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mon_fi

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Hello,

It's me, mon_fi.

I promised I'd make a threat summarizing the book "Personality isn't permanent" by Dr. Benjamin Hardy. This book may be one of the best self-development books I have ever read and I am very excited about it. Furthermore, I think it could help a lot of people on the forum that are stuck in bad habits, scared, can't make decisions, or procrastinate.

If you enjoy the posts you're about to read, by all means, buy the book. I feel a bit guilty for summarizing and creating a threat based on...the work of someone else. However, I really think that what you are about to read is a game changer.

So if you feel you're getting into it, please think about the author, Dr. Hardy. It will only be small price to pay for the enormous difference it will make in your life.

I found the book randomly on Amazon. It had 5 stars, which surprised me because I had never heard of it. I directly bought it and began reading. 10 minutes into it, it was clear why people were so excited about it.

I have read many excellent personal development books. You may almost call me a junkie. However, each of them only partially solved the self-development equation.

Ray Dalio will tell you to pursue meaningful goals and relationships. Eckart Tolle will tell you to forget about your past and focus on the present. Don Ruiz will tell you to reframe your past. Tony Robbins and Susan Jeffers will tell you to "just do it". Gary Vee will tell you to work hard. Many others will give you other excellent advice.

However, none of them, to my impression at least, ever managed to build a complete solution to breaking bad habits, achieving your goals, and transcending the person you currently are to become who you want to be.

Jordan Peterson may have touched on the topic a bit, but he is still incredibly rooted in the past. When you look at his writing program, it contains two sections about the past, and only one about the future (I do recommend the writing program nonetheless, and you'll find out why soon enough).

Anyway, I am not here to criticize but to bring solutions. This forum has done so much for me I felt I had to deliver something as well.

When I finished summarizing "Personality Isn't Permanent", I had about 18 000 words. So instead of stupidly uploading the document here, I have decided to steal the structure of Lex's "Make Money Copywriting in 15 Days Or Less". I think it will be more interesting, especially since the book is action-based.

Let me explain: at the end of each chapter, the author is asking you to answer questions about your past, about your present, but most importantly, about yourself.

So, similarly to Lex's threat, you'll have the chance to "take action" and meditate on your own life by answering questions related to the theory you'll have just learnt at the end of most of the post.

The book itself is not long, but it is so dense in content that I believe this method will yield better results for transformation. Resolving traumas and coming with a clear picture of who you are is a process. So let's organize this thread as such.

We will start today. For the next 20 days or so, I'll upload one piece of the summary on a daily basis. Some days will be heavier than others. I just hope you will answer the questions and do the work, because I really think this book can be profoundly transformative. At least, it has been for me. There is therefore no reason it can't be for you too.

Side note: don't answer the questions in the threat. There are very intimate questions. You should instead answer them in writing in your journal, or talk about them with a close friend or relative.

If you're sick to be limited by your traumas, if you're willing to rewrite your own story, if you're ready to finally face difficult life events and process them so that they stop preventing you from achieving your goals, and finally, if you have a burning desire to become the person you have always wanted to be, then this tread is for you.

If not, then it's not.

The next following posts will feature a summary of each part of the book. Since we are on the fastlane forum, I have added some "side notes" and have taken some elements of MJ's path as an entrepeneur to illustrate the theory outlined in the book. Since we all know these examples, I thought they would be handy. I hope you don't mind, MJ.

Most of what you are about to read comes from the book, but I have also added some material from "fastlane thinking".

Ok, enough talk.

Let's dive in.
 

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mon_fi

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Personality isn’t permanent: a summary


The mainstream perception of personality tests is that they teach you to “get to know yourself” and to discover “who you are”. Through them, it is implied that who you are is something you need to “discover” because it is “fixed inside you”.

Once you know “who you are”, you can then build your life around “your personality”. As such, there are things you “can do”, things you “can’t” because of what “life gave you”.

This type of thinking assumes that your personality is something you get when you are born. It assumes it is something you carry around your entire life.

Now, take a deep breath and flush all of these ideas out of your mind because nothing could be further from the truth.

The reason why personality is seen as fixed is because psychologists almost only deal with the past. And the reason why they do that is because they have been trained to think that the future is caused by the past. Not influenced. Caused.

And that’s a problem.

Being “caused” by the past means you have no choice or possibility in the matter of who you are and what you can do. Instead, you’re forced to accept whatever personality you have “received”. Who you are right now started with a domino toppling another domino until now. Since you can’t change the past, all you can do is discover and better understand who you really are and why.

All of this is incorrect.

If there is one thing we know, it is that you can choose two things in life: making decisions about what you want to happen and choosing how you respond to what does happen.

The two most crucial factors influencing your ability to make choices are your social and cultural environments, as well as your emotional development as a person. The more emotionally evolved you become, the less defined you’ll be by your past and the less constrained you’ll be by your circumstances.

Instead of being fixed, “anchored” into your past, you will be flexible. Instead of avoiding or burying emotions, you’ll embrace them and be transformed through them. You’ll go after the life you truly want—regardless of how “impossible” or difficult it may currently seem to you or those around you.

You’ll deal with whatever emotions, lessons, or struggles come along the way. Through your learning and experience, you’ll transform. Your circumstances will change.

The reason why most people feel better about being told what to do and who to be is because choosing who you want to be is not only hard, but also risky. If you fail, it may hurt. This creativity to create yourself can also take you to weird and surprising places, and people don’t like weird and surprises. They want predictability, and stability. Ever heard of a 9-5?

On the other way around, when you decide what you want to do, who you want to be, and actively work at it, engage, amazing things start to happen, so amazing you start asking yourself “is this really happening?”

You’re moving forward, fulfilling a vision, focusing on the person you want to be. You think about the future and the good things that are about to come. You’re not limited either by your future or the person you were because you have left them in the past. What moves you is your vision, your project, that thing you’re building.

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No one was born with a personality. Whatever personality you had, you developed it, you built it. Extraordinary people weren’t born with their abilities – they learned them, developed them, and worked on them to become who they became. They had to transform themselves into the person they wanted to be.

Most people see them as extraordinary, but the truth is that they are just random people. The difference between you and them is that they had a goal, a great goal in fact – a purpose worth pursuing.

Your goal is the reason you develop new attributes and skills, and have curated transformational experiences.

Without a meaningful goal, attempting change lacks meaning. It then requires unsustainable willpower, and ultimately leads to failure. Human beings are motivated by the reason why they do things. You need a “why”. You need a vision.

When you have a why and train yourself and practice what you want to achieve, you fail at first. Then you become better. Then you succeed.

Personality is no different. To put it simply, it’s like learning piano. Whatever you ever wanted to achieve is achievable. Just gotta work hard for it and focus.

It is not more complicated.

The past is not prologue

The only thing “special” about those who transform themselves and their lives is their view of their future. They refuse to be defined by the past. They see something different and more meaningful. As such, they never stop fueling that vision.

With each step forward, their confidence increases and their identity becomes more flexible and less constrained by whatever happened in the past, or by who they were before.

You can be the narrator of your life’s story. You don’t have to be defined by your past. It doesn’t matter what your past identity or outcomes were. It’s all “in the past” now. It’s done.

While most people base their identity on their past, most successful people base their identity on their future. Elon Musk can build a spaceship company because he wants to go to Mars. Every day, he wakes up thinking about going to Mars, and what to do so he can do it.

