We are all, each and every day, standing in the middle of referrals. They are all around us – we just aren’t paying enough attention to them. Part of our brain has something called a “Reticular Activating System,” or RAS. Your RAS is like a filter between your conscious and your subconscious mind. It is capable of taking instructions from your conscious mind and passing them on to your subconscious mind. For example, have you ever been in a busy airport with announcements coming over the loudspeaker, noise from all the hustle and bustle, people talking all around you but then your name or your flight number is announced and all of a sudden – you think, “Wait, that was my name.”? That’s your Reticular Activating System at work. Your subconscious screens out things you determine that aren’t important and it alerts you about things you think are important.
I never fully believed this until my first child was born. I used to be able to sleep through anything – and I mean virtually anything. There was once an automobile accident in front of my home. Police and ambulance sirens, neighbors, and multitudes of people were outside my front door. I’m told the noise was deafening. I don’t know because I slept through it all. I discovered it the next morning when I walked out my front door – only to find police tape across the walkway. Like I said, I could sleep through almost anything.
A few years later, I was about to welcome my first child into the world and I was worried – really worried. What if she woke up at night crying and I didn’t hear her? That would be terrible. I went to bed the first night really concerned about that. Around 2am I sat straight up in bed and realized that my daughter was whimpering (not even crying loudly). I immediately nudged my wife and said, “Honey, I think the baby’s awake.” (I know – women everywhere hate me now, sorry.) But forgetting about the lousy husband issue – think about the power of the RAS. It’s incredible. I could sleep through an automobile accident outside my front door but I woke up with the slight cries of a baby. Our Reticular Activating System is amazingly powerful.