Monthly Archives: July 2013

Me, myself, and I, and I, and I

383193_9453I have long suspected that I have multiple personality disorder. Put me in a room full of people and I get shy, put me on a stage and I perform. I am calm in traffic, but impatient when my PC drags. Call it what you will, I am a different person in different contexts. Wierd. I am wrong about one thing though, it isn’t a disorder.

The fact is that we all have multiple personalities. We flow effortlessly from personality to personality as the situation requires, the only time it becomes a disorder is when that flow gets disrupted and we get our personalities confused. You would not be the person you are at work when you are with your kids right? You would be the person you are with your girlfriend/boyfriend when you are with your parents right? Surely this is just the same person choosing different behaviours? Perhaps, but when you understand personality you will see that a rose is not a rose when it is a daffodil.

Personality is nothing more than the unique product of a number of beliefs and values working together. Like the ingredients of a cake they produce the yummy end result, but change an ingredient and you no longer have the same cake. The reason why you are a different person in different circumstances is because you are accessing a different set of beliefs and values to match that environment, you pick the beliefs and values that will produce the kind of behaviour that you think will be the most appropriate. The fact that you sometimes produce the wrong behaviour is not a symptom of a disorder, but rather a sign that you need to keep learning.

Personality, in other words, is nothing more than what happens as a result of learning to cope. It always has a goal, personality is designed to get you something. Think about, you crack a joke, why? You pass an opinion, why? You hold your tongue, why? Personality is a strategy designed with a specific outcome in mind. Think of you computer, it has many programs that are all different, you wouldn’t say that any of them are the same program, yet all a program is is code arranged in a certain way to produce a certain result.

There is a lot of freedom in accepting that your personalities are nothing more than programming designed to get a certain result. It means that if you can learn to design a personality then you can pick one that will get you the results you want. This raises an interesting question, if you are not your personality, then who are you?  For now it is suffice to say that “you” are the one who can observe all your personalities. Try this, take a step back (mentally) and watch the stream of thoughts flowing through your mind, now you are getting closer to the real you. So personality is actually nothing more than a coat you wear, and you can change it at will (although it is mostly done unconsciously). Try something else now, pretend to be happy for a second, go on, try it. Smile, stretch, throw your head back. Now pretend to be cross, knit your eyebrows, fold your arms, growl. You just changed clothes and it was that easy.

Ok, so I know that you simply react in a circumstance, it’s not like you consciously choose to behave a certain way. What starts out as a reaction, if repeated enough times, becomes unconscious behaviour. The same also applies if you choose to respond in a certain way in a circumstance, if you repeat that response a few times, it will become unconscious behaviour. Reacting is basically a fear response, it is fight or flight in action. A life of reaction results in undesirable behaviours. Responding on the other hand, is stopping and thinking and choosing your behaviour – and choosing means choosing the best possible ones. If a certain behaviour doesn’t work, you choose another, and another, until you find one that does. This is how a brilliant personality is formed.

A documentary came out recently that nicely demonstrated this point. “Kumare” is about a young man who decides to grow a beard and pretend to be a Guru, and then film the journey. He “pretends” to be the best possible version of himself (actually not really a version, a whole different personality). The results was that he gained followers, he changed lives, and most of all, he changed himself in the process. It makes a powerful statement about the choices you make and stick with (behaviour wise). I dare you to try it, think of the best possible version of yourself and pretend to be that person. Every time you look in the mirror, decide to be someone you really like and admire. It’s not easy, so just try it a little here and little there. You will be astounded with the results. Actually you probably won’t even notice them, real change is like that, it happens quietly over time.

It’s all in your mind! http://www.imagineif.co.za

 

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