When it comes to change the first hurdles are always mental. Firstly people don’t believe it’s possible at all. Then even if they concede it’s possible, they doubt how much can be changed.
Being the fundamentalist I am, I wouldn’t be interested in change if the answer to all those questions wasn’t a complete and utter yes.
I propose change of almost any part, and any proportion of your actions, mentality, and personality is possible. Far from being a mutant, Mimic from X-Men, is really the most truthful representation of human nature.
But there is a third question, which is also the trickiest one: ‘should I change?’ If we have the power to create our own characters should we use it?
This is the most philosophical, and complex, and interesting question of all (and deserves a post of its own).
Here I’m arguing that absolute change is possible. So, how exactly?
It lies in the interplay between the conscious and the subconscious. Character is formed in the subconscious by integrating millions of strands of experiences and meanings, like candy floss, or a ball of wool, into a somewhat coherent whole.
People think there’s a wall between the two minds, and the subconscious is a dark, tumultuous source of problems and instincts they can’t control. That’s where the blueprint of their personality has been set, ‘that’s just who I am’ they say.
Psychologists compound the problem by blaming your shitty early upbringing, parents or biological settings for current problems. Of course it’s in the past which can’t be changed.
But there are many hidden doorways between the conscious and subconscious. With these the conscious mind can reach in and slowly unravel that ball of wool, then reintegrate and re-engineer it to whatever form you want.
The doorways are not obvious because the subconscious is such a complex, amorphous thing, there’s no direct path to its door. I also think it contains much more than just our character. Rather it’s our oracle containing scripts from millions of years of evolution, and all our potential in the future. It’s a box that we haven’t come close to unpacking yet.
One doorway is art, which opens that mysterious potential. It generates ideas and is a bridge between this world and the next. But it’s very fickle with unpredictable results.
To consciously craft who you are, you need a more humble but reliable channel that goes from the conscious mind to the subconscious.
I used to think it was just repetition, but this blogger does a much better, more thorough analysis of it using computer programming. I totally agree, being a former programmer as well (long story, former life I'd rather forget). I tried it, and I'm the most sceptical person in the world, but it changed my mind like flipping a switch.
Thus you can shine the light of self consciousness on the dark corners of your nature.
If this is done over a wide enough range, then it changes an entire worldview. Even the most deeply ingrained character traits can be worked out like a knot with enough repetition, time and effort.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy, and here is where traditional motivation strategies fail.
Repetition is a deceptively simple concept to grasp, but the hardest thing to actually do because it involves the deeply philosophical questions of motivation – the same three questions posed at the beginning of the post.
Moreover it’s not enough to answer them just the once. For every change you pay a price of time multiplied by effort – quite often the time of change takes years. During that time those three questions will come up again and again, and you will have to constantly re-answer them.
Of the three the last, ‘should I change?’ is the deadliest, and is the crux of motivation.
But at some point the subconscious takes over – and that’s when change really starts, it gets compounded and magnified and escalated. When it gets into the realm of the subconscious, character has been unravelled and reintegrated.
Change asks a lot from the conscious mind, but that’s the price of courting the powerful subconscious.
Children’s books that made me rethink careers
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