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Monday, January 28, 2008

Cognitive Reconstruction

The practices of self evaluating, internal change, and personal growth have been riddles mankind has tried to champion throughout history. Gaining the power to rewrite our destiny and become the person we envision ourselves to be is no simple feat. However, it is a possibility, although we often forfeit this possibility through compromises founded on our belief that we are not good enough to be great.

Dr. Albert Bandura's work on this matter has earned him the title of "The Father of cognitive behavior". In 1994 His work on self-efficacy was published. This work has left us with the terrifying realization that success can cause more fear within us than failure. Change is not easily done, especially from within. Dr. Bandura's discoveries leave us with some huge questions that challenge the very convictions we live and die for. One of those questions is " why do we believe in what we believe?"

If our foundational beliefs are compared to a concrete foundation of a house, dictating what kind of structure is built on it, who designed, or engineered, our belief foundation? Charles Cooley established in his 1902 work called "Human Nature and Social Order" that our belief foundation, our self concept, is designed or engineered by the authority figures around us when we are between the ages of 0 - 5 years old. As babies, we absorber all feed back from those caring for us and translate it all into who we are supposed to become. We guess what all the feedback means and form who we are, as babies. Although I believe this does happen, I am forced to realize that there is a huge area for error in my early perceptions. "Why do I believe in what I believe?" This realization that, as an adult, I can chose to reject many of my childhood beliefs that have limited my potential has been extremely liberating for me. I have the ability to re-construct who and what I am. I can rewrite any believe I chose to. Think about that for a moment.

I do realize some of my beliefs are gender based and some of my abilities are genetically based. I'm good with that. What I struggle with are those beliefs that cause fear to rise up in me during certain situations. Those beliefs that seemed so tied to emotional disequilibrium that they limit my potential. It is these believes that I have chosen to put "under construction" and re define, redevelop, and recreate into who I truly want to be. Change what I can, accept what I can't. So where do I start in the cognitive renovation project? For me, the simplest model to apply to my project has been the Franklin reality model.

We all have the same basic needs. For whatever reason, we were made that way. Abraham Maslow proposed the "Hierarchy of Needs" in 1943. Franklin Quest simplified these needs into four basic categories, "To Live, To love and Be Loved, To Experience Variety, To feel Important". There is no changing these needs, we all have them. But things get wild when we start taking a look at our belief window. We form our beliefs based on the idea that these beliefs will some how help us meet one or more of our needs. I do not like mean people because they make me feel unimportant and unloved. The behavior that this belief manifests is the physical avoidance of anyone I think is mean. How do I define mean people? Well, that gets into another line of beliefs. Once we realize how our needs drive us, and how we vicariously form beliefs, and how those beliefs manifest into behaviors, we can begin to reconstruct some of our beliefs to get the behavior results we want.

Redefining our beliefs however involves another challenging area of ourselves; our emotions. If we have formed or beliefs from our education and experiences (memories) then recalling them in an effort to rewrite those beliefs means we will have to face the emotions associated with those memories. This has been the hard part for me. Some events were difficult to deal with at the time they occurred, I struggle with revisiting them. I compare these moments to smashing one's fingers with a hammer when building a house. Why would I do that intentionally? Well, because I want change, ant that is just going to be apart of my growth process. So far, for me, the more I redefine, the less finger smashing I do.
I am constantly reassuring myself that I am a good person who can become great. The more I hear myself say this, the less the negative history echos in my brain. I can achieve and I will achieve. I have gone back into my past and demolished the areas I intend to remodel. I am becoming the person I want to be. More to come.......


yertle said...

Check out wisebrain.org. I heard Rick Hansen speak last night and was very interested in the idea of restructuring your brain with your thoughts.

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