His actions, identity, and purpose are oriented towards the future, and as such, he builds something. He doesn’t think about the times he got bullied at school. He doesn’t talk about the PayPal days. That is completely irrelevant. Future is all that matters.

This is how successful people live: They become who they want to be by orienting their life toward their purpose, not as a repeat of the past.

Deciding and creating a bigger future isn’t wishful thinking. Before building your future, you must face uncomfortable truths you’ve been avoiding, and take ownership over your life. What currently prevents your dreams from becoming reality is buried trauma keeping you trapped in your past, shutting down your confidence and imagination.

Most of the time, we think about trauma in the context of war or extreme events. However, more often than not, “trauma” is planted in minor incidents and conversations that limit your view of who you are and what you can do, creating a fixed mindset.

This can’t be ignored. To be fixed, it must be addressed.

So the idea of the book is the following: first, you'll have to resolve the traumas that are preventing you from moving forward. This will enable you to see your past under a different light. Your past will be lighter and will no longer be an obstacle preventing you from building your future. You will then be able to think about the goals you want to achieve and the person you need to become to achieve these goals. Finally, you'll choose one goal that will enable you to achieve all your other goals and you'll start taking action to chase it. Action will transform your personality and make you who you need to be to achieve your goal.

Ready?

Chapter 1: the myth of personality

Vanessa O’Brien was a finance executive solely focused on her career. All that mattered to her was work, the stock market, and the upcoming promotion she was going to get. She wouldn’t talk to you if you weren’t in finance or driven to make it in the corporate world.

After the crisis of 2008, she started having some doubts about banks. She started traveling and found out about social and climate issues. She decided to do something about it. Fast forward to today, Vanessa is a complete different person. Good bye Louboutin shoes and finance meetings, she is now a very social person, profoundly involved in different charitable projects, holding multiple climbing worldwide records, and traveling the world to give conferences.

If you had talked to Vanessa prior to 2008, she wouldn’t have answered you. Now, she will give you her undivided attention, whoever you are.

Vanessa is not who she is because of her past. She is who she is because of her new goal: doing good around her, being a force of change into the world.

What happened to Vanessa was that she completely changed her goal. This new purpose transformed her and her life.

Peter Diamandis calls this a Massively Transformative Purpose. When your purpose is so big, you fully immerse yourself into it and become the person you need to become to achieve it.

This story outlines how personality is not fixed, making personality tests completely useless and redundant. Your personality test merely takes a picture of your feelings and moods at instant T. Should you take the test in another context, you’ll score differently.

Thinking you are “who you are” is wishful thinking. You are the product of what you have been building, what society has told you to be and how other people have shaped you. All of “you” is constantly evolving as you go through the day. It is evolving as you live through new experiences.

The way to influence who you are depends on you. You can choose to let yourself be influenced by external agents (environment, culture, family, friends, TV, advertisement). Or you could decide who you want to be by setting goals and develop the attitude needed to achieve them, like Vanessa did.

Which one will you choose?

-----------------------------------------------

Tomorrow, we will debunk some myths together.

1. Personality can be categorized into “types.”

2. Personality is innate and fixed.

3. Personality comes from your past.

4. Personality must be discovered.

5. Personality is your true and “authentic” self.


See you tomorrow
 

mon_fi

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Personality isn’t permanent: a summary

Day 2


Myth 1: Personality can be categorized into “types.”

There is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert. Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum.- Carl Jung

Depending on the personality test you choose, you will find out there are 4, 10, 16, or 69 different types of personality. Which one is the good answer?

None of them.

Personality types are social or mental constructions, not actual realities. The notion that there is such a thing as a "measurable personality" is a surface-level, discriminative, dehumanizing, and horribly inaccurate way of looking at the complexity of what is a human being.

The Myers-Briggs personality test, as such, is an insult to science. Neither Myers nor Briggs, which are mother and daughter, had any type of training prior to building the test. They built the test at home, based on their experience, proposing the idea that if you reacted in such a way, it wasn’t based on the fact that you had acquired this trait, but that it had always been there “inside of you”.

So much for science.

When you believe in these personality tests, they damage your future by imprisoning you into a label.

“Henry is an introvert, so he will never be good at public speaking”.

This type of thinking is false and dangerous, as Henry may now incorporate the fact that because he is an "introvert", it means he will never be good at public speaking. It then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

While labels (writer) can serve goals (becoming a writer), goals (writer) can never serve labels (becoming a writer).

The idea that you have to achieve something to become that thing may forever prevent you from achieving it. So instead of calling yourself a wantrapreneur, you may wanna call yourself an entrepreneur now, and take action.

Your personality should arise out of the efforts you make to achieve your goals.
Not the other way around.

Your goals shouldn’t come from your personality. Paul Graham in fact said that “The more labels you have for yourself, the dumber they make you.”

Labels such as “introvert” are limiting your possibilities of being and doing. If you go to a conference and really want to ask a question during Q&A, you may now not do it because you are an “introvert”, and introverts don’t ask questions in public.

“If something is presented as an accepted truth, alternative ways of thinking do not even come up for consideration. . . .”.

Abandon all labels that are preventing you from becoming who you are. "Lazy, dumb, loser"…abandon that sh*t now.

It’s only limiting you.

You are nothing, and can become anything.

Here’s one way to illustrate this fact.

Researchers found a strong correlation between social roles and personality types. If the social role demanded for one person to exhibit one of the five personality traits (remember OCEAN for Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism), they would usually develop that trait.

Yes, you read that right. Personalities are not given jobs. Rather, the job forms the personality.

It was the fact that these people needed to develop that trait (whatever it may have been) to assure their social role that made them harbor it, not the other way around.

Should we put these people that developed these traits into different social contexts, their personality would change depending on the new traits they would need to harbor.

Careful though!

It is not “society” that is deciding who you are. This is NOT a course on postmodernism. What we mean here is that you become who you need to become in function of the situation into which you are.

People that do not become who they want are in situations /achieve goals that do not correspond to who they would like to be.

If they were to change the situation of the goal so that it would force them to develop their desired traits, then it would actually work.

For example, a 2015 study by Drs. Nathan Hudson and Chris Fraley showed that personality can be intentionally changed through goal-setting and sustained personal effort.

Intentional change, however, is emotionally rigorous—it doesn’t exactly feel good and can even be shockingly painful. If you’re unwilling to put yourself through emotional experiences, shift your perspective, and make purposeful changes to your behavior and environment, then don’t expect huge changes (at least in the short run).

Becoming psychologically flexible is key to personal transformation, not overattaching to your current identity or perspectives.

Becoming insatiably committed to a future purpose and embracing emotions rather than avoiding them is how radical change occurs.

Once again, like pretty much anything else in life, the more efforts you invest into developing your new personality, the quicker it will develop.

Questions:

So, where are you?

In what ways have you defined yourself or others by what was done in the past?

Have you limited and overly defined yourself by categorizing or typifying yourself?

What would happen if you stopped boxing yourself into a category and opened yourself to the possibility of change?

Tomorrow, we will look at the second myth of personality: Personality is innate and fixed.

See ya tomorrow!
 

Black_Dragon43

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This is a great thread (worth GOLD over time), but IMO, you need a better title if you want to attract more eyes. What's the benefit of reframing your traumas, rewriting your past, desinging your future, and breaking free from bad habits?
 

mon_fi

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You sure are working hard at this. Is it helping you to clarify your thinking?

