn’t “the” current reality starts you down a road that leads to some interesting change

  5. Suzanne Vara says:


    Congrats to you on being a part of Escape Velocity. It is such a well respected and esteemed group with such a great guy in Chris at the helm.

    Looking forward to some more excellent pieces from you here and of course at EV.


  6. Once again, you’re not just ahead of it, you are the curve, bending, as King observed, toward truth.

    I’m working on a stage play re: Everett, the genius behind the many worlds interpretation of quantum physics in 1957, as a grad student; now, it’s mainstream, the multiverse, a simultaneous ‘accordion’ of parallel worlds, i.e., all possible versions of them/us.

    Your piece illustrates it well, our ‘thoughts’, each of them, taking us into those alternate simultaneous spaces; therefore, control your thoughts, control ‘where’ you are.

    Thanks for the inspiration, as usual.

  7. Dom says:

    hi Jonathan – thanks for sharing this powerful concept of Escape Velocity.

    My fitness clients often need some ‘escape velocity’ when they say they’re too busy to exercise but they know they need to lose weight.

    One concept I was taught when I met Wag Bennett (the late trainer and mentor of Arnold Schwarzenegger when teenage Arnie started out in his bodybuilding career)was the concept of WANT-POWER.

    If you want something badly enough, you’ll find a way of achieving it. ‘Want-power’ and ‘escape velocity’ are closely related.

    Wag Bennett emphasised the vital difference between ‘willpower’ and ‘want-power’. Merely using willpower is a constant struggle, but ‘want-power’ fuels you, inspires you, numbs the pain of the journey towards your desired goal.

  8. Steven says:

    As a student of NLP, I definitely think of our subjective world in terms of models. We all hold different maps in our heads and some are better at getting to our destination than others.

    That movie “Life is Beautiful” sounds interesting. I can’t imagine trying to reframe an awful situation like the Holocaust. That takes some real mental strength, but it can be done. I’ve noticed a lot of holocaust survivors being some of the most optimistic and positive-thinking individuals. I suppose that is what they needed in order to get through it.

  9. Jonathan, you shared a powerful message in a powerful story. Your call to action at the end is inspiring.

    It is hard to keep things in perspective and still have hope. Thanks for the inspiration.

  10. Like Guido we are more motivated to change when we want to share that mental picture with some who matters to us. While we know it helps to have a mutual support buddy with whom we collaborate in our shared vision of change, its a super “nudge” when we deeply love and/or respect that “buddy.” It still seems magical – for good and for bad – that our behavior is imitated by friends of our friends – people we may not know nor ever meet

    ~another fan of Jonthan

  11. Diana Maus says:

    Hmm, hope you don’t mind a little dissention over there. I found myself at odds with the message in your guest post.

    I do enjoy my email subscription to this blog…

  12. James says:

    Very interesting post. Inspiring I should say. It’s like everyone is looking at the world through their own set of glasses, I always say, fallow your heart and use your mind as a tool.