I keep hearing folks saying that we use only 10% of our brains, most recently at a potluck this weekend.
It is obviously a myth if taken literally. Even on the surface, it makes little sense. Why, for instance, would we evolve a brain that is only partially used when it is so enormously costly in terms of energy? And brain imaging shows that we use all parts of the brain, although all parts are – thankfully – not highly active at any one time.
The intention behind the statement (apart from revealing to the world an appalling lack of understanding of common-sense principles of evolution) is obviously to remind us that we have untapped potentials.
If the 10% myth mirrors something alive here now, what is mirrored? Where do I find for myself that I only use a small portion of my capacity?
I can generate a large amount of stories about what I could be doing instead of what I am doing right now, so in that sense, I am using only a small amount of my capacity. In my thoughts, I am living just one path of many possible. (These stories can be wishful thinking, or scenarios that guide choices.)
Also, as soon as I take any one story as true, I prevent myself from seeing the grain of truth in alternative stories (including its reversals). In that sense, I am using only a small portion of my perspective taking capacity.
One expression of limited perspective taking is to limit my experience and expression of my human self to that which fits within the identity created by these stories. As who I am (this human self), I am much more than I take myself to be. (Whatever qualities I see in the wider world are also right here, although I don’t always notice.)
And when I take the story of a separate “I” (one found within content of awareness) as true, I find myself as only a small portion of what I really am. From noticing myself as that which experience happens within and as, I take myself as a small portion within content of experience.
I have the capacity to notice what I am, but sometimes don’t. (More accurately, I always do notice, but don’t always notice that I notice!)
And I take myself to be much less (and in some ways more – more real and substantial) than what I really am.