I never studied the material at school. I would rewrite it with my own words and study that. I did the same with the book, it helps me integrate the knowledge.

Also writing enables me to go deeper in my thinking. But that's just mental masturbation lol and for my own pleasure.

This is a great thread (worth GOLD over time), but IMO, you need a better title if you want to attract more eyes. What's the benefit of reframing your traumas, rewriting your past, desinging your future, and breaking free from bad habits?


Yeah...you're right.

I thought about "free yourself from your past and become who you want to become" but idk, it sounded so cheap and fake. Every title i thought of sounded cheap and fake. To be honest even the title of the book is lame: personality isn't permanent. Lol. So what? I read the book cuz it had 5 stars. Certainly not because of the title.

So I focused on the mechanism of the book for the title. I mean, who doesn't want to reframe their traumas and free themselves from their past?

But I suppose not everyone actually want to face that type of sh*t either, and so the title becomes "scary".

Maybe i could have gone a bit more clickbaity with "This is why you get stuck". Or "how to unstuck yourself and reach peak potential forever".


Yeah. That's not bad. Or "unlock mental and personal growth".

"The roadmap to your best self".

"Atomize your self-limitinh belief". Meh, too much like Tony Robbins.

I don't know, if you got any ideas hahaha don't hesitate to propose.

The truth is that i am gonna be posting in this thread for the next 18 days, so i figured people would eventually click on it thinking "but why the hell does this thread which sounds lame keeps on being revived".

Of course it'd be cool if more people participated, but I also do it for myself so it's not like I was looking for an audience.


To answer your question, I guess the benefit of reframing trauma etc is to manage to build the life you want to live. Right now your past is probably preventing you from doing so, and by solving it, you free yourself from your fears and self-limiting beliefs, and go pursue what you desire most.

Edit: "transcend your current self and become who you want to be" may be suitable.
 
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mon_fi

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Personality isn’t permanent: a summary

Day 3

Myth #2: Personality Is Innate and Fixed

In a recently published longitudinal study spanning more than sixty years, researchers tested the personality of the same group of people (on the OCEAN scale). When they discovered the results, they were shocked. People kept on rating differently years after years. Their character wasn't constant at all!

This outlines how people keep on evolving because the situation in which they live evolves as well. People adapt to the situation, and therefore, change.

Even after going through extreme change, we adapt and the new situation becomes our new norm rather quickly (side note: this is why the “I will get a big house and then I will be happy” does not work. You get the big house, it becomes your reality, you adapt to it and come back to the default level of happiness. Happiness is a consequence of pursuing meaningful goals, not an end-state to be pursued. Happiness is a consequence, not an end in itself.)

This is why we may feel like the same person as we age, but in reality, we gradually change and don't realize it. Life feels “normal” and keeps on feeling normal as we adapt to the new situation. When we compare the now to the past, we don't notice any differences about ourselves, while we are in fact, widely different.

This is one of the reasons why people get divorced. They change, their partner changes, and the compatibility they had when they got married evolved and died.

This is also why people remove tattoos. Whatever personality they had when they made their tattoo is gone. And now, they also want it gone.

Quick question: How much time do you spend imagining your future self?

For most people, the answer is “not much”. What we have learned so far described two major obstacles that prevent people from predicting and creating their future personality:

  • We assume our present personality is a finished product (the end-of-history illusion).
  • We overemphasize the importance of the past, which leads us to become increasingly narrow in how we view ourselves and the world.
Your personality changes. It has changed and it will continue changing in the future. As a result, it’s time to think about who you want to be in the future. It's time to actively decide who your future self is. You don’t want to be surprised, disappointed, or frustrated by where you’re at and who you become.

You don’t want to let randomness decide.

It’s time you take your own personality into your own hands.

That being said, it’s best to make decisions based on what your future, not your present, self wants. It’s best to decide and act from the vantage point of your desired circumstances, not your present ones.

This is the power of choices.

You can choose what your present self wants now, or you can choose taking into account your future self in order to speed up your becoming of him/her.

Eg: watching Netflix VS going to sleep.

While the former option may have the preferences of your present self, your future self has more interest in you going to sleep so that you can wake up earlier/get a full night of sleep/don't lose time and become more likely to work and achieve your goals.

So, it's time to forget about your present self and start building your future self.

It is time to choose what your future self wants, not your present self. Your present self probably wants to get drunk, which is something your future self will be angry about tomorrow, hangovered.

Side note, this is why the Dutch people succeed. They literally live in the future. If you live in the Netherlands, you find out these people spend their lives planning what they are going to do in the future. In my university, exam dates were planned two years ahead lol. They're always efficient and organized. They’re always prepared. And they succeed.

Who you want to be in the future is more important than who you are now. In fact, who you want to be in the future should inform who you are now. Your intended future self should direct your current identity and personality far more than your former self does in an attempt to realize that vision you have of your future self.

It’s like a walk. If you intend to walk from Brussels to Beijing, what would your focus be?

What orientates each and every one of your steps? What are you thinking about? What are you making efforts to reach?

Brussels, or Beijing?

Beijing, obviously.

This is the same for your personality. You should consider the present through a lens coming from the future. The aim of the present should be to build your future. Because that's the only way the present is headed.

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Life starts taking on a whole new meaning when you begin thinking right now what your future self will want. Rather than making decisions based on your current identity, you could begin making decisions your future self would love and appreciate. It’s your responsibility to set your future self up for as much opportunity, success, and joy as possible. This is how you become the person and create the life you want, rather than becoming someone with regret.

Failure is always better than regret and missed chances.

Always.

Questions:

Who is your future self?

How often do you imagine and consciously design your future identity?

What would happen if you based your identity on who you want to be, rather than who you’ve been?


Tomorrow, we will talk about myth number 3: Personality comes from your past.

See you tomorrow!

M.
 

Devampre

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Awesome thread so far mon-fi!

I will be watching this and answering the questions for myself. Looking forward to what is to come. :)
 

Madame Peccato

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So far I've read up to Chapter 1.

My takeaways:

- Personality is liquid and not set in stone (yeah it's the title of the book, lol.)
- We create barriers through labels, and follow them to a T to stay consistent within ourselves. Call it sticking to the comfort zone, or call it excuses, the principle is the same.
- Personality isn't something that just exists, it's something you create. It's not a finished product.
- It takes work to change your personality, and it will not be pleasurable. You can shape yourself however you want if you are willing to go through the process.
 

mon_fi

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Personality isn’t permanent: a summary

DAY 4

Myth #3: Personality Comes from Your Past

A common scientific principle of many theories is “causal determinism”. It is the idea that whatever happens now is directly caused by a past event or condition. From this view, people are determined—not influenced—by prior events, like one domino in a toppling chain.

Where does this insane idea come from?

In looking at human behavior, psychologists have come to agree that the best way to predict future behavior is by looking at past behavior. And in fact, that phenomenon is validated over and over again. It seems people are quite predictable over time.

But why?

4 reasons:

  • They continue to be defined by past traumas that haven’t been reframed or dealt with.
  • They have an identity narrative based on their past, not their future.
  • Their subconscious keeps them consistent with their former self and emotions.
  • They have an environment supporting their present rather than future identity (you know the ones we mean here, these “friends” and family members shaming you for attempting to do something different).
These are the four levers that drive personality.

