Are we really two (or more!?) personalities woven into one person?
I confess, it’s a funny thing- the personality of the unconscious mind correlates to a person’s behavior and the person’s conscious mind correlate to a person’s behavior…but the conscious mind and unconscious mind of that person don’t correlate to each other!
People typically look to make sense of themselves and the world around them. Because we all do and say things that truly surprise us, we must construct (fabricate) a narrative (story) that makes sense of those behavior that conflict with our intentions. The rationales and explanations help us put the incongruency behind us and move on to other things.
What makes understanding our selves and others even more difficult is the painfully distorted memories we all carry in the three pound universe. The brain simply isn’t a video tape recorder that records events. The brain is a vast array of storehouses and interpreting functions that constantly store, re-store, interpret and reinterpret our memories and beliefs. False memories are so common that almost every conversation of any length includes reference to at least one memory that never happened.
Recognizing these two defective elements of the human experience (our suspect memory and the dual nature of our personality(s), one can understand the arguments, the fights, arguments and butting of heads that take place in relationships and communication in general between people who have lived through the same events and remembered and interpreted them so differently.
There appear to be five specific parts of the unconscious mind that establish the rules for our behavior
- how people construct themselves and others
- expectations about themselves and the social world
- goals and values
- competencies and self regulatory plans
What’s interesting is that people do not have access to these elements of our unconscious experience, therefore we may be poor at “knowing who our unconscious mind is…and how it will cause us to behave in a given situation.”
Recent research does show that there is some predictability in how we will respond to other people. If for example a person is fond of their sister, they will tend to be fond of people who exhibit similar behaviors as their sister.
So, how do you actually come to know your “self?” Pay attention to your behavior in any given situation and you learn “who you are.” And of course, even that is suspect because we don’t see ourselves anywhere as clearly as we see others. Research reveals that we are better judges of others future behavior than we are our own. We tend to see ourselves in a much better light than we see others and that light creates a halo effect that most of us believe about ourselves. We tend to see others more accurately.
Real estate agents observe the lack of sense of self knowledge in others every day. They listen while their clients describe the exact house they want and then show them several houses which their clients love and one which they eventually buy that has little in common with what the individual detailed just hours or days before!
And when we do see ourselves behave in some fashion, we often have no idea why we did what we did. A research project had women approach men on a somewhat dangerous footbridge and start a conversation. The same women later approached men seated on a bench away from the footbridge. 65% of the men who were approached on the footbridge asked for a date. 30% of those on the bench asked for a date. Arousal was attributed incorrectly to the woman on the bridge instead of the actual anxiety provoking feelings that the person felt on the bridge.
Unfortunately we don’t have the ability to access the reasons we do these kinds of things and observation only helps to some degree. Our need to find a reason for behavior, any reason, helps us make sense of our world and make us happy, even if it isn’t accurate.
And, what about those faced with difficult decisions in life? Beginning or ending a relationship? Buying a business or not?
The research is compelling. After initially analyzing the problem once, the individual stands a far better opportunity of having made a good determination than the other individual who ponders for days, weeks, or months. This is true even when people write out their reasons for their decisions on paper or on computer. In comparison studies, individuals seem to make better decisions when gathering enough information, thinking about it then deciding vs. writing all the reasons for and against an idea. (Ben Franklin is rolling over in his grave…and I’m sure I will too!)
So, with this rather bleak picture of how poorly we make decisions and how poorly we know each other, what is the answer?!
It appears that going out into the future, and speculating on what events and experiences might take place is the best option for creating the changes necessary when conflicted. To be sure, we can’t accurately predict how we will feel in the future. This has been shown in volumes of studies. However, we can gain foresight by specifically seeing ourselves in future situations and determine what course(s) of action will ensure the success of those determined course(s).
For years it was thought that journaling was a grand way to determine insight and learn about ourselves. And this is true as long as we do not journal after particularly negative or traumatic experiences which will later taint the story of our life into being something it was/is not. Instead, it’s best to journal on a consistent basis and describe events and experiences with the realization that negative emotions happen daily in everyone and that in itself is not necessarily a bad thing as long as action is taken on those states to improve the quality of life each and every day. Numerous studies have shown that people who think about the negative emotions that have been recorded actually end up far worse than had they not reviewed the emotions of the past. Such is the nature of writing history then re-writing it without the benefit of all the other experiences that occured that day/week/month/year. Result: These people tend to predict a more negative future for themselves than those who do not ruminate.
Timothy Wilson, Ph.D., says it this way: “Unhappiness and ruminating about your unhappiness is a bad combination that leads to more depression.”
In the final analysis, the road to changing the self is about creating behavioral change first which will almost always lead to attitudinal change and thus change feelings from sadness and depression to feelings of contentment and perhaps even happiness.
Specific strategies for such changes will be outlined in several CD’s in the Science of Influence and related programs that will come out before Christmas. Watch for them!
“The Power of persuasion transforms from art to science.” Kevin Hogan, Psy.D.
Science of Influence, Part 1 with Kevin Hogan, Psy.D.
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The ability to influence, the psychology of persuasion, the science and practice of persuading others to your way of thinking is the single most important factor in success; in business, management, in a professional practice, in maintaining intimate relationships and obviously, in selling. Every useful communication involves persuasion. You want to become an expert in social influence. You DO want to win friends and influence people. You want your message to be accepted and acted upon. Period. Without effective persuasion techniques and finely honed influential skills can any of this be possible.
The Science of Influence is the Master’s home study course. What makes the Science of Influence different from every other program about persuasion is that this material is fresh, potent, tested, and has nearly all of what you will discover is new!