I am not who I thought I was.
It sounds so dramatic, but really it’s not. None of us are who we think we are, and it’s okay. We change all the time. Humans are like rivers, but we think we’re like glaciers – we think we change slowly and only when we notice, but really, we’re in constant flux.
I thought I hated exercise, but actually, I love it. I love it! It’s not just that I don’t mind exercising, or that I’ll do it because it’s good for me – I love it. But I haven’t done it in months and months because I had this stale view of myself wherein I was a person who hated exercise.
My self-concept was certainly stale when I over-committed myself and sparked the return of my hydra.
Our self-concepts are incredibly important. I’d even go so far as to say they’re vital – it’s all we have of our selves and our world. When someone (even ourself) challenges our self-concept, things get ugly really fast. Strong self-concepts are behind all manner of problems in the world: there are people who are anti-gay, for example, and that’s part of their weave, and they can’t (but really they won’t) change it, even if they come to know someone who’s gay. It’s only when they change their self-perception and go from anti-gay to accepting that they’re able to accept someone else.
This is extremely important.
Our selves constantly change. I love blueberries today, but next week I may not. It depends on what happens to me between now and then. Maybe I’ll eat too many blueberries in a sitting and overdose on them, and need to go months without eating them. Maybe my (imaginary) dog will get run over by a blueberry truck, and the memory will be so painful I will never eat blueberries again.
But when asked, I might say I like them – even though it’s no longer true – because in my self-concept, I am a person who loves blueberries.
Oooh! We just watched Star Trek: The Next Generation: Nemesis and it’s totally relevant. The Big Baddie was a kid who was Picard – cloned – and he was eeeeeevil. And Picard really struggled with his self-concept because he was someone who would never act like this kid was acting – but this kid was him, for all genetic purposes. It wasn’t about what Picard was made of, it was about what had happened to him throughout his life. And as soon as he accepted the fact that, had he lived the same life his clone had lived, he would be doing exactly what his clone was doing, he was able to outthink the kid and save the day. (Mostly.)
But he had to change his self-concept from someone who would never ever do what this kid was doing to someone who, under the same incredibly horrific and painful circumstances, would do exactly what this kid was doing.
And therein lies the kicker. Most of us think we’re above certain acts or beliefs. I posit that none of us are above anything, really. It all comes down to what happens to us. It’s a recurring theme in Hollywood – there’s some grumpy old person who’s nasty to everyone, and in the beginning of the story, everyone learns to avoid them or everyone hates them or everyone always talks about how awful they are, but then we spend some time with the nasty grumpy old person, and we learn that they’re not just nasty, grumpy, or old – they’re in pain. Something terrible has happened to them at some point in their lives, and they’ve hardened their hearts and become nasty.
And we all think we’re above that kind of behavior – and we are all wrong.
That’s not to say that I think there’s some nasty grumpy old person sitting around inside of us, just waiting for an excuse to pop out and turn us into hermits – I don’t think that. It’s certainly not in my self-concept! But I am saying that, inside every single one of us is the possibility to become anything.
Do you see how powerful this is?!
I was a person who hated exercise. I avoided it, hemmed and hawed about it, procrastinated doing it – even though, the whole time, I was wishing I could somehow miraculously become a person in good shape. It was written into my code that I hated exercise. It was ingrained in my self-concept.
But I was wrong. Somewhere along the line, I became a person who loves exercise. I didn’t know it until I started questioning my resistance against exercising – and then I realized that I had no reason whatsoever. I was resisting because it wasn’t part of who I am. And the best part is, I can update my self-concept to become a person who loves exercising – and that frees me from the resistance. (To simplify. It’s not quite entirely that simple. But it’s close.)
And my self-concept used to say I was not a writer. But I realized that was stale, too, and I changed my self-concept to “I am a writer!” And you know what? I’ve been writing every single day since then. I can’t stop the words; they pour from me.
So, what can you change your self-concept to include?