And guess what? You can control them.

When you change, reframe, or manage these levers, your personality and life can change in intentional and remarkable ways.

It’s up to you whether you allow these four levers to hold you hostage—keeping you stuck and making change feel nearly impossible—or whether you use them to become the person you want to become.

These levers, once dealt with, look like this:

  • You reframe and deal with past traumas that stop defining you
  • You base your identity on who you are becoming, not who you were
  • You take care of subconscious by acting out who you will be (we'll speak about this more in the later chapters)
  • You change your environment

Here’s a story explaining why your past does not determine your present.

Ever heard of Tucker Max? That guy published a book with his life-stories of decadent parties and outrageous lifestyle (think Dan Bilzerian, but poor). The book sold millions. He released another one, and then he made a movie.

Predictably, the movie bombed. That crushed Tucker’s ego. He went to therapy for three years, then released a statement saying he no longer identified with the person in the books.

As such, when he reads himself, he only feels empathy for that guy that wrote the words. He is not embarrassed one bit, or ashamed by who he was because who he was is another person than he is now.

He does not let his former self define his present self.

This shows how when you begin to actively and intentionally move forward in your life, not only does your future get better but your past does as well.

Your past increasingly becomes something happening for you, not to you.

Side note: I think Tucker Max is the one who coined one of the most brilliant citations that explains in a few words the current psychologico-politico-social situation in the West: “you don’t hate capitalism. You hate your dad”.

Our values and beliefs don't stem out of profound meditation on what would be best for society, but out of our own problems and traumas.

Conclusion: send everyone to a therapist and end political division.

End of the side note.

As you truly learn and have new experiences, you begin to see and interpret your past in new ways.

If your view of your own past hasn’t changed much over recent months or years, then you haven’t learned from your past experiences and you’re not actively learning now.

An unchanging past is a sign of emotional detachment and rigidity—an avoidance of facing the truth and moving forward in your life.

The more mature you become as a person, the more differently you’ll view your past experiences. Your past can change, and it must change if you hope to brighten your future. Luckily, and as we are about to see, the past evolves as you evolve.

A peculiar discipline outlining this claim is the history of history. If you study history from a historical perspective, you see it changes. We still don’t know for example, who really started WWI. As for WWII, some US-centric people consider it started in 1941 when US got involved (could it really be considered “worldwide” without the US?) while others estimate it started in 1937, when Japan attacked China.

This outlines how instead of the past shaping the present, the present shapes the past.

It is the present study of history that enables us to change it, to reframe it, in order to have a more “correct” version of it.

You can do the same thing with your own past. Hell, you must do it.

The present is so complex that even that, we are not sure of. The way you remember your past is only one way, and certainly not the objective version of the events that happened. When you allow yourself to fully relive your past and process the emotions that were then unprocessed, you change it, you let it go, free yourself, and can then move forward.

Here's another example of how the present shapes the past.

Imagine getting a 10% raise on your slowlane job! Nice! Maybe the slowlane isn’t so bad after all?! :p You decide to celebrate and eat lunch with your colleague Mary. Mary is excited! She also got a raise of…15%. Suddenly, that 10% you were happy about does not seem so good in retrospect!!!

Oh well, back to the Fastlane then…

The moral of the story is that the present context changed the past event.

Consider the following quote:

“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”

Context is everything.

Our past, like any experience or event, is a subjective perspective, which we ourselves ascribe meaning to—whether positive or negative, good or bad. Without question, experiences from our past can and do impact us. However, it isn’t actually our past that is impacting us. It is the interpretation and emotional attachment to that past.

Trauma can and does happen to all of us, both in large and small degrees. When our trauma is unresolved, we stop moving forward in our lives. We become emotionally rigid and shut off, and thus stop learning, evolving, and changing. As such, our past becomes rigid as well, and our memory persists in an unchanging and painful way. By continually avoiding our past traumas and the emotions they create, our life becomes an unhealthy and repetitive pattern.

We get stuck.

A clear indicator that someone has unresolved trauma is that his life and personality are repetitive for an extended period. But as he faces, opens up, becomes more aware of, and ultimately reframes his trauma, he allows himself to take a positive and mature view of his past. His present and future will then stop reflecting his past. He can free himself from his trauma.

How we describe, interpret, and identify with our past has far more to do with where we are, here and now, than it has to do with our actual past. If you’re still angry with your parents for your childhood, this shows more to who you currently are than what actually happened in your childhood. When you keep on blaming someone or something from the past, that makes you a victim, and that reflects more on you now than whoever or whatever it is you’re blaming.

“Changing your past” doesn’t mean you discount the emotional charge of these experiences! They can actually be an important pool of insights and lessons. It isn’t the contents of your past that need changing, but your view of it.

As Marcel Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” It’s not about seeing a million things, but being able to see the same things a million different ways. And hopefully in better and less destructive ways.

In order to actively create new experiences and be transformed by them, you’ll need to become more psychologically flexible. Psychological flexibility is the skill of being fluid and adaptive, holding your emotions loosely, and moving toward chosen goals or values. You need psychological flexibility to reframe your past and imagine a future self.

The more flexible you become, the less you’ll be overwhelmed or stopped by emotions. Instead, you’ll embrace and learn from them.

Becoming psychologically flexible is part of becoming more emotionally evolved as a human being. Emotional development is at the core of understanding personality. The less emotionally developed and flexible a person is, the more they will avoid hard experiences. The more they’ll be limited and defined by painful experiences from their past.

This is counterintuitive, as many people come to believe the best way to deal with hard experiences is by burying their emotions and fighting a silent battle, alone.

This is not the way. Consider this quote from Emile Zola.

“If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through, it will blow up everything in its way.”

Trust me, I have been there.

I buried emotions and when they exploded, it blew up everything in its way.

Emotions should not be buried. They are the doorway to growth and learning.

The reason people’s personalities plateau and get stuck in repetitive cycles is because they are avoiding the difficult and challenging emotions involved in learning and in connecting with themselves and others. As a result, they remain weighted down by their limited perceptions of their past far longer than necessary.

Questions:

So, what stories are you telling about your past self?

Who was your former self?

In what ways are you different from your former self?

How has your past changed due to more recent experiences?

How would your life be different if your past was something happening for you rather than to you?

How could life change if you embraced the truth that your former and current selves are two fundamentally different people?

How would your life be if you never again blamed or limited yourself and your future based on the past?

Tomorrow, we will debunk myth number 4: "Personality must be discovered."

See you tomorrow!
 

socaldude

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Pretty good stuff so far. Will follow. Psychology is one of those fields where there has been very few breakthroughs and innovations. Not a whole lot has changed in how we approach the human psyche. Very mysterious and complex.
 

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mon_fi

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Pretty good stuff so far. Will follow. Psychology is one of those fields where there has been very few breakthroughs and innovations. Not a whole lot has changed in how we approach the human psyche. Very mysterious and complex.
Psychology is this field where you gonna have 10 theories and all are applicable to a certain extent but no one really knows or understands how nor why.

I have read a lot of these books. But this one is different. It is the first one that I feel takes the whole equation of "self-help" into account. It's not surprising. The author has a PhD in psychology + read about 200 books around the same topic prior to writing this one. I guess he really managed to put each piece together and write this complete "map".

