I think it would be safe to say that most people would like to change some aspect of who they are. â€śI wish I wasnâ€™t such a procrastinatorâ€ť, or â€śI wish I wasnâ€™t such a depressed person all the timeâ€ť, or â€śI wish I could be more outgoingâ€ť, etc. They read the books, employ some tactics that seem to have a small measure of success, but inevitably revert back to where they started, with no real lasting change manifested.
So why is it that only a small majority seem to create lasting change and the vast majority donâ€™t? What separates them and why? What is the root reason?
Letâ€™s first look at how most people try to change themselves. Most people try to go about changing themselves through external means.
For example, some people who are depressed like to change themselves by turning to drugs in order to elevate their mood and feel happy. Sooner or later, the drug wears off, so they want more of it. They then become accustomed to that drug, so they require a more potent one and the cycle continues. The basic life of a drug addict right there.
Trying to change yourselves via external means is futile. Itâ€™s a temporary solution. A patch that will just get you by. The solution then lies not on fixing the outside, but on fixing the inside. You have to work from the inside out, not vice versa. It follows then that the reason why people donâ€™t create lasting change is because they have not reprogrammed themselves at their innermost level. What is this innermost level?
In two words: Self Image.
Your self image dictates your every action and is pretty much responsible for everything in your life right now. It is essentially how you view yourself mentally, which then manifests itself on the outside. Your every action is based on that self image. The reason why you’re a procrastinator? Your self image is that of a procrastinator. The reason why you’re always depressed? Your self image is that of a depressed person. The reason why you’re shy? Your self image is that of a shy person.
Without question, the self image is an extremley powerful force that influences our lives on a daily basis. But how did your self image form in the first place?
When you were a baby, you were pretty much like clay in the sense that you were free to be molded in any which way. You probably got molded primarily by your parents first, then your friends, then society. In other words, your self image was essentially formed by those around you by what they said or implied you were.
Once the self image is formed based on that, your actions and perception of reality become conducive to that self image, further reinforcing it. Because of the actions you take and your skewed perception of reality, you get additional information that reinforces the self image even further.
So letâ€™s take an example through this cycle to get a better understanding of how the self image is formed and how it influences our daily lives.
An alcoholic father abuses his son and constantly tells him heâ€™s a good for nothing lazy kid whoâ€™ll never do good in school. The child’s self image has been formed. Lazy, good for nothing kid who’ll never do good in school.
How does this manifest? Because the child sees himself as lazy and unsuccessful in school, guess what? Heâ€™s going to be lazy and unsuccessful in school. He wonâ€™t turn in homework, he wonâ€™t complete projects, he won’t bother to do any work in class. The child then looks at the report card he gets and perceives that as further reinforcement of his laziness. His father takes a look at it too and starts calling him lazy and good for nothing, which guess what, reinforces the self image even more. Pretty soon, the child gets additional information from classmates and teachers who call him lazy as well, which again, reinforces his self image even more.
Repeat this cycle for a number of years and his self image eventually solidifies like concrete.
Think about how you perceive yourself right now and see if you canâ€™t trace it back to any feedback you got from your parents, family, friends, and society. Then try to take it through the cycle above and see how your actions and perceptions of reality have been skewed in order to be conducive to the self image you hold today.
Have you ever wondered why some people claim positive thinking doesn’t work? It’s because their self image is one of negativity. Sure, they can try to give reality a positive meaning sometimes, but in the end, the negative self image will always win. The negative self image will always interpret reality negative automatically.
The key here is not to try to â€śforceâ€ť a positive meaning on reality. Itâ€™s to change your self image to a positive one so you start to automatically interpret reality that is conducive and supportive to that new positive self image. In other words, make the process work FOR you, not against you.
Therein, lies the secret of change. It is to change the self image to the point where it works FOR you on autopilot and not against you. Whatever change you wish to make of yourself, the secret lies in changing the self image, so that everything flows from that and naturally gets reinforced through the actions and interpretations of reality that follow.
But how can you change the self image after it has been shaped so long ago and reinforced all this time by your actions and perceptions of reality? That subject will be covered in the next article.