Principle: Integrity and Self-trust
“Without integrity, nothing works.”
~ Erhard, Jensen & Zaffron, 2009 ~
According to Werner Erhard, an important aspect of integrity is keeping my word. Keeping my word means doing what I say I will. When I tell someone I will do a certain thing and then I go ahead and do that thing; that persons trust in me will grow.
My words are integer; I do what I say I will. When I don’t do what I say I will, I will lose peoples trust, simply because they find they cannot rely on me.
The same process happens in speaking to myself (thinking).
When I commit to a Self-Change Project, I’m basically saying to myself:
“I will go do this new behaviour.”
If then, I fail to execute and do what I had set out to do; I will lose trust in myself. If I keep failing at making changes (due to the fact I’m overstressed, over-challenged and make poor (non-strategic) plans for Self-Change), I will eventually lose trust (confidence) in my ability to bring about Self-Change.
With repeated failure, I may give up on trying to bring about changes in my behaviour and simply resign to the status quo (the way things are as-of-now).
With the loss of self-trust (confidence) in my own initiatives to bring about Self-Change, I may place my trust in someone else.
After all, my experience is that this Self cannot be trusted as a source for telling me how to act. Perhaps it would be better to go look outside for someone who can tell me how to act.
In some instances it may be appropriate to trust and rely on someone else; in other instances it may not.
In any endeavour there is a choice to either self-trust or rely on (trust in) someone else. In embarking on a journey to learn something new it is KEY to trust in someone else first. Surrendering to a skilled and adept teacher and trusting what he will teach you can greatly facilitate learning. It works much faster than trying to figure the skill out yourself and deal with the high level of trial-and-error that goes with having to learn something all by yourself. However, there are other instances in which not being able to self-trust can become problematic.
For one, when self-trust is lacking in just being who I am, choosing my behaviour and making choices about what I want my Life to be about. If I self-doubt in being who I am, I will look outside for other people to define me. Doubting in defining who I want to be, I’m like a leaf in the wind, bending to whatever circumstances happen to mould me in. I try to get someone else to make decisions for me, as the self cannot be trusted to make those decisions. Better to leave choices up to those who are certain about themselves.
There is a payoff for not self-trusting: I get to blame other people if things don’t go like I want them to. This relieves me off responsibility to acknowledge I’m wrong, plus to think for myself, as well as being willing to stand alone. Looking to the masses for what to believe and how to live my Life is much easier than to decide for myself. Unfortunately, without self-trust, chances are very small I’ll create the Life I want.
Therefore, it is important to start keeping my word and executing the Self-Change Projects like I plan them. This will gain me more Self-trust (confidence) and will make it more likely that I will:
Principle: Operate from an internal locus of control
“True nobility is not being better than anyone else;
it is about being better than you used to be.”
~ Wayne Dyer ~
When I shift my locus of control to the inside, it means that I have a sense that I can exert a certain degree of control over my own behaviour. Even though the degree of conscious and deliberate control (influence) over my behaviour is very small (the .1 % I talked about in the previous part), I can ensure that more of my automated behavioural habits get influenced by my own degree of conscious willpower. The way I do this is by turning ideas and intentions for changing my behaviour into specific goals and action plans in the form of Self-Change Projects. By repeatedly installing new behaviours using deliberate control and conscious willpower, over time the automated 99.9% of my behaviour becomes more influenced by the .1% of conscious control that I do have.
Also, I can stop focusing on explaining my behaviour in terms of external conditions and start putting the emphasis on making declarations for executing new behaviours for a pre-set amount of time. In this way, I can shift my attention towards exercising conscious control in changing my behaviour, rather than remaining stuck with a set of reasons for why things are the way they are as-of-now. Like I made clear in the first part, Social Science (and observation in general) is taking an inventory of how the world is at this moment. It is in no way, shape or form an accurate reflection of what is actually possible.
When my mind comes up with explanations about why things are the way they are as-of-now and about why I can’t change, I just see it as my mind’s tendency to cling to the old, safe and familiar. I view it as my need for predictability and to feel secure. I cast aside the explanations and focus on the real issue, my sense of feeling insecure. Once I’ve handled that, I find my need to explain vanish and my mind more readily steers into the direction of making some changes.
Next, in operating from an internal locus of control, I should make myself the point of reference in seeing how well I’m doing in terms of Self-Change. I don’t investigate how well I stack up against other people, but I look at how far I’ve come. Instead of doing social comparison with other people, I do Self-comparison. If I compare myself with other people I can always find people that are better than me and feel bad about myself.
On the other hand, it’s also very easy to find people that are worse off than me to make myself feel better (and self-enhance). The reality of it is that none of this is really relevant. Real degrees of progress are illustrated when I compare my current conditions with where I used to be.
In this way, I can see how far I’ve come and what I’ve achieved this far. This helps me to see that the exercise of my deliberate willpower has been paying off and motivate me to keep taking right action in the future.
Finally, with an internal locus of control, I no longer give so much significance to what other people’s opinions are. The feedback other people give me is acknowledged, listened to and taken into account, but it has minimal impact on how I feel about myself and how I choose to conduct my life. What other people say is not to be taken too seriously; especially not when it is destructive in nature. A lot of times when people be hating;
it’s just the crabs-in-the-bucket syndrome at work.
“If people can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it.
If you want something, go get it. Period.”
