“The starting point of maturity is the realization that no one is coming to the rescue. Everything you are or ever will be is entirely up to you.”
~ Brian Tracy ~
If I want to make a change, I will have to accept personal responsibility for making that happen. Second, if I want to make a change I have to CHANGE MY BEHAVIOR. This is absolutely crucial because to create different results and conditions in Life, I have to change my actions. The key question thus becomes: How can I change my behaviour?
Explaining versus Declaring
Werner Erhard (2009) suggests that the current model of the social sciences is one of explaining behaviour. He refers to this as the ‘in-there/out-there’ model as it explains behaviour by either external conditions or internal traits of a person.
I already established that explaining behaviour in terms of external conditions diffuses responsibility and the same can be said about internal traits, as most people ascribe these to either genetic or environmental factors. The challenge with this model is that does not directly address how I can change my behaviour, it is more focused on explaining why ‘what is’ is the way that it is. This model is about taking an inventory of the status quo (current conditions) and finding an explanation for why things are the way they are as-of-now. The model explains current conditions in terms of past events or circumstances.
The explanations that this model produces help me feel safe and secure; they serve my need for predictability. These explanations can also keep me stuck in behaving in old ways, by staying with the safe and predictable.
For this reason, Werner Erhard (2009) suggests a new model for human behaviour, which focuses more directly on changing behaviour, rather than explaining it. This model is described in-depth in the ‘Three Laws of Performance’ by Zaffron and Logan (2009).
In this book, the authors state that performance is a correlate with how the world occurs for people and how people occur for themselves. Second, they state that both how the world occurs for people and how people occur for themselves is rooted in language. Thirdly, they state that people’s occurring may be altered, by shifting the way they use language. When the occurring is altered, performance is altered as well. The shift in the use of language is from one in which performance is explained to one in which declarations about performance are made. Language that explains performance is always focused on the past, whereas declarations are definite statements that refer to how I am going to live my Life from this point forward. An example would be when Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus. At that moment, she made a declaration. She didn’t explain her having to sit in the back of the bus; she made declaration that she wasn’t going to move there.
I will integrate the new model Werner Erhard (2009) poses with various concepts about which I’ve written thru-out this book:
My behaviour is concomitant with my paradigm (worldview) and self-schema. Changing my behaviour requires changing my self-schema and this implies challenge and stress.
If I am already under too much challenge and stress in my Life, self-change will not occur for me as an authentic possibility.
In order for self-change to occur as an authentic possibility, I will have to reduce the challenge and stress levels in my Life.
This can be achieved by processing and completing past hurts, ridding myself of addictions and taking care of my own needs in a quality way. Doing this will restore my health, integrity, self-esteem and desire for exploration and adventure.
With these improvements, I will get hungry and eager for self-change, as I will get reference experiences (confirming evidence) that self-change is fun, not scary.
When self-change occurs to me as fun, I can now explore what is possible.
This allows me to design a vision of the future of how I want things to be and to make a declaration for making it a reality.
Setting High Standards for Living
When self-esteem is restored, I will naturally feel like I deserve the best Life has to offer.
I will want to set a higher standard for living for myself. According to Tony Robbins, raising your standards is one of the most important keys to success. Raising my standards starts with making sure my needs are met in a high quality manner. This means that I will not settle for less than the best in terms of taking care of my basic needs.
By creating new standards and focusing on living up to these standards, I notice that my attention shifts towards more internally based concepts for my self-schema. Just like my goals and my values, my standards are an internally based concept. By setting higher standards for myself, I am already changing my self-schema to be more internally-based. The focus is on valuing the self first (taking care of myself and having my needs met) and taking other people into consideration second. This may sound like a selfish notion and it is. The truth is that you can’t help another person out, when you don’t have your own Life sorted. In airplane emergency instructional video’s they always state:
“When cabin pressure drops, please put on your own oxygen mask first, before aiding your children in putting on theirs.”
It’s the same idea. We have to take good care of ourselves, before we can help another out.
Actual versus Ideal self
Raising my standards, setting new goals and changing my self-schema will involve challenge, tension and uncertainty in the form of cognitive dissonance. Current reality does not correspond yet with the new internally based concepts (new goals and standards for living) in my self-schema. Fortunately, I have more space available for the stress that this challenge, tension and uncertainty may bring. As I’ve completed past hurts and brought down stress levels in my Life, these new challenges do not overwhelm me, but add a healthy level of excitement and adventure to my Life. The discrepancy between my Actual Self (the self I am now) and my Ideal Self (the self I aspire to be) makes Life inspiring and creates an exciting anticipation for what the future has to offer.
“Mental health is based on a certain degree of tension:
The tension between what one already has achieved and what one still ought to accomplish, or the gap of what one is and what one wants to become.
Such a tension is inherent in a human being and is therefore
indispensable to mental wellbeing. We should not be hesitant about
challenging man with a potential meaning for him to fulfil.
It is only then when we evoke his will to meaning from its state of latency. I consider it a dangerous misconception of mental hygiene to assume that what man needs in the first place is equilibrium, or as it is called in biology, homeostasis, that is, a tensionless state. What man actually needs is not a tensionless state, but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.
What man needs is not homeostasis, but what I call ‘no dynamics’, that is, the
existential dynamics in a polar field of tension, where one pole is represented
by a meaning that is to be fulfilled and the other by the man who has to fulfil it.”
~ Viktor Frankl ~
The ‘gap between what one is and what one wants to become’ is the gap between the Actual and the Ideal self and this gap creates cognitive dissonance. This is the ‘certain degree of tension’ Frankl talks about in the above quote. How one fills in his/her ideal self is entirely up to the individual. It is the answer to this question: How do I want to be? What higher version of self do I aspire to evolve and grow into?
Some people might be completely fine and just want to be exactly as they are now. More often than not, these people are simply already challenged enough by just living their Life in and of itself. Just to ‘get-by’ and survive is stressful enough, adding any extra goals or vision regarding their Ideal self would create too much tension and overload them, so they don’t bother with it too much. I think this is why some people simply are not into self-help and personal growth type materials, because they perceive it as just more work in an already stressful Life.
That’s why it is so key to complete past hurt, remove all sources of (dis)stress in my Life and get my needs met in a quality way. The less I am burdened by past pain and slowed down by stressors in my Life, the more cognitive dissonance I can handle from an aspiring Ideal self. In other words, I will have more capacity to take on bigger challenges.
The next book piece drops at Wednesday February 8th on the topic of new ways of relating to the Self-schema and builds towards how to effectively change behavior…
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