The conceptual framework for a man's search for meaning

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Between choice and circumstance

March 27th, 2016 by dimpledbrain

Scenario – 2 people of similar background but one rises to the occasion while the other falls into despair. What would you attribute the cause to? Choice? Circumstantial/ contextual influence (i.e one person is being ‘lucky’ being at the right place, right time?). What is your belief of the scenario of what actually happened?

For the longest time, this question has eluded me. I have leaned more on the contextual argument because of fundamental attribution error inherent in us and the works of our subconscious mind which we don’t have ‘direct’ control over.

But this reasoning doesn’t go well with the pro choice group as arguably, it would just mean defeatism and wriggling off the hook for responsibility.

On the other hand, if pro choice is right why would people with similar background behave differently? What is that needle mover then? I don’t believe anyone consciously wants to make a bad choice. (This is statistically significant given the number of people that one can observe.)

So on and so forth. The argument just goes circular.

Enter self image. (Which I think offers the best explanation to this dilemma).

Self image is the perception in the mind’s eye, to quote my earlier lingo on objective reality. Viewed differently, it is like looking at ourselves in the mirror. We can never see our own face, only the reflection/ image of it. If what we truly look like is the objective reality then the image we see in the mirror is the self image or our perception of ourselves in the mind’s eye.

Self image is the belief about self made up of our past experiences, successes, failures, humiliations, triumphs and others’ reactions to us, especially those childhood experiences.

Our action, behaviour and feeling then will always be consistent with this self image.

The good news is we can change our self image, which doesn’t mean changing our true selves but merely changing our perception and approximation of who we think we are. We always underestimate who we truly are. There will always be a gap between our actual self and our perceived self and shrinking the 2 lines is well within our control.

It will be another post on how we can change our self image (to better reflect who we truly are). The other question is probably can we change ourselves to someone we are not? Short answer is no and if we attempt to do that we will invite a host of negative feelings which will then snap us back to somewhere below the line of our true self.

The sad news however is that our self image is formed mostly in our early childhood days which can be due to (a) authoritative figures (e.g. parents, guardians) (b) intensity (of particular incident e.g deaths) or (c) repetition. Strictly speaking, all these factors will be attributable to contextual influences as we can’t possibly choose our parents or events that happened to us especially when we are young and incapable of defending ourselves.

The flip side to this is that since these 3 factors form our self image for any negative and unwanted behaviours, we can also use them to create positive and wanted behaviours in us. The term ‘fake it till you get it’ (repetition) is right to a certain extent, but readers of dimpledbrain.com will note that there are 2 other factors that we can employ to our advantage too.

So yes, a person can make a choice to be a better person but such attempt must start with understanding one’s self image which is for lack of a better word, created through a roll of the dice.

All said, it’s definitely not as simple as making the right choice but it can be done through first understanding one’s self image. That I am convinced is the needle mover and the make or break factor for this dilemma.

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