In this day and age of instantaneous connections and a rapidly changing landscape, the lines of familiar frames of reference blur frequently and comprehensively. And so thoughts turn to our potential for accommodating and changing to meet these challenges. What in fact determines change, the potential for change and the necessity for change?
We are all, each one of us, the products of a nature-nurture heritage in which we had no say, arriving at adulthood as the finished products, warts and all! And it is with these origins that we engage with ourselves and with the extended environment . The heritage determinants together with our ongoing engagement with the extended environment gives rise to our personal life narratives. This narrative incorporates our subjective beliefs, fears, aspirations and preferences, indeed all the components which give rise to a subjective world view.
The subjective world view becomes our ‘map’ of the external ‘territory’ and the way in which we make sense of things. If we have been blessed with a supportive and caring nurture history we will ultimately develop a subjective ‘map’ which approximates the ‘territory’. In this situation we will see things as they really are, make appropriate decisions and experience achievement gratification, purposefulness and wellness. Conversely, if we are the products of a deprivation nurture heritage, our ‘maps’ will diverge from the ‘territory’, we will not see things as they really are due to intrinsic limiting beliefs and suppressed thoughts and emotions. The result is distorted perceptions of the territory, failure, emotions of despair, hopelessness and illness.
Fortunately Nature (alternatively, God, the singularity or whatever else you believe in) has bestowed upon us the intrinsic potential to re-wire our neuronal networks and thus our subjective world view together with the emotions thereto attached. This is the process of neuroplasticity. But the effectiveness of neuroplasticity is dependent upon elements which are intrinsic within our life narratives. These elements include an unfettered sensitivity to ourselves and to the external environment, calling upon our reasoning function (working memory in the pre-frontal cortex) and the courage and determination to engage the process until sustained positive change is achieved. The drivers of this process are either content-based or emotionally determined. Let me illustrate the content-based driver: I left ‘A’ to move to ‘B’ but arrived at ‘C’ , what do I need to change to ensure that the next time I do indeed arrive at ‘B’? The emotionally driven process is activated by an emotional prompt: I experience such negative emotions (often with physiological manifestations) when confronted with identified environmental entities that I need to either ensure that I steer clear of them (create a comfort zone through avoidance) or alternatively, re-appraise my perception of the entity (re-frame, disputation, psychoanalysis) and thereby change the emotional consequence.
To quote an existing ‘truth’, ‘nothing is more constant than change’ (I’m not sure who’s quote this is but I think it was the Buddha himself). And so it becomes imperative that to ensure personal gratification we need to be prepared to change on an ongoing basis. This requires that we transcend our intrinsic limiting beliefs and subjectivity, to sensitively appraise ourselves and our environments before forming opinions, judgements and actions. The drivers for this are content-based and emotionally prompted as well as the need to move away from a space of failure, meaninglessness, low gratification and illness towards one of purposefulness, gratification and wellness. But you need to want it badly enough to make it a reality.
Finally we need to add into the mix the component of value contribution to ourselves – realizing our fullest potential, as well as the value contribution to the greater environment – making it better than it was before engaging with it. In this way we arrive at a far more viable and sustaining place of awareness where we as individuals become more authentic contributors as members of the Human Race.
Copyright reserved – Ian Weinberg 2017