Jul. 7th, 2006

morgannalefey: (Default)
I wrote this a while ago for another forum and thought I'd put it up here just because I was revisiting the thoughts in it.

Someone at the other forum had said: I might be able to change, but then I wouldn't be me any more.

Which prompted the following:

I've been pondering it since last night. It calls for an examination of the concept of who we "really" are.

In the end, change is inevitable. Even people who seem rooted in who they are, and who seem never to change, have actually changed over time. They are not the same person they were when they were 10, 18, or 21. And not just physically. Those stop maturing emotionally at a young age, still have changes afterwards. Unless there is something pathologically wrong with us, it is impossible for us to avoid changes in our emotions and thought processes that are related to our environments.

I should note here that I'm not talking about any sort of extreme pathology that might prevent such natural occurances (like comas, or extreme mental disturbances). I'm talking about a typical human life full of all its challenges and rewards.

It then follows that "Me" changes. "Me" is a continuum, not a snapshot. "Me" is not, and cannot be, static. It's not any one state that we are, or any one set of beliefs that remains the same over time. The "Me" that fails to change over time dies off fairly quickly because it cannot adapt to the continuous change that surrounds us.

This is so much a part of who we are that we don't even really examine closely. Sometimes we look at little bits of ourselves that we've clung to over time, parts that seem immutable. But they aren't the whole of who we are, they don't define us completely.

Like, for me it's my control freakness. As much as I would like to change that part of me, and as many problems as it causes me, I have the idea in my head that I will always be a control freak. But what if I was wrong? What if it was something I could, eventually, change about myself? Does that change "Me"? Would I no longer be Siobhan simply because I'd overcome a self destructive personality trait?

I don't buy it. I'd be a new and improved Siobhan, but still Siobhan. That's because Siobhan-ness isn't tied to a particular state of being. Siobhan-ness is a journey, and journeys are change. I've certainly changed a lot over the years. I've learned a lot. I've matured. I am very different from what I was at 7, 18, and 27. I've worked on personality traits that have been detrimental, and succeeded in overcoming them.

Trying to hold onto what we were in the past is not only impossible, it's self-defeating. Trying to be who you were at 18 or 28 means avoiding who you are today. Trying to hold onto traits that are self destructive because you want to avoid changing the essential "Me" is a massive rationalization for avoiding the work necessary to change. It's an attractive idea and it sounds slick on the surface, but beneath the surface it's really just an argument you'd expect from a child who doesn't want to grow up.

It is rational to want to improve one's situation and to increase one's chances at, if not happiness, then at least contentment. It is typical that we don't always know how to do that. It is common that people, rather than making a concerted effort at self examination to identify the behaviours that defeat them, flail about trying different versions of the same behaviours that got them into trouble/unhappiness last time.

Of course, that all being said, I have a tendancy to believe that there are individual traits we all have that are just too deeply wired into our brains for us to have the time, energy, and tools to truly change. We do have to pick our "battles" and decide if the end product is going to be worth all the pain, effort, and electroshock it takes to effect real change in certain behaviour patterns.

Which leads into the idea of acceptance and that is a long post for another time. :)


morgannalefey: (Default)

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