Do you ever notice, when you do something a little differently, maybe a new approach, or a new attitude or behaviour, a part of you says “Hey. Why are you being fake?” As if you’re being a traitor to your own “pure” nature? A
This happens to me all the time. I remember when I first started going to the gym, some voice in my head kept saying “Oi. Why are you at the gym? You’re not a gym person. Nobody likes a fake.” A
It’s a strange phenomenon. It’s almost like somewhere along the way (for me, I think it was adolescence) you decide what the real “you” is – this unfettered, undiluted, pure version of “you” – and then, when you do anything to challenge it, a part of you gets indignant and tries to talk you out of it. A
It’s funny because we hate the idea of being “fake” or trying to be something false or inauthentic.
You’re constantly told “Be Yourself”, but why?
When it’s restricting you from being who you’d prefer to be? What if parts of who I “really” am are kinda shitty? Maybe I’ve always been a bit judgy, and impatient, and a sulk? DoI accept that’s how I am? Because that’s how I’ve always been, and therefore how I’ll always be. Or can I say, “hey, I’m gonna start trying to be less of a stroppy, whingy bitch?” A
The old, primal centre of our brain isn’t a big fan of change. This was because back when we were cave dwellers, change could mean getting eaten by wolves or dying from eating poisonous clams. For some us, this caveman brain is over-active. It wants you to be the same way you always have been because it’s is safe, comfortable and predictable – even if it hasn’t served you in your life thus far particularly well. This is why when you try to shake things up and think/behave a little differently, it goes “HEY. WHAT THIS? PLS DON’T.” A
If you want to change who you are to make yourself happier, healthier or get you closer to your goals, don’t stress over being “fake” or betraying the person you think you rly are. We can adopt and develop new habits, behaviours and thought patterns all throughout our life. Parts of our brains can make change difficult but not impossible.
Your identity is not a prison, it’s a playground.
Try new things, be curious, have fun, and be what makes you happy.
Every where I look, I see people getting married and having babies. It seems peculiar because I never recalled seeing them in such overwhelming quantities before, but all of a sudden there they are, at my local café, on my Facebook feed, at the bookshop, cropping up in chats, texts and emails from friends and family. This evidence before my very eyes seems to run in direct contrast to the statistical reality that fewer and fewer people are getting married and choosing to have children, but whatever. I’m seeing it. Therefore it’s there. Ω We help make sense of the world by looking around us. With everything we take in with our senses, we piece together, bit by bit, how things are, what they mean, and why they are that way. Often we place such emphasis on this sensory information that we fail to acknowledge the individual, psychological filters this information passes through in order to reach our smart, little brain boxes. The reality of this situation is that there isn’t an irregularly massive number of people getting married and having babies, rather I’ve been thinking more about marriage and babies (due to societal pressure, a close friend’s upcoming wedding, seeing a photo of Megan Fox’s unusually attractive offspring, etc) and therefore, all evidence of marriage and babies has become disproportionally emphasised by nothing more than my mind’s inclination to see it. There are plenty of people I know, see, FB stalk, who aren’t getting married and producing small people, but these guys don’t work with my current theory that “EVERYONE IS GETTING MARRIED AND HAVING BABIES”, so I disregard them, and instead focus on those who make me feel like I’m RIGHT. Ω “Cognitive scientists have studied our natural tendency to look only for corroboration; they call this vulnerability to the corroboration error the confirmation bias”. And we humans are complete suckers for it. We see what we want to see, when we want to see it, and are reluctant to change our minds about it. Changing our minds about beliefs we hold to be true takes a lot more effort and consideration than continuing to reinforce any pre-existing beliefs. We’re keen to understand new things with as little energy expended as possible. In which case, we give things explanations and/or narratives to help store new information in an accessible location of our mental Kennards, and explanations that further reinforce existing beliefs are the easiest and most convenient method of storage! Only, when we’re a long way off being right, it takes a helluva lot for us to see the other side (imagine how sensible it seemed to once believe the earth was flat!) Ω Anais Nin said “We don’t see things are they are, we see them as we are” and you should try and remember that when you’re feeling chubby and ugly and every person you (choose to) see looks like Kate Moss, or when you’re feeling like a professional failure and everyone you (selectively) hear about is getting record deals and Harvard scholarships. If you’re anything like me, your mind is your personal saboteur, fashioning the world around you to make your mistakes and shortcomings even more graphic and pitiful. But remember, even though it often feels like you’re just taking the world in as a cool and impartial observer, we forget about those filters that shape and distort, emphasise and neglect, and churn out weddings and babies on every Insta post and street corner.
