April 11, 2015 — CHRISTINE SIMKO

“Every individual represents a unity of personality and the individual then fashions that unity. The individual is thus both the picture and the artist. Therefore if one can change one’s concept of self, they can change the picture being painted.” — Alfred Adler, physician, psychotherapist and Founder of Adlerian Psychology

I was always the type of child to do things on my own terms. Even if that meant getting out there and exploring alone. I chose freedom- at any cost I was determined to make my own way. Somehow, through embracing that type of wildly-independent nature, coupled with my parents being in their own foggy world throughout my childhood (and what inadvertently morphed into consequential events following their choices), I became a bonafide rebel.

Alfred Adler, an Austrian psychiatrist and philosopher, once said that ‘we develop our desires and drives during our childhood then our whole adulthood becomes affected by these childhood experiences’. In consequence people keep striving during their adulthood to fulfill the desires they have developed during their childhood. Well, the aftermath of my childhood became my coping mechanism. I had one mode of living and that was by the mantra “my way or the highway”. I didn’t see many short term consequences besides ruffling feathers and I was not afraid of people. I became prideful from independence and through that I hardened. I was so stubborn and would not allow help or ask for help. It literally broke my heart to feel like I needed help from another person, it made me feel weak to even think about it.

Well you can imagine how long that lasted living in New York City, a city with a few million people. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t make me into a terrible person or failure by any means, as it’s a great tool for survival in a tough big city by yourself. But my attitude was not good for a lot of urban survival reasons: My ability to learn things I didn’t understand or persevere passed problems I was frustrated with was lessened despite my intelligence, because of my pride. My inability to pick myself up again after falling because of this pride and push past the tough times was my true weakness. Also the negative attribute of shutting people out was the worst for developing discipline as persevering in order to fully bloom and cultivate my budding talents were imperative for long term success… and my attitude was definitely not good for taking in difficulty as “part of the process”. No one wants to look like a fool right?!

Beyond all of the details, it took me years just to force myself to learn how to truly listen to others and trust other opinions. Sounds stupid right? That it would be so hard for someone to listen? But flash forward a few years looking back- I am an example of the how the effects of childhood can constrain the quality of adult life. But I am not bogged down by those constraints any longer because I have also allowed myself to blossom into an example of how to go from where you started to become whomever you want, which holds no bounds. As a person who absolutely hungers for knowledge, has a vivacious appetite for living happily and for living to help others do so, I have transformed through becoming this growth-minded individual. It does not matter where you come from or what you’ve been through- you can be what you choose. In my previous post I went over how we live 40% or more of our lives on autopilot. We are creatures of habit… You can change those habits immediately simply by wanting to and doing so. You can have happiness right now by through purely taking in that fresh growth mindset.

See the diagram below for the outcomes of Fixed vs. Growth Mindset:

Alfred Adler coined a term know as “Fictional Finalism”. He said that people live by many fictional ideals that have no relation to reality, therefore cannot be tested and confirmed as facts. Fictional Finalism proposes that people act as much from accepted ideals as they do from observed reality. Whatever your mind accepts as truth, it acts as if it is true whether it is or not. Your unconscious mind does not have the benefit of the conscious mind’s ability to observe independenty and check with real experience.

Even moreso, from the point of the view of the person in society, any accepted false ideal or fiction can be taken as the basis for their orientation in the world, and as one aspect of compensation for any feelings of inferiority.

When it comes to feeling good about oneself and having a sense of purpose, some people have chosen to pick the road of proving themselves. Whether it’s proving themselves at school, or at work in their careers and with appeasing their boss, or even with their loved ones and trying to make up for lost time, shame or guilt. This mentality of feeling the need to always prove yourself comes with an unconscious mindset we develop over time that shuts down the learning process and prevents healthy, natural brain growth. When every situation calls for a confirmation of intelligence, character or personality every single situation is evaluated from the mindset of — Will I succeed or will I fail if I do this? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected by my friends and loved ones? Will I be labeled as a winner or a loser by my coworkers? It becomes an all-consuming goal and everything else falls by the wayside including learning- the absorbtion and processing of healthy, valid factual information that leads to true happiness.

When it comes down to it, it’s simple- Why waste all of your energy hiding these deficiencies and weaknesses instead of embracing that we are all imperfect and overcoming weakness to actually be that better person you claim? Why look for friends or partners who will just put you on a pedestal of bs making you feel inadvertently even worse about your settling for a comfortable alright life and falsely build your self-esteem instead of filling your life with people who will also challenge you to grow along with loving you and showing it properly by being there for you in your never ending process of growth? Isn’t that what you would want to do for someone you love? Help them be there best? Why do we as humans seek out the true-blue instead of new satisfying experiences that will push us to be better, even though it’s uncomfortable to break out of that zombie-like state of living initially? Just as you made those unfulfilling behaviors and feelings habits, you too can make being happy and pushing yourself a habit in no time!

“The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s€™s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.” — Carol Dweck, Stanford University Psychologist and “Growth Mindset” Researcher

As Carol Dweck, a world-renowned Stanford University psychologist, who attended both Yale and Columbia simply put: “Why waste time proving over and over again how great you are when you could be getting better?”

Chew on that for a while. Orrrr you can choose to be a lean, mean learning machine. Right Frickin’. Now. ;)

Read more on my blog at http://allcolor.nyc

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