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Changing your personal narrative – philosophy

March 20, 2017

It has been a while coming, but this is the next installment in my “how to change your personal narrative” series. As with pretty much everything I write on this topic, there’s a decent chance you’ve already read something similar to what I write here. That’s okay. When it comes to “what life is all about” and “how do I get the life I want” type questions, there’s really nothing new out there. Jim Rohn used to say he wanted to “talk about some old stuff.” I figure, if it’s good enough for Mr. Rohn, it’s good enough for a redneck kid from North Carolina.

Today’s topic is philosophy. Please understand that when I use the word philosophy, I’m not talking about the writings of some dead guys who used big words to explain concepts that were hard enough to understand before they got hold of them. I have previously defined philosophy as “everything you know and how you choose to let it affect you.” To that I added “…it is what you know and how you act based upon what you know.”This is the definition to keep in mind for this post.

Let’s start with this: we know a whole lot more than we can do. This has some real world implications for all of us. For instance, while I may know how to save money for the future, I may also know how to live beyond my means (or I may at least know that each of these is possible). But, while I know both, I can’t consistently do both. Likewise, while I may know how to run the Operating Room for a major medical center and how to run a full-time hypnosis clinic that sees people for 8-10 hours every day, I can’t do both at the same time. This is why the definition of philosophy matters. We can only act on a portion of everything we know.

Since we can only act on a portion of what we know, and since the things we know (whether experientially, by what we’ve read, by what we’ve seen from others or by what others have told us) can greatly influence us, it’s important to know what those things are and how we’re letting them affect us.

Let’s pretend for the moment your definition of a successful or well-lived life, the life you want to live, includes doing as little as you possibly can to make money and living as simply as humanly possible. And yet, you seem to always find yourself working long, hard hours in a job that pays far more than you believe you need. Why would you do such a thing? Well, let’s further pretend you were raised by Depression era parents who worked diligently to instill in you both a work ethic that was perhaps excessive and a need to achieve material success. These two things, I submit, would be in conflict with this hypothetical life you want.

Here’s another example. Pretend you want to make a lot of money. In this case, we’ll define “a lot of money” as a consistent 7 figure personal income. Let’s also say you grew believing honesty and integrity are vitally important. At the same time, you grew up in a time and place where the common attitude toward those with a lot of money was that having a lot of money was proof of being dishonest. It was proof the person with a lot of money had schemed and cheated his way to wealth. Financial success, then = dishonesty.

In both cases, a person could find himself/herself sabotaging their very best efforts to achieve what they wanted. Why? Because your subconscious mind, the part of your mind that is concerned, not with what is right or wrong, good or bad, or moral or immoral, but with what is familiar, keeps bringing you back to what is familiar and psychologically comfortable. It keeps you doing things that are consistent with your philosophy.

What then, are we to do? If it is a person’s philosophy that determine what he/she does, regardless of what he/she wants, how is that behavior to be changed? Fortunately, there are some answers.

For the person who really wants to know, who really wants to increase his/her self-awareness, it is possible to learn what your philosophy is regarding almost any aspect of life. More than that, not only can you know your philosophy, you can change it.

How to do those two things, knowing what your philosophy is and changing it once you know what it is, will be the topics of the next post in this series.

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