Can You Really Change Yourself?

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One of my favorite writers is Mark Manson, the author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.  He has a brilliant and contrarian way of viewing the human experience and his writing is always thought-provoking.

He really had me thinking on a recent blog where he made the argument that you can’t change yourself.  His basic premise is that you need to keep your “self” out of the discussion entirely.

Mark says, “Why can’t you change yourself?  Because the whole idea of change is an arbitrary construct.  It’s something you just made up to make yourself feel good (or bad).”  As an example, he uses the idea of becoming the person who regularly goes to the gym.

“It’s one thing to say, ‘I want to start going to the gym every week.’  It’s another to say, ‘It’s time I finally change and become the type of person who goes to the gym each week.’

“The first statement is simple.  You want to go to the gym.  So, you go (or not).

“The second statement implies that to go to the gym, you must completely reinvent yourself.  And that raises the emotional stakes massively.  If you succeed (spoiler: you won’t), you’ll gain this blissful feeling of being a ‘new person,’ which will last until the next time you feel crappy and want to ‘change’ again.  If you fail, you’ll chastise yourself for your irredeemable sloth.”

It’s a very Zen-like or even stoic approach to creating a certain identity about yourself, and the dangers of that.  So I get that, and as always, Mark has me thinking.  But this runs contrary to a great deal of the foundational structure of my own beliefs and work.

Because I very much believe you can change yourself.  And instead of thinking the process shallow and impossible, I find it wonderfully introspective and rewarding.  And yet I do understand his trepidation about succeeding in changing your behavior, and concern that after the high wear offs, you’ll need to define for yourself a new type of “change” to accomplish.

However, that can be the best part…

But only if you accept and appreciate the joy is in the journey.  And only if you understand the most vital part of the process.  (At least from my perspective.)  And that is this…

I do believe you can actually change, and become a higher version of yourself, and the “kind” of person you want to become.  And to do that successfully, you must make the most dramatic change of all:

Changing the way you think.

Literally.  You have to think about what you think about.  Choose your thoughts mindfully, making a conscious choice for the ones that lead you forward to a higher consciousness.

In my opinion both Mark and I get you to the same end result, which is changing your behaviors to ones that create the results you’re seeking.

I believe when you change your thoughts, you actually do change yourself.

What do you think?  Please check in below.

-RG

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