You are constantly forming expectations as a way to feel prepared for any scenario that might arise. The expectations you create reflect the world around you, maintaining roughly the same overall history and physical laws. If you choose, you can take your expectations of the world and add something new or change something and then anticipate the logical sequence of events. In other words, you are constantly creating new universes that don’t have to match the one you live in.
For example, imagine you are carefully working with power tools. While working, you might anticipate touching your hand to the blade accidentally. You will then build a universe in which everything is the same as reality with the exception that you touched your hand to a moving blade. You will then logically anticipate getting cut, calling out for help, even riding to the hospital as logical steps that would occur next in the universe that you just built.
You have the choice to add details to the universes that you create by allocating your consciousness to the mental plane. In the earlier example, you might just think, “Don’t touch the blades or else you might get hurt” or you might access visual data and “see” it all happen within your constructed universe using your “mind’s eye.
Let’s look at a slightly less gruesome example, a glass cup on a table. Looking at the glass cup gives you visual information about the cup as well as the visual information about your surroundings. You have probably seen glass smashing before and you are very experienced with gravity. Your consciousness accesses all of this to build a universe in the mental plane where the cup falls from the table and smashes on the floor.
You don’t even have to access visual information to do this, it can just be a hypothetical. You’ve experienced this hypothetical if you’ve ever moved a cup away from the edge of a table, just in case. “Just in case” is your attempt to make the universe with a shattered glass less plausible in reality.
You cannot ever know someone, rather, you only know the character that you create to represent a person. The better you know the person, the more accurately your character depicts them. Therefore, your characters are yours to play with in the universes that you build. You have the ability to place your characters into scenarios and play them out. Have you ever had a dream involving your coworkers or classmates? You have just accessed their character and are anticipating how they will behave in the universe you built.
The universes that you build can be nothing more than a hypothetical statement or can be as detailed as Middle Earth or that galaxy far, far away. The more details you put into a universe, the more accurately you can depict the events of that universe. Remember, a universe is not just a single story, a story takes place within a universe. There’s a reason so much fan fiction exists within universes that have already been established.
When you build a universe, you have the choice to allocate your consciousness to a character within that universe to live out a scenario within your own mind. Empathy is just building a “realistic” universe and living out a scenario as the character you are empathizing with. You can also choose to enter a universe and play out scenarios for extra practice if you are anxious about an upcoming presentation or asking your crush on a date. It’s your personal universe, you can even turn off gravity and fly around if you want.
You build hundreds of universes every day to help you make decisions and predict future possibilities. Optimism and pessimism are terms that describe whether your universe ends positively or negatively, respectively. A universe that ends positively for yourself or others is called hope. The universes you build that end negatively are called doubt. Remember that you have the ability to change reality to reflect your own universe, just create a plausible story and follow the steps to get you there.