~ The Pursuit of Happiness ~
I may have a tendency to listen to destructive criticism and try to defend myself, simply due to my need for social acceptance. However, gaining social acceptance, seeking approval and winning their favour puts me at the mercy of their opinion about me. The opinion of other people is an externally based concept, and when I let it fill in my Self-schema it will make my identity prone to cognitive dissonance. As a general rule, it’s better to let negative feedback from other people just fall by the wayside and focus on what I want to do. Like the Tao te Ching states:
“Seeking favour is degrading:
Alarming when it is gotten,
Alarming when it is lost.”
Principle: Be with the Weirdness
“A fool is probably not down very far from where you are
when you’re worried about looking like one.”
~ Werner Erhard ~
While seeking favour (as Lao-Tse stated in the Tao te Ching), looking for approval and caring about other people’s opinions, I will try my best to not come across like a fool. When I do so, I may end up sacrificing any unique and eccentric aspects of my true personality for the sake of looking good. In the process of wanting to make a favourable impression, my spontaneity and natural self-expression may be inhibited. This is no fun.
I used to be afraid that people would find out what a weird guy I was, until I realized how much I actually enjoyed being with the Weirdness. Acting a little wacky at times is a valuable aspect of being human and this quality is intact in almost all children.
Also, acting silly, fucking around and talking shit with friends is a great way to relieve stress and it just takes the heaviness and seriousness of Life off. There is a time and place for all aspects of my personality and to cut off or repress certain parts of Self is to limit my range for being and acting in the world. The thing is; it’s just one aspect of Life to just talk shit, joke around and act silly with friends. In some contexts I may act all serious and professional, yet in another I may act the fool. I don’t shy away from expressing wacky aspects of my personality, but I don’t force it either. Being with the Weirdness is not about acting like a fool just to get attention, behaving weird for the sake of it or being silly when I don’t feel like it. It’s just enjoyment of a natural side of my personality, expressing it however I want and not suppress it in order to make a good impression.
I tend to inhibit this part of me when I get too caught up with looking good, gaining favour and seeking approval when I’m unsure about whether or not I have social acceptance from people. It’s when I’m uncertain whether or not people will like and accept the Weirdness that I bring. Some people may not be cool with the Weirdness, but this is just due to the fact that they are not comfortable with their own Weirdness; i.e. too caught up with looking good, take Life too seriously, etc.
Accepting and being with the Weirdness is kind of similar to how one relates to the experience of pain, as expressing Weirdness is sometimes met with social rejection by peers. Social rejection, looking like a fool and being laughed at by other people triggers the same brain circuits (the thalamus, insular cortex and anterior cingulate cortex) as does actual physical pain. As a consequence, I may repress being with my Weirdness.
Ultimately, it all comes down to being cool with experiencing any kind of experience and not go into compulsive experience-altering behaviours as an escape.
“Wheatson was a poet,” Mykonos said, referring to a soldier he knew
who died in Vietnam. “He was a great man, capable of converting
the most hellish circumstances into poetry.”
“My friend,” Mykonos said to me, “this is what everyone wants, one way or another.
To see the horror of this place and not recoil, that is what it means to be a man.
To stand strong in this knowledge of love, even when everything hurts,
that is what it means to be free as a man. Wheatson was such a man.”
There are different ways one can relate to the experience of pain.
The hallmark of this is Jesus on the cross and how he chooses to bear the cross.
He can suffer thru it, or he can embrace and surrender to the current reality of pain.
It’s taking the pain like a man (or woman), instead of suffering thru it like a victim.
Viktor Frankl’s (1946) story in ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ is a testimony to this.
He shows how it is possible to create an empowering context while being situated in a Nazi concentration camp in a state of starvation, frost-bite and hard labour, with cruelty, whippings and death all around you. He somehow managed to remain open to the pain and not collapse into it. He truly understood that pain is inevitable, but that suffering is optional. Frankl was able to ‘create beautiful poetry out of a hellish circumstance’, by creating meaning thru wanting to share his insights and experiences in the camp, while everyone around him abandoned hope, because circumstances looked hopeless.
While almost everyone around him lived into a future of dreading the gas chamber or freezing to death, Frankl focused on enjoying an extra pea in his soup and was living into a future of writing his new book and sharing his message with the world.
“Life is not the focus, the avoidance of pain is.”
~ Pook ~
Because of all the ‘fucked-up shit’ that may happen in Life, my mind may get primed to look out for trouble. As a consequence, my focus and attention is directed towards keeping me away from harm, being vigilant for any form of threat and ensuring my survival.
Alan Watts calls this aspect of my ego (which looks out for my security by making Life safe and predictable) a trouble-shooter or a radar that locates potential threats.
This radar (trouble-shooter) has a positive intention as it is simply geared towards making me feel safe and secure, but as I pointed out in the first two parts, it may also hinder Self-Change and impair healthy growth and development.
The default experience for human beings is to feel great about our conduct and to be wild, weird and spontaneous. This experience usually gets messed with by painful negative, scarring events, no adequate processing and completion of the hurts that trauma/abuse will bring, addictions, self-defeating mind-sets, limiting self-schemas, destructive habits, making poor (or no) decisions in Life and taking poor care of myself (not ensuring my needs are met in a quality manner).
In order to create long-term (lasting) changes in my behaviour, all of these issues need to be addressed and be turned into a practice of some sort. Meeting my own needs in these areas is essential to all facets of health (physical, emotional, mental).
Leading into this, the next book piece is on the topic of Getting my needs met
in a quality manner and it will drop on Friday February 17th…
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