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james carson

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to what extent does our self-interpretation create behavioural boundaries?

Self-interpretation and behaviour share an intimate relationship. Amy's video illuminates the impacts that our body language has on the way we feel, and consequently the way we interpret who we are. She also reveals the impacts our self-concept can have on our behavioural decisions, with the example of her belief that she was not capable enough for Princeton creating an urge to not pursue her course

This made me think, does our memory, the accumulative account of our PREVIOUS actions create a belief system that defines behavioural boundaries?
I mean in the long term, if we repeatedly behave in a particular way, such as being shy, submissive does this increase the rigidity in which we characterise our "self" with these attributes?

If we do attribute our "self" these traits, could this self-interpretation be internalised into the unconscious or memory, subsequently having an influence over spontaneous behaviour. I say "spontaneous" behaviour to describe the more habitual actions we feel are natural to us, so the actions that are influenced by our immediate reactive thoughts/emotions when interacting with others and the environment.

It is my personal belief that, so many people are limited by these "behavioural boundaries" that don't really exist! They are just a consequence of the way we identify the amalgamated thoughts, emotions, memories and experiences that are the foundation of our self-concept. I also belief that emotions and thoughts are ephemeral, and that we are constantly adding to our bank of experience so our "self" is continuously changing, which is why there is no benefit to a rigid identity. If people could understand the impermanence of "self" could we be more capable of transcending our behavioural boundaries by becoming more aware of the nature the "self", using the flexibility in action to diversify our self qualities in the most uninhibited way.

I don't study psychology so sorry for any insufficiencies, id appreciate any relative thoughts

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    Oct 6 2012: "... does our memory, the accumulative account of our PREVIOUS actions create a belief system that defines behavioural boundaries?" Of course it does. Repeated behavior is self-reinforcing and after years, we have the imprint on our minds that "thats who I am." It CAN be changed just as you say, but the most important step is to start and that is where most people fail. They don't start and they say, 'that's not me', 'I can't', 'I haven't', 'its too hard' and never make the most important step because the self image has been 'proven' through past failures. Just like you say, behavior is ephemeral or rather as I like to call it, plastic, so it can be shaped or reinforced. I do think that there are basic personality types that we all fall into and that range can be expanded or contracted, so in example quiet or calm people may expand and be participatory, loud or dominating when needed, but will always have a 'quietness' around them. It can be shaped so that the 'quiet' does not hold them back or excludes them from social interaction but still is a basic.
  • Oct 6 2012: Certainly we are the sum-total of our thoughts. If we dwell too much on a thought it does lead to a certain way of behaving; and when we start behaving in that particular manner, what started as a thought would now become a memory.
    Usually, memories define our behavioural boundaries; because experiences affects our perception. From experiences we could learn, or become hurt, or become confident, or become depressed or fearful or hopeless..etc.
    We are constantly changing; but the foundation of our thoughts have been laid in the early years.
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      Oct 8 2012: Yeah, I totally agree with the idea we are constantly changing, impermanence is indisputable. I actually think that it is liberating to view yourself in this way, it aids you in permitting change and development rather than adhering to a rigidly formulated self-concept.
      However, I enjoy this feeling due to the belief I can guide the changes in my decided direction, whereas some endure early experiences that create a foundation with a framework which is largely more inhibitive to flexible change than others. Like children that develop empathetic issues due to not being brought up in a safe, caring and love-consumed environment.
  • Oct 6 2012: The way people see themselves IS a big part on who we are and who we become. But the truth is that we will never stop changing, it may be the reason why so many marriages fail, because they aren't the person they were in the beginning. The relationships that work are the ones where the couple still changes, only they change TOGETHER. People who say "they know who they are" are actually conforming to who they are at the moment. Which i think is okay if you are happy with that person. But if your not, you have the capability to become who you want.
  • Oct 6 2012: Interesting question! As Amy says in her talk, your one brave, powerful behaviour can change the way you perceive yourself. So, unlike the way your memories, environment, and people around you have contributed to shape your own identity, which you’ve personally interpreted and used to define yourself in a confined way, through this unconsciously genuine way of creating another ‘different yourself’, you can be at least free from the old yourself that you thought to be "the real you".
    Unfortunately, most of us were destined to live by certain ways of thinking and behaviours. That's why so many grown-ups envy(kind of) children--their tendency is to be unpredictable and creative. Children don’t have rigid self-interpretation that creates behavioural boundaries as long as their parents and teachers let them think differently and act freely (to some extent). Children have numerous possibilities that enable them to have various ways of interpreting themselves creatively. This fact often lets adults down since it seems they already lost their precious opportunities to be like them. But we’ve also seen lots of amazing people who eventually changed the rigid way of interpreting themselves and became whole different people that they never expected to be. We still have hope. Social pressure and how we react to it have huge impact on creating our own identities. Once I realize there are much more things I can discover from different(others’) perspectives, that kind of uncertainty helps me a lot to get rid of this rigid, behavioural boundary. Dramatic change is open to anyone, I believe.
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    Oct 6 2012: Daniel Kahneman, either in his TED talk or his Nobel address, talks of how we confuse what you might be calling "self-interpretation" with introspective certainty. We know ourselves worse than we think we do and thus could easily misjudge both our motivations and potential, misinterpreting the reasons for our perceived failures or our perceived successes.

