How do you define yourself?
“The strongest force in the human personality is the need to stay consistent with how we define ourselves.” – Tony Robbins
Your thoughts control your life. It may sound simple, but it’s also profoundly true. Your quality of thinking will determine the kind of actions that you take. Lucky for you, you can change your thoughts and change your life.
A belief is a specific type of thought that you hold to be true. This doesn’t mean that the belief is true, in fact most of the time beliefs are false, but you act as if it is. There are, of course, many types of beliefs and the ones I want to address in this article are the beliefs you have about yourself: your identity. Let’s approach this through metaphor.
A metaphor is a comparison between two seemingly unrelated ideas, but brought together lead to a higher level expression of a truth. A metaphor is non-literal and you must go beyond sense-perception to understand it. The idea that the way you truly know something is by relying on sense-certainty is false and goes against the principles that govern the human mind. If you rely only on the filter of your present experience and results, you are limiting your future and denying the creative capacities of the human mind.
We all know that humans have a blind-spot in our visual perception that the mind fills in called a scotoma. In fact, every sense-perception has blind spots because, in a continuously changing universe, your senses only reflect a shadow of reality. Here is a hypnosis video, of something that shouldn’t be possible, to illustrate how sense-perception is easily fooled, especially with hypnotic suggestion:
If you want to grow, you’ll need to think qualitatively differently about yourself. Think better thoughts. Don’t be small minded. The simplest and most effective way to adopt a new system of thinking is to take a top-down approach by adopting a new metaphor about yourself. Your identity and the beliefs that go along with it, control what you are able to think or do, before it even reaches your consciousness. So changing the metaphor, top-down, will unblock you and open you up to new possibilities. It’s better than thinking outside the box because in this case, you’re removing the box.
Now, you may not even be aware what beliefs are controlling your thinking, and now is a good time to think about that. For the rest of this article I want to contrast two different metaphors, to really hammer home the point I’ve been making.
Metaphor Unbound: The Promethean Identity of Man
In Aeschylus’s play Prometheus Bound (430 B.C), the titan Prometheus has been chained to a rock for 10,000 years because he has defied the tyrant Zeus by uplifting mankind. A mankind who was kept as a slave in bestial conditions under the tyranny of Zeus. Prometheus means foresight and Prometheus foresaw the fall of Zeus, something Zeus desperately wants to know, yet Prometheus does not reveal. In the play, Prometheus is visited by multiple Gods who want to know Prometheus’s secret. Here is an excerpt:
…; but listen to the tale
Of human sufferings, and how at first
Senseless as beasts I gave men sense,
Of mind. I speak not in contempt of man;
I do but tell of good gifts I conferred.
In the beginning, seeing they saw amiss,
And hearing heard not, but, like phantoms huddled
In dreams, the perplexed story of their days
Confounded; knowing neither timber-work
Nor brick-built dwellings basking in the light,
But dug for themselves holes, wherein like ants,
That hardly may contend against a breath,
They dwelt in burrows of their unsunned caves.
Neither of winter’s cold had they fixed sign,
Nor of the spring when she comes decked with
Nor yet of summer’s heat with the melting fruits
Sure token: but utterly without knowledge
Moiled, until I the rising of the stars
Showed them, and when they set, though much
Moreover, number, the most excellent
Of all inventions, I for them devised,
And gave them writing that retaineth all,
The serviceable mother of the Muse.
I was the first that yoked unmanaged beasts,
To serve as slaves with collar and with pack,
And take upon themselves, to man’s relief,
The heaviest labour of his hands: and
Tamed to the rein and drove in wheeled cars
The horse, of sumptuous pride the ornament.
And those sea-wanderers with the wings of cloth,
The shipman’s wagons, none but I contrived.
These manifold inventions of mankind
I perfected, who, out upon’t, have none-
No, not one shift-to rid me of this shame.
Thy sufferings have been shameful, and thy mind
Strays at a loss: like to a bad physician
Fallen sick, thou’rt out of heart: nor cans’t prescribe
For thine own case the draught to make thee sound.
But hear the sequel and the more admire
What arts, what aids I cleverly evolved.
The chieftest that, if any man feel sick,
There was no help for him, comestible,
Lotion or potion; but for lack of drugs
They dwindled quite away; until I taught them
To compound draughts and mixtures sanative,
Wherewith they now are armed against disease.
I staked the winding path of divination
And was the first distinguisher of dreams,
The true from false; and voices ominous
Of meaning dark interpreted; and tokens
Seen when men take the road; and augury
By flight of all the greater crook-clawed birds
With nice discrimination I defined;
These by their nature fair and favourable,
Those, flattered with fair name. And of each sort
The habits I described; their mutual feuds
And friendships and the assemblages they hold.
And of the plumpness of the inward parts
What colour is acceptable to the Gods,
The well-streaked liver-lobe and gall-bladder.
Also by roasting limbs well wrapped in fat
And the long chine, I led men on the road
Of dark and riddling knowledge; and I purged
The glancing eye of fire, dim before,
And made its meaning plain. These are my works.
Then, things beneath the earth, aids hid from man,
Brass, iron, silver, gold, who dares to say
He was before me in discovering?
None, I wot well, unless he loves to babble.
And in a single word to sum the whole-
All manner of arts men from Prometheus learned.
How does Aeschylus view human beings? Can you see the differences between man and an animal? If you thought of yourself as a Promethean man or woman, how would that influence the rest of your life? Take some time to reflect about these questions, the ancient Greeks certainly did.
The entire play is a short and worthwhile read. You can find it here (http://classics.mit.edu/Aeschylus/prometheus.html).
In contrast, here is a short clip of David Suzuki, a famous Canadian environmentalist comparing human beings to fruit flies and maggots.
Can you see how if you think about yourself as a Promethean instead of a maggot, you are automatically permitting yourself to tap into more of your innate abilities. Besides, if you consider yourself a maggot, you won’t be optimistic enough to change anything. Think about the contrast between the two. Which one do you want to be?
Locking in the change with Hypnosis
How do you apply the power of metaphor to your own life? You could consciously think about the implications of being a Promethean or whatever other metaphor you choose. You could factor it into your every decision until it becomes habitual. That’s an excellent way to go about it.
An even more effective way is to use hypnosis or self hypnosis. Choose the metaphor you want to adopt. Go into a hypnotic trance and then imagine the implications and new possibilities with your new metaphor. Give yourself the hypnotic suggestions that you are, in this case, Promethean. Visualize how your life changes. Feel the emotions that accompany the change.