Exciting stuff!
 

socaldude

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Psychology is this field where you gonna have 10 theories and all are applicable to a certain extent but no one really knows or understands how nor why
I guess it’s one of those things where the proof is in the pudding.
 

mon_fi

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Personality isn’t permanent: a summary

DAY 5

Myth # 4: Personality Must Be Discovered

In order to illustrate his claim, the author gives the example of his friend Kary.

Kary complains she "doesn’t know who she is", but she takes zero action to find out. She bites into the myth that you just “are” and need to “fInD yOuRsElF”. So she sits there, tries out stuff, then quits directly if it is too uncomfortable or too hard.

She believes that “passion” is like love at first sight. She thinks buying the skis is enough for her to find out her passion is skiing. She thinks it will be felt right away. She thinks passion is inherent to who she is. She thinks passion is an event.

However, we all know this isn’t true. Passion is not an event.

It is a process that comes from enjoying hard work, or enjoying something after it's been hard to enjoy it.

And so is building yourself.

Both passion and motivation are effects, not causes. As Dr. Jerome Bruner, a Harvard psychologist, said “you are more likely to act yourself into feeling than feel yourself into action.”

The good feelings you get out of doing that which you are passionate about are a consequence, not a cause. When you receive a salary from your slowlane job, you get paid after working for a month, not before. The salary is a payout the same way passion and motivation are a payout of doing something initially difficult.

As such, the author describes wanting passion before putting in the work as, and I quote, “get-rich-quick thinking and completely lazy.”

Lmao.

Passion is the prize and as such, you have to invest first.

Personality is no different. It is not something you discover but rather something you create through your actions and behaviors.

Personality is a by-product of your decisions in life. Gandhi, Mother Theresa, or Lincoln did not do what they did because of who they were. They became who they became because of what they did. Because of their purposes!

Purpose trumps personality.

Without a deep sense of purpose, your personality will be based on avoiding pain and pursuing pleasure, which is an animalistic and low-level mode of operating.

Have you ever seen people waiting in line to get junk food, or camping in the cold to get an iPhone? That’s them. Their purpose is non-existant besides “fEeLiNg HaPpY” and getting their dopamine hit. The goals determine the behavior. And since their goal is conspicuous consumption, they wait in line to consume conspicuously.

That’s the power of purpose. It gives motivates every single one of your actions.

When you’re driven by a higher purpose, you’re highly flexible and you make decisions irrespective of pain and pleasure to create and become what you want.

Moreover, if you are serious about your purpose, it will change your personality. Your purpose isn’t something you discover, but something you ultimately choose for yourself. Stop looking for it and make the choice, then let the choice transform you.

Rather than your decisions and goals being the by-product of your personality, your personality should become the by-product of your decisions and goals. As you proactively and intentionally make positive decisions, develop skills, and seek out new experiences, your personality will develop and change in meaningful ways.

It will adapt to the level of your goals and decisions, rather than your decisions and goals falling to the level of your current personality.

-----------------------------------------------------------------​

Trying to discover your personality leads to inaction, avoidance of hard conversations, distracting yourself through consumption, and making excuses for how you’re currently living. It puts you in the passenger seat of your own life.

Instead, you can, and should, be the driver. You can be the creator.

According to Cal Newport, the idea of finding your passion is based on self-absorption. People want to find work they are passionate about because they’ve been taught to believe that work is all about and for them.

However, the most successful people in the world know that work is about helping and creating value for other people.

As Newport states, “If you want to love what you do, abandon the passion mindset (‘what can the world offer me?’) and instead adopt the craftsman mindset (‘what can I offer the world?’).”

The author takes the same approach for marriage and relationships. While there needs to be a connection at the beginning, a successful marriage is not something life owes you – it is something you build!

Marry for aligned purpose, not personality, because personality will change over time. Purpose, however, will transform you, your partner, and the relationship.

Questions:

So, what purpose are you creating for yourself?

What would happen if you stopped trying to find yourself, and instead became more creative and collaborative?

How would your personality develop and change if you went to work on it, chiseling and shaping it in desired ways?

Who would you be if you could creatively design yourself? (Hint, hint: You can.)

Tomorrow, we will speak about the last myth surrounding personality: pErSoNaLiTy iS yOuR tRuE aNd aUtHeNtiC sElF.

See you tomorrow!
 

Cyberthal

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Lots of psychology is built on statistical patterns in self-reported characteristics such as personality traits, because getting objective personality data is difficult. Unfortunately, comparing the subjective self-evaluation of person A with that of person B, without controlling for the objective differences between them, is apples to oranges.

Sounds useless.
 

mon_fi

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DAY 6

Myth # 5: Personality Is Your True and “Authentic” Self

Another problem with the “fixed view” of personality is that people feel entitled to do only the things that feel natural or easy to them. The things “they were born for”.

If something is hard, difficult, or awkward, then people say, “I shouldn’t have to do this.”

People believe they have an “authentic” self which is who they should remain true to.

This self is seen as innate, the “real” them. This leads people to say things like “I need to be true to myself. I shouldn’t have to deny myself of how I’m feeling. I shouldn’t have to lie to myself. I should be able to do what feels right to me.”

Unfortunately, this reveals a fixed mindset and is often a reaction to a trauma or a lack of healthy connection to parents.

“Authenticity” these days is simply another way of saying “I have a fixed mindset. I am a certain way and shouldn’t be expected to do anything but what comes immediately naturally and easy for me.”

That prevents people from becoming good at something they are not, and getting out of their comfort zone.

Questions:

Who do you really want to become?

What would happen if you stopped trying to be “authentic,” and instead faced the truth of why you’re limiting yourself?

What would happen if you had hard conversations with the important people in your life?

What would happen if you were “true” to your future self, not your current fears?

Conclusion of chapter 1:

Your personality is not fixed nor inherent. It is malleable and flexible, and it is something you can shape yourself.

When you understand the four levers that move it, you become the director of who you are. You can transform yourself and achieve your goals. You can become flexible.

Your past and your future can increasingly become a story that you shape and define, instead of being shaped and defined by external factors.

This concludes chapter 1. Tomorrow, we will start with chapter 2: The truth regarding personality.

See you tomorrow!
 

mon_fi

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DAY 7

Chapter 2: the truth about personality

The author starts by telling the story of Andre Norman. Andre grew up poor in a violent neighborhood where “getting out” was difficult. As a kid though, one teacher believed in Andre, and she got him to start playing the trumpet.

That sent Andre to the right path. But then, Andre’s goal started drifting because while he wanted to play the trumpet, he also wanted to hang out with the cool kids. At some point, he had to make a choice. He chose the cool kids.

Shortly later, he ended up in prison.

His goal then was to advance in the gang ranks and to become the king of the prison. That basically meant killing people from the other gang. So Andre started trying to assassinate people in prison.

He advanced through the ranks, and one day, as he was about to make his final act to become the king, he questioned what was after…and paused.

What was after becoming the king in the prison? Not much.

Andre’s actions had been motivated by his ultimate goal, and now that he saw the goal was not really…meaningful, he doubted his own actions.

That got Andre thinking. He decided to change goals and got a new one: getting out of prison, then getting into Harvard.

Long story short, he did get out of prison, and into Harvard, and now, he is an acclaimed speaker that teaches people how to reframe their goals to increase their life quality.

Once Andre committed to a goal, nothing stopped him. As a result, he fulfilled it.

Questions:

What is at the end of your yellow brick road?

