When I wrote, back in January, about my New Hope, I had little idea that it might prompt a blogging hiatus. But I find myself in the midst of a confusion of thoughts about just how my own perspective, assumptions and beliefs have changed, and continue to change, over time.
I’ve have been thinking about it though, more or less often, since that post. And not wanting to remain silent on the subject, and not wanting to have something fully-formed before sharing it, I’ve chosen to write this post as some kind of peg on which to hang some random musings. Maybe sharing something this tentative might encourage others to join a dialogue of mutual exploration – in a way that sharing of full-formed ideas may tend to dissuade.
Learning vs Changing
One theme upon which I’ve been reflecting has been the nature of learning vs changing oneself. When we learn things, the thing(s) we learn tend to change our actions, our behaviours. But although I love learning, and many things I have learned over the years have cause me to change my behaviour, I have difficulty in seeing this as a change in who I am – in my essential perspective, assumptions and beliefs. In my identity.
The latter kind of change, what we might call transformative change, seems much less common, at least in my own life’s experience. (Neuroscientists have a term, self-directed neuroplasticity, which may have some bearing on this).
I see a range of qualitatively different things open to change:
- New information, adopted and then influencing our decisions.
- New strategies for living (e.g. for getting our needs met).
- The way our brains are wired (I’m guessing the training of Kahneman’s System 1 is of interest, here).
- Behavioural “dysfunctions” (e.g. OCD, phobias, etc.).
- Aspects of our “personality” (example, from avaricious to generous, or from jackal to giraffe).
- “Who we are” – e.g. our own self-image, a.k.a. identity.
I guess these various things overlap, to some extent. And I wonder if there’s any mileage to be had in making distinctions between them?
So, there we have it. That’s where my musings have taken me, so far. I don’t know where it’s going, how long it might take, or the sights we may see along the way, but would you be interested in joining me in this journey of discovery?