Is your personality real or is it just a memory?
How to become a banana
We all have a story and we’re all great story tellers.
You might consider yours a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ story, you might say it’s been mostly joyful or tragic. You might feel it’s been exciting and eventful or maybe not so much…
Either way, you have one, and you identify with it. You think this is who you are – the accumulation of these tales you tell yourself and others.
You recreate them in your imagination to organise a logical connection in time between your past and present circumstances.
“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
~ Philip Pullman ~
Have you ever looked at a childhood or baby photo of yours and felt like you were looking at a stranger? You look at the image, and your mind registers it as ‘you’, but you can’t quite identify with this little person.
You connect the two of you through that story through time, whether you fully remember the actual events or just remember the fact they happened.
But is it really ‘you’? Physically, that child has long gone. Your cells in your entire body have already died and renewed themselves more than a few times over.
Can you recognise that little person inside your body right now? Or are they more like a distant dream, a tale you recreate over and over to explain the link between you?
Why is this a problem?
Of course, stories and experiences you’ve been through have shaped your thinking, feelings and as a result – behaviour patterns.
You’ve been influenced by all the wonderful and shitty things that have happened to you and around you.
And you automatically and unconsciously connect to these memories to make choices and decisions based on ‘who you are’.
Neurologically, your brain automatically resorts to past stored input; information and responses (regardless of whether they were objective, correct, accurate or even useful) in the form of neural connections that have been made before.
It then continues repeating them over and over, reinforcing them as ‘short cuts’ – so that it can save time, energy and effort.
It’s a super-machine – it just loves being efficient like that.
So you end up acting out an automatic programme most of the time.
And what if this programme isn’t even real?
Think again of a baby or very young child. Do they seem freer and more limitless to you than yourself at this point in time?
Is it really because of time – ‘cuz they’ll potentially outlive you? Or could it be because they haven’t collected enough stories yet – so haven’t yet defined their so-called personality accordingly?
What if your memories were just a dead image, based on your subjective self-perception of events and of what you were until yesterday or even a moment ago – which are also based on even more previous stories…?
So in effect, you’re basing your whole concept of identity and of what you can or can’t do on these imaginary narratives!
ONCE YOU START BUILDING THE IDEA OF WHO YOU ARE, YOU CLOSE OFF OTHER POSSIBILITIES IN THE PROCESS.
“My worst enemy is my memory.”
~ Unknown ~
Who would you be without your memory?
What if you lost your memory in some freak accident, who would you be? Or imagine you were then fed a made-up story about you, a fictional character that embodies everything you’d love to be?
What would be stopping you from being anything different to how you perceive yourself right now?
‘Knowing’ that’s who you were, you would start acting out that character!
What this implies is that
YOU HAVE NO SET-IN-STONE OR LIMITED PERSONALITY AT ALL.
What you do have is a set of habits.
And you continue to embody them ‘cuz you believe that who you are is who you remember you were…and the longer you’ve been identifying with the memory, the more attached you are to it.
You might be stuck in a loop.
WHEN YOU FULLY GET THIS IDEA, IT WILL PROFOUNDLY CHANGE YOUR LIFE – BRINGING IN FREEDOM & CHOICE.
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
~ Albert Einstein ~
So what’s standing in your way of ‘reprogramming’?
1. You feel your limiting stories give you value
You like to take pride in your stories and in the shape you’ve taken on for better or worse.
It’s obvious why you’re proud of and like to identify with stuff that’s been great or that makes you look good. But somehow you also enjoy your misery you’re supposedly unhappy with.
This is because it still makes you feel special and gives you a sense of importance. You might also like to share your tragedies or complaints with others, trying to gain sympathy and approval.
2. Your limiting beliefs and wanting to be ‘right’
You think it’s too late to change – your character is ‘too deeply engrained’…as if you were a pile of dried up play-dough.
You continue thinking “This is just who I am” or “I’ve been like this for 20 years, I’m not gonna change now”.
My favourite statement I’ve heard has been “A mango doesn’t suddenly become a banana”.
Your mind loves being right, so it filters things through these beliefs so that they ‘fit’.
You might be triumphantly affirming your ‘success’ in predicting your failings: “See, I told you I couldn’t do it” / “I was always rubbish at it” / “It’s just not for people like me” / etc.
Or maybe you’ve reached a point where you feel you do want to improve or change. You believe there’s some vague possibility. But you think that because ‘this is who you are’, it will take too much time or hard work.
3. Fear – you’re comfortable with your limitations
Your mind, as a creature of habit, perceives breaking them as a threat to its efficient functioning.
This is ‘cuz it’s an unknown and requires following a new (neurological) path, which interrupts the flow of the familiar short-cuts.
Even if a habit-response isn’t serving you, at least you’re comfy in knowing what to expect. If you couldn’t predict the future this way, you’d lose that sense of safety and control you crave over things.
SO BEING UNCONSCIOUSLY STUCK IN YOUR WAYS GIVES YOU A FALSE SENSE OF EMPOWERMENT.
But the opposite is true – it’s disempowering. It keeps you limited with a perceived lack of choice. You have no real control ‘cuz you’re controlled by habit.
Being open to the idea that you’re personality-free, that you can embody whatever you choose can be pretty overwhelming.
So what can you do?
Think of your ‘personality’ blocks as blowing soap bubbles. One bubble might be small. Another might be HUGE – you’ve been blowing it bigger and bigger throughout your life; adding on another experience and another belief.
But does the size or how long it’s been there really matter? It would still take that same, one little pop – and it’s gone!
You realize that actually, it was just a bubble, with no real substance to it.
I’m not suggesting for a moment that you should, or even could, forget your stories and memories.
They’re what makes life go round and maybe what makes life at all…
What you can do though, is decide to no longer be attached or identify with them.
YOU HAVE TO FIRST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY – THERE’S NO REAL FREEDOM WITHOUT IT.
Recognise your stories as the tales they are. This way you can be free to create new stories more in line with what you want.
Since lots of these limitations are subconscious, you might want to deal with them in that deeper level.
Being more present in the moment, you’ll be able to take what’s useful to you, and let go of what isn’t.
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