Where is your life going right now?

What wall is your ladder facing, and where will you be when you get to the “top”?

Your Goals Shape Your Identity

Whether you like it or not, everything you do has is goal-driven. These goals are what shape your personality.

All human behavior is fundamentally driven by, and is a function of, its end, purpose, or goal. It becomes a problem when those goals are not actively chosen or defined. Binge-watching YouTube to distract yourself for a few minutes has a purpose, even if it’s just to distract yourself.

Paying the bills, hanging out with friends, setting the alarm for the next morning, everything you do is goal-driven. Even the most benign, unproductive behavior such as procrastinating and distracting yourself has a goal, often the one of numbing yourself and forgetting about life for a while.

How do you know whether you are on the right path to achieve your goal? You study yourself. More specifically, you study your actions.

Seeing every action you take as goal-driven allows you to take stock in the quality of your decision-making.

Questions:

Why are you engaging in this behavior?

What is the purpose, reason, or end?

What is the goal?

How does this “goal” align with what you’re ultimately trying to do?

There is a reason for everything you do.

Don’t believe it? Take a piece of paper, and make two columns.

On the left, write what you have done yesterday. On the right, write the reason why you did it.

Here’s mine.

What I didReason
I did pushupsI want to be healthy and look good and I need to train my discipline muscle
I got breakfastI was hungry
I went to the officeTo work
I translated my copywriting building structure to FrenchI plan on doing copywriting in French
I googled what histamines wereI wanna know whether I am histamine intolerant as it would explain a lot
I helped my brotherI like it and want him to appreciate me
I went home and wrote a blog articleI like it and it helps me think
I went to sleep at midnightI want to have energy the next day


The point here is there is a reason for everything you did yesterday. Purpose drove your behavior, even if these goals weren’t driven by an end-state you value.

How you spend your time matters. It reflects your goals.

It reflects the outcomes you’re seeking for yourself. Looking at what you’ve done the past twenty-four hours and then examining the reason for your behaviors will help you see what your goals are.

You will only be able to control your time and yourself when you truly determine what you want for yourself. Your goals must be actively and consciously chosen, then pursued. Spending your days on activities leading you to something incredibly important, something you truly value, is how you live without regret.

Questions:

Looking back at your list of activities from the past twenty-four hours, which ones are aligned with your future self?

Which of those behaviors will your future self not engage in?

Which of them, if removed, would free up more space and energy for what you ultimately want?


Tomorrow, we will talk about the 3 sources of all goals.

See you tomorrow!
 

mon_fi

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Day 8

The Three Sources of All Goals

Personal confidence comes from making progress toward goals that are far bigger than your present capabilities. —Dan Sullivan

All behavior is goal-driven. But where do “goals” come from?

Fundamentally, goals come from three sources:

1. Exposure:

Goals come from what you know. You can’t decide to go to Mars if you don’t know Mars exists. Similarly, you can’t decide to become rich if you don’t know it is possible to become rich.

MJ pursued the Fastlane once he was exposed to that guy in the Lamborghini as a kid. MJ was exposed to the possibility to become rich other than by being a singer or actor.

When MJ was exposed to this new possibility, he could then pursue it.

2. Desire:

You won’t pursue or engage in something if you don’t want it. But then, why do people do jobs they hate? Because they want the money. Neh. Actually, they want to pay the bills.

That’s their goal. Now, what if you changed the goal? What if you abandoned paying the bills, and decided to choose a meaningful goal instead?

Just because you want something doesn’t mean you should want it. Our desires do not come from our innate personality. Instead, our desires are trained, usually through experiences we’ve had, society, media, and those around us.

Often, your current desires—such as sleeping in, binge-watching Netflix, or staying up late with friends—contradict your future self's desire, and are incompatible with better outcomes.

Now, as we said, desires can actually be trained. You can train yourself wanting something. Amazing, isn't it?

When you evolve as a person, you develop a sense of purpose that expands beyond your personal preferences and interests. This purpose pushes you outside of your preferences and ultimately transforms who you are.

You train desire by actively and intentionally pursuing a goal. As was discussed in the previous chapter, passion follows engagement and skills. Since you can learn to become passionate about anything, you might as well be intentional about what you choose to become passionate about.

3. Confidence

You won’t pursue goals you don’t think you can achieve.

Your current goals reflect your current level of confidence

Your job and income level are based on your confidence. Your friends are based on your confidence. How you dress is based on your confidence. Confidence is the basis of imagination—which is required for seeing and choosing a future beyond your current capability and circumstances.

Confidence reflects your personal belief in what you can do, learn, and accomplish. The greater your confidence, the bigger your future self.

Now, the problem with confidence is that it can easily be broken. Confidence is fragile and erratic. Negative experiences can wreck your confidence and imagination.

The good news is that confidence can be consolidated, built, and rebuilt. It is done through courage, getting out of your comfort zone, and doing that which is not easy.

This is the reason why you should have goals located outside of your comfort zone. As you intentionally and courageously pursue meaningful goals, you’ll have peak experiences.

Those peak experiences will make you more flexible as a person. You will understand you are flexible and can change. You will become more confident and capable to create and achieve even bigger goals.

You can increase confidence in two ways:

Through small and consistence actions outside of your comfort zone (if you're shy, it can be looking at people in the eyes one day, then saying hello in the elevator, then talking to strangers in a bar, hosting people with couchsurfing, etc).

Or you can do so through bold one-time actions towards your future called a “power move”.

A power move can be quitting your job, investing in a mentor, going for a run in public, having an honest conversation, publishing a blog post even if you’re scared, asking for a raise, etc.

The more power moves you make, the more peak experiences you'll have. The more peak experiences you have, the more flexible and confident you’ll become as a person. The more flexible and confident you are, the more imaginative and exciting will be the future you create and pursue.

Identity Should Be Intentionally Designed, Based on Your Desired Future Self

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand. —Albert Einstein

Often, identity and personality are reactions to life events, circumstances, and habits. In that case, people are not "in charge" of who they become. And that's most people.

Few people indeed intentionally define and shape their identity based on who they plan to be and then become that person. This is precisely, the subject of this thread.

If you want to change your personality and become who you want or need to be, you need a purpose.

You need a vision, something meaningful to pursue. Yes, engaging in what you love for the sake of it is all well and good. But you won’t actually push your perceived limits without visualizing your future self free of those limits.

One day, you will become your future self. The question is: Who is that future self?

Designing your future self requires imagining what their reality and daily experiences are like—the more vivid and detailed the better. What are their freedoms, choices, circumstances, experiences, and daily behaviors?

When you become the driver of your own identity, you care less about how you view yourself now. You focus on your future self. They see things differently, have different freedoms, have different relationships, daily activities, and experiences.

What seems totally mind-blowing or exciting to you now is “normal life” for your future self.

Exercise: write the life of your future self. Be as specific as possible.

What is your day-to-day life like?

What do you stand for?

How much money do you make?

What type of clothes do you wear?

How do you interact with other people?

How do you view your present and future?

What is your purpose?

Where do you live? Who are your friends? What skills and talents do you have?


Tomorrow, we will expand on goal setting and finish chapter 2. See you tomorrow!
 

mon_fi

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DAY 9

Select and Pursue One Major Goal: Your Future-Self Filter

To decide on your mission, simply look over all of your goals and then ask yourself: Which one of these goals would enable me to become the person I need to be to achieve everything else I want in my life. The answer to that question is your mission. —Hal Elrod

Now, choose one major goal. Having multiple goals is a reflection of fear and a lack of decision-making. Choose one goal. Just one.

