Self-Improvement – Like Peeling an Onion

Self-improvement is more like peeling off layers of limitation than piling on layers of skill.

In my last blog, I talked about how the world tries to define us and how we ultimately let it do its subtle work on us. The result is that we become someone we aren’t, yet we take possession of this person as if it is really us.

The “world” in this case is our family, our friends, the media, researchers and statisticians, the prognosticators, advertisers, politicians, and more. All of these entities has a reason to define us one way or another. If it’s not for profit, it’s for personal gain, greed, self-justification, influence, and so on. Would you ever willingly believe what someone with these intentions is trying to tell you about who you really are?

The answer is obviously “no,” yet you are most likely doing the exact thing you most want to avoid. How can this be? Because the tools of the trade for these entities are really quite convincing – subtlety and time.

Think “hypnosis” or “mesmerism” when considering their subtle nature. Much has been written about the unconscious influence of advertising. One book years ago nailed it with its title, “Subliminal Seduction.” This “under-the-radar” form of influence taps into your mind’s tendencies to associate certain objects and colors with moods and feelings that are intended to drive your actions. You develop a hunger or thirst or desire for a particular product that is being advertised. This process was so powerful and well documented that federal agencies were compelled to limit its practice in advertising. But it’s fundamental principles are still being practiced.

Time is also an agent of change. You may not be affected the first suggestion some party makes about you – e.g., “you are too young to take on this challenge,” “women aren’t made to do this kind of work,” “you don’t have the right credentials to succeed in this business.” You may not be impressed the second or third time you hear it. But after many years and thousands of times, are you so sure it hasn’t changed you?

When people say “you are the product of your environment,” could not this be part of the reason? Over time, and with great subtlety, our consciousness has been molded to the point where it makes us believe that we are someone we are not.

Do you see how this works? Knowing how it works is the first step in taking control of your life. Forewarned is forearmed, the saying goes. It is the process of forearming that we will cover in my next blog.

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