(Quote taken from Nicolas Nassim Taleb’s Black Swan. Image via Pinterest)
Often we’d consider mind reading a skill reserved for only the most skilled psychics and psycho therapists, so it’s pretty funny how so many of us bestow this rare talent upon the laypeople around us. Ω To be honest, we read people’s minds all the time, or at least we try (and think we are better at it than we actually are). But our own minds are complex, fuzzy, little universes, with heaps going on (particularly just as we’re trying to go to sleep or meditate – amirite?). Our own minds are tough enough to work out as it is, so it seems foolish for us to assume that anyone else can guess with any accuracy what the hell is going on in there. Ω I used to make mind reading a pre-requisite of all my relationships. If I was angry, hurt or upset, I would not say anything because I thought that my friends, if they were TRUE friends, would pick up on my inner discord, run to my side and comfort and console me. Needless to say, this happened rarely and my friends carried on like nothing was wrong while I remained bitter and miserable like a trodden-on olive. Ω This lack of perception on my friends part (and over assumption on mine) is not surprising. According to a study done, when people are asked to lie or conceal strong emotions “we tend to think the truth will be detected by others significantly more often that it actually is.” (Good news for people smuggling caps into Stereosonic!) “Our intuitive sense that our emotions leak out and are clearly visible to others seems to be more of an egocentric illusion than objective reality.” Ω The problem is that we assume body language and reading people’s facial expressions are the key to deciphering emotion, but studies show that talking and using your grown up words is the most effective and accurate. Basically actions speak louder than words, but words speak louder than nothing (duh). With our friends, family and partners, we often have expectations of them to “just know” what we want, how we feel, what to get us for our birthdays (sorry Joely, ily). And while people we are closer with do “know” us better, they’re not necessarily any more adept at being able to decipher our wants, needs and desires to any particular level of accuracy. Ω This is the problem in relationships when we start the silent treatment, game playing and concealing emotions and feelings. When you say “nothing’s wrong” when a friend or partner asks “what’s wrong?” and there IS something wrong, you’re pretty much training them that those accurate, non-verbal signals they’re picking up are incorrect, leaving them only to deduce that when those signals are employed again in the future, they wont indicate that something is wrong. Ω Of course there’s often our reluctance to put forth our feelings or emotions out of fear of rejection, embarrassment or ridicule. Men are more prone to this (thanks society) but I’ve definitely avoided expressing myself, figuring that my feels were “probably just a bit silly and not worth talking about”. That doesn’t stop me from acting like a stroppy bitch for a whole afternoon, leaving my boyfriend to repeatedly ask if I’m “okay?” when I’m sure he’d probably prefer I just came clean with my ‘silly feels’ rather than pretending everything was hunky dory. Ω “Opening up a bit more often, when your own perspective matters and when that perspective is warranted, benefits those who give their perspective as well as those who are willing to use it” says Nicholas Epsley in his cool, psychology book ‘Mindwise’. “Knowing others minds requires asking and listening, not just reading and guessing.” Ω So ditch the divination, make like Madge and Express Yourself – clearly and honestly to those you love, not just rudely and violently to Trump voters on the internet. If talking about your feelings still feels icky and uncomfortable, get creative and find an outlet to let dem feels out – cronut baking, interpretive mud dancing, penis art, etc. All creativity, used as a mode of communication, is somewhat therapeutic in nature as it allows us a platform to communicate our feelings and perspectives and helps connect us to others.