This one goal must support all the others. In the realm of goals, financial goals are usually important because of all the other goals they suddenly enable. If you want to look better, earning more enables you to spend on better clothes, better food, get a gym membership, and maybe even a personal trainer.

Choose one goal.

One goal creates focus. Focus creates momentum. Momentum and confidence spill over into all other areas of your life.

While it is important that getting to a goal is a process, process itself shouldn’t be your goal. That leads to mediocrity as it doesn’t give you any direction.

As Peter Thiel explains:

“Indefinite attitudes to the future explain what’s most dysfunctional in our world today. Process trumps substance: when people lack concrete plans to carry out, they use formal rules to assemble a portfolio of various options. This describes Americans today. In middle school, we’re encouraged to start hoarding “extracurricular activities.” In high school, ambitious students compete even harder to appear omnicompetent. By the time a student gets to college, he’s spent a decade curating a bewilderingly diverse résumé to prepare for a completely unknowable future. Come what may, he’s ready—for nothing in particular.”

Commit to Your One Major Goal: Why Results Matter

Whatever your life looks like now is what you were committed to. Your weight, your dating life, the money you earn (ouch).

Your life is a perfect reflection of your commitments.

If you were committed to something else, you’d have different results.

When you truly commit to the results you want, then your life starts improving. Your future self and the one major goal is what you should be committed to. Everything you do needs to be filtered through that one major goal.

Everything.

And that is hard. That's why the slowlane welcomes the majority of people - the Fastlane is too hard.

Most people never even try to achieve their true desire because they are afraid to admit what they truly want. They are afraid to fail.

When you commit to one specific outcome however, that outcome must become your new narrative.

That’s what you’re going to do because you decided it. You may not know exactly how it will all play out, but you will get there.

The level of honesty and transparency you need to come to this point is both rare and contagious—evoking confidence as you begin making progress, and conjuring desire to support as well as help from others.

Another reason to commit to specific results is that it clarifies your identity. Your identity comes from your goals. Being totally bought-in and clear about the end you have in mind instills a deep sense of purpose. You can imagine your future self in the position you want to be.

Questions:

Are you willing to commit to your future self?

Are you willing to commit to one specific goal?

Are you willing to put it all out on the line?

Are you willing to be honest about what you truly want?

Are you willing to refine and enhance your process to ensure improved results?

Go to Bed earlier and wake up earlier

The author goes out on a rant where he advises people to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier because you do better work in the morning while the night is usually the time of the day when you binge-consume products that do nothing good for you.

It's arguable, but I am not supposed to give my opinion.

Questions:

Are you going to create more peak experiences?

Are you going to be more active and intentional with your time?

Are you going to exercise more courage and commitment?

Are you going to act toward your future self, become more flexible, and stop insisting that your former self is who you really are?

Embrace uncertainty

“If there are meaningful choices, there is uncertainty. If there is no choice, there is no uncertainty.” - Dr. Ellen Langer

If you’re unwilling to embrace uncertainty, then you are limiting who you are and who you could become. You limit your ability to make choices because all choices involve uncertainty and risk.

Uncertainty is uncomfortable for our brain because it means risk, and risk means death.

However, if you want to accelerate your learning, you’ll need to embrace uncertainty. You’ll need to take risks and make mistakes. As you do, you’ll experience far more emotions—highs and lows—and through those experiences, you’ll change as a person.

Those are the very peak experiences you will have when you will be committed to your future self. It may hurt a bit, but it will also become much more exciting and less repetitive.

Transform Yourself Daily Through Journaling

While most people think of journaling as writing about your past, we’ll mainly use it to write about the future.

With the right preframe ritual, your journaling sessions can become peak experience, putting you into the best state of mind to live the rest of your day.

Here’s how to enter that state:

  • Remove ALL distractions (phones, etc)
  • Meditate or pray
  • Reviewing your vision or goals before writing (they should be written somewhere accessible. Don’t hesitate to change them as you move forward and adjust)
  • Write about things you’re grateful for—past, present, and future
  • Start writing about your future goal
Don’t get overly attached to what you write about. Write with the expectation and excitement that your future self is real, and that you will be successful. Think in terms of what needs to be done to move yourself forward. Write down all of the things you’ll need to do now and people you’ll need to reach out to.


Conclusion of chapter 2

The truth about personality is that it can, should, and does change. Your goals shape your identity. Your identity shapes your actions. And your actions shape who you are and who you’re becoming. This is how personality is developed.

Tomorrow, we will start chapter 3: Transform Your Trauma.

See you tomorrow!
 

Zahida A. Khan

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"Personality isn't permanent" by Dr. Benjamin Hardy
Hey @mon_fi, been reading Ben's posts for a few years and bought some of his products. This book is on my reading list.

I'm about to dive in and read your summary

Thanks for sharing
 

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No one was born with a personality. Whatever personality you had, you developed it, you built it. Extraordinary people weren’t born with their abilities – they learned them, developed them, and worked on them to become who they became. They had to transform themselves into the person they wanted to be.

The author clearly hasn't had any children yet. They do get born with a certain preset. Some are adventurous other aren't for example. Many more examples to be given on the subject.
 

mon_fi

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The author clearly hasn't had any children yet. They do get born with a certain preset. Some are adventurous other aren't for example. Many more examples to be given on the subject.
He adopted 3 kids and had 2 twins before writing the book.
 

mon_fi

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Personality isn't permanent: a summary

DAY 10

Chapter 3 Transform Your Trauma

Being traumatized means continuing to organize your life as if the trauma were still going on—unchanged and immutable—as every new encounter or event is contaminated by the past. —Bessel van der Kolk

The author tells the story of Rosalie, a woman who never fulfilled her vision of writing children books.

When in her thirties, Rosalie took a drawing class to learn how to draw and subsequently fulfill her dream. One day, the teacher asked the class to do a specific exercise. When it came time to review the students' work, he looked and complimented everyone...but Rosalie's. When he arrived in front of her canvas, he took the brush and “corrected” the painting.

The shame mixed with the public embarrassment she felt marked her for life.

Rosalie never drew ever again after that incident. During the 60 seconds of being corrected, she internalized the belief that she wasn’t good at this, and that she would never become good anyway.

Drawing and writing children’s books remained a distant dream.

That is the definition of trauma. Traumas are usually associated with war scenes, or horrific and violent events leading to neightmares and PTSD. But these are extreme traumas.

A trauma can be as simple as someone shaming you, locking you up in a shelf for fun as a kid, or a degrading comment from a teacher.

In this chapter, you’ll learn how trauma influences our lives and actions.

Trauma Shatters Hope and Eliminates the Future

The author explains the mechanism associated with a math trauma.

Math trauma manifests as anxiety or dread, and an incapacitating fear of being wrong.

Most students develop a math trauma after a bad experience with math. They began to think they aren’t good at math and that it will never change. As such, they stop paying attention to math in the classroom and refuse to make efforts to learn it since “they are not good at it”. One bad experience led to the internalization that they sucked, which led the fear of math to become part of their identity.

Sometimes a student may perform well on initial tests and assignments but still fear making mistakes or revealing weakness or incompetence to a teacher or parent. This is not surprising since they will be sanctioned if they're wrong.

