As above, so below: the mechanics of self-limitation.

Recently, fitness coach Carolyn Hansen sent me an email that introduced an interactive computer program called “Attractor Genie” [designed by John Petrov], which tracks patterns of thought and behavior in response to rigors of daily life. It seeks to identify sources of self-image in the subconscious that inhibit or block the user’s ability to reinvent themselves through creative visualization backed by positive action. The program’s premise—that how the subconscious sees itself determines what we allow ourselves to be—started an interesting train of thought.

Elsewhere on this blog, I present information and perspectives concerning the link between how humans see themselves and how we treat the earth. According to John Petrov (and the links I’ve provided below), our self-perceptions may also determine how we treat ourselves, each other, and what we allow ourselves to be.

Years ago, my wife insisted I read a book on psychology called “Embracing Our Selves” by Hal and Sidra Stone, which claims humans harbor entrenched personas that block our “disowned” selves from being expressed. For example, seeing myself as a “Failure James” or a “Victim James” might stop me from projecting a “Competent James,” an inability that could lead to more failures and reinforce a self-inhibiting status quo.

Using functional MRIs to map the human brain, researchers at Emory University tracked the responses of intelligent subjects to facts they either accepted or rejected based on ambitions, pre-existing worldviews, or convenience—but ultimately to reinforce how they saw themselves. Rather than process unwanted facts through the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex—the brain’s center for objective thinking—the subjects rationalized factual information that challenged their beliefs in the brain’s limbic (emotional) center to arrive at distorted conclusions that reinforced their dominant bias.

Placing this in context with metaphysics, imagine someone whose dominant persona expresses a martyr complex, i.e:

“I do everything for everyone else, but no one appreciates me!”

If the subject tries to envision himself or herself as being independent or appreciated, the id sees this new self-image as a threat. As fast as the conscious mind imagines its ‘delusions’ of success, the subconscious shunts these positive images that it believes to be false to the limbic center where they’re squelched by a neuropeptide addiction to martyrdom or guilt. Automatically and without the consent of our rational mind, the subconscious preserves its negative self-image along with behavioral patterns to match. Thus the key to remaking ourselves through creative visualization seems to be escaping subconscious ‘rocks’ of self-perception to the clean palette of an open mind.

I appreciate Carolyn for pushing my thoughts in these directions!

~ by jperrykelly on October 17, 2010.

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