    As George writes below, all the practices that use psychology to manipulate people (George mentions advertising, salesmanship, NLP, and others) acknowledge your assumption that our behaviors can be manipulated through our self image.
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      Oct 8 2012: I don't think he mentions introspective uncertainty in his memory vs experience talk, ill have to you-tube his Nobel address.

      I completely agree, I don't think that we know ourselves as well as we would like to believe, especially on a psychological level. Yeah I try to use the idea self interpretation loosely, rather than it being an accurate observation of yourself, its kind of a net term that describes how information within our awareness is identified as a characteristic of the personality/identity/self. So like, for example you could have an individual that experiences anxiety during public speech, when the emotion is consciously experienced it is identified as an inherent component of the self, translating what is simply an emotional experience into self-identification.

      I think what Kahneman describes as distorting the significance of memories, illuminates how self-identification could possibly obscure our understanding of the information we experience and remember.I think it's near enough impossible for self-observation to be objective in the sense of having an absolute lucidity in which we can view ourselves. I mean neutrality is so hard to ascertain, emotional equanimity always has an upper hand in observation next to a polarised observer, but its only complementary to lucidity. Our world-view is a deep obstacle, we interpret information within our personal consensus so its so difficult to actually know oneself in an unbiased way. It leads me to question a quote I really love, I feel it expresses the openness, flexibility and adaptability that is necessary for an honest learning process.
      " A man should always look for what is, and never what he thinks should be" Einstein.
      But is this even possible? The foundation of a hypothesis is expectation, estimating what should be!

      Anyway I waffled terribly, I just enjoy having an outlet for thoughts, it is something hard to come by in my day-to-day life as a bored 18 year old. lol
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        Oct 8 2012: I don't know if there is a YouTube of the address, but I know I have read it online.

        I interpret the Einstein quote to mean that we should try not to let our biases interfere with our judgment and that we should try not to filter out data that challenges our favorite points of view.

        Einstein was a strong believer in our intuition in the fields in which we have the expertise to make such intuiion basically sound. Kahneman would underline the last part of that sentence to emphasize that intuition and bias are closely connected and that the more entrenched we are for whatever reason in our points of view, the less reliable our intuition is to yield valid insights.
  • Oct 6 2012: This is certainly supported by general semantics, NLP, and hypnosis. Read about milton Ericson's work. I am not saying this is trivial. IN fact, it is just not what we do to limit things. There are substantial limits attributed to other's influence on us in politics, work, military training, ads, and sales. Michael Hall has written a great deal about setting frames recently. Okay, maybe Robert Anto Wilson goes a bit far in his SCiFi, but he knew experts in these fields and he had special training.