Dr. Ruef, a psychologist dealing with this issue, has called this a “fragile math identity.” As long as students victim of this condition understand the math, it’s alright. But at the first sign of difficulty, the confidence in their learning capacity can be shattered and it’s back to ground zero.

As a result, these students avoid rather than pursue failure, and as such, the inevitable eventually occurs when they reach their skill cap and “fail.” Reaching their skill cap can then be traumatic.

According to Dr. Ruef, the most common experiences leading to math trauma are being told you aren’t good at math by an adult (often a teacher), panicking over timed math tests, or getting stuck on some math topic and struggling to move past it. Without the help of a supportive teacher, mentor, or parent, the student gives up.

Pain and failure become associated with math. All imagination and interest in math fades. A “future” involving math no longer becomes possible.

That’s the principle behind trauma.

One of its features is that it stops you from being psychologically flexible. The trauma creates some sort of rule in your mind (I am not good at math), you become rigid and fixed in your thinking. One way to illustrate that is by measuring the imagination and creativity of people with PTSD.

They score zero.

Imagination is all about mental flexibility—seeing and believing different angles and possibilities, and the trauma simply prevent them from doing so.

When traumatized, you start thinking in black and white. Instead of seeing different perspectives and contexts, instead of seeing nuance, you focus exclusively on the event that happened. You believe the experience you went through is systematic and objective instead of just being one bad experience among many others.

This creates a fixed mindset which is according to Carole Dweck, a mindset rooted in a past experience.

The opposite of a fixed mindset is what Dweck calls a “growth mindset,” a flexible mindset. It is the belief that you can change your traits and character. Having a growth mindset means your life is defined by the future and focused on what can change.

Research on both trauma and the fixed mindset shows that they each individually lead to an exaggerated fear of failure.

People don’t want to deal with that kind of failure. It would make too big a mark on their identity, leaving them feeling like a total and utter failure, like the end of the world.

Instead of even trying, they convince themselves to simply go for something else, less risky and more certain. To quote Robert Brault, “We are kept from our goal not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.”

The trauma leads us to become rigid about who we are and what we can do. We become defined by our past experiences which now drive our future capabilities.

This is why making commitments about ourselves and our future should not be done while we’re in a traumatic or emotionally broken state. From that state, our decisions for ourselves and our future will be limited. Instead, we want to make our decisions and commitments while in a peak and heightened state—when our faith and expectations are high.

Quick exercise:


Describe one negative or traumatic experience that you’ve had in your past.

In what ways has this experience led you to pursue “lesser goals” or held you back in your progress in any way?

Now reframe those negative experiences by writing how they could ultimately help you become a stronger person.

Tomorrow, we will expand on the link between trauma and personality development.

See you tomorrow!
 

Zahida A. Khan

Contributor
Jun 11, 2020
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Toronto
He adopted 3 kids and had 2 twins before writing the book.
Yup!! That's 1 of the reasons I started reading his blogs and purchased a few items from him

He was also real about something he did in his past and spoke openly about it and how he corrected himself - I admire real authenticity and vulnerability
 

Zahida A. Khan

Contributor
Jun 11, 2020
34
28
42
Toronto
The reason why personality is seen as fixed is because psychologists almost only deal with the past. And the reason why they do that is because they have been trained to think that the future is caused by the past.
Totally concur

Is this based on Freudian theory?

All of “you” is constantly evolving as you go through the day. It is evolving as you live through new experiences.

@mon_fi, I'm just editing my new book, "You! Version 2.0" and much of what you covered I've covered in my book. Neuroscientists have learned more about brain plasticity in the past 2 decades with supporting studies showing that we can literally change and build new neuropathways in our brain, however, tis easier for a child, teen and under 25 y/o to change, and it takes more cognitive effort for older peeps to change, yet another HOWEVER, if their PAIN is soOoo great, they can make massive change in the blink of an eye!!

I loved your summary of Chapter 1 and looks like you are en route 2 creating your book??

Look forward to Chapter 2 ... thanks kindly 4 sharing your thoughts, you have inspired me and I'm thinking I should follow your lead with my own book
 

mon_fi

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Totally concur

Is this based on Freudian theory?



@mon_fi, I'm just editing my new book, "You! Version 2.0" and much of what you covered I've covered in my book. Neuroscientists have learned more about brain plasticity in the past 2 decades with supporting studies showing that we can literally change and build new neuropathways in our brain, however, tis easier for a child, teen and under 25 y/o to change, and it takes more cognitive effort for older peeps to change, yet another HOWEVER, if their PAIN is soOoo great, they can make massive change in the blink of an eye!!

I loved your summary of Chapter 1 and looks like you are en route 2 creating your book??

Look forward to Chapter 2 ... thanks kindly 4 sharing your thoughts, you have inspired me and I'm thinking I should follow your lead with my own book
Thank you for your kind words.

I found "Personality isn't permanent" to be such a good book that I am summarizing it here for the Fastlane Forum.

There is no plan for me to write a book.
 

mon_fi

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Personality isn't permanent: a summary


DAY 11

Personality as the By-Product of Trauma

Traumas are the painful experiences—both in our past and future— that we haven’t processed and are avoiding.

Think of it as a spider web. It limits your capacity to move and decreases your strength.

We think that this incapacitated person we have become as a result of trauma is simply “who we are”.

But it’s not.

Who we are is our deepest-held aspirations, dreams, and goals.

Trauma is self-sustaining in the sense that it prevents us from facing our fear and our truth.

Rather than creating the life we want, we build the life around our traumas, enabling them to exists and take space.

Rather than becoming the person we want to become, we stay the person we are.

Rather than adapting our personality to match our goals, we adapt our goals to match our current and limited personality.

Questions:

How have negative experiences shaped you?

Where do you have a fixed mindset?

Where have you built your life around your thorns?

What goals are you pursuing to avoid dealing with your trauma?

How would your life be different if the trauma was gone?

What life would you ideally choose for yourself?

Who is your ideal future self, regardless of what you’ve been in the past or what has happened to you?

Moving Past Trauma

A refractory period is the amount of time it takes to emotionally recover and move on from an experience. Some events take minutes, some take hours, some take days. Some take months.

A trauma is an event whose the person who’s felt it did not go through a refractory period.

A way to decrease the refractory period is to be psychologically flexible, meaning, being in touch with your emotions, feel them, and express them as you go through them. That’s how you can process them.

Being in touch means being aware, and that is different from being grounded. It’s about expressing your emotions BUT without being completely absorbed by them. You hold your thoughts and emotions loosely as you actively pursue meaningful goals.

The less you hold onto mistakes or painful experiences, the better you’re able to adapt to what the situation requires and perform in order to achieve your goals. What happened in the past doesn’t impact the next thing you do, or stop you from being entirely present in this moment. The more psychologically flexible you are, the faster you can let things go. The less psychologically flexible you are, the longer you hold on to even small things.

When someone remains stuck in an emotional refractory period after a difficult experience, they literally get stuck in the memory and continue to experience life from the point of view they had when the event happened.

They stay imprisoned in an emotional and mental perspective.

Therefore, day after day, they continue reconstructing the emotions of the experience. They don’t regulate and reframe how they see and feel about the event. Trauma becomes a rut.

As the author Dr. Joe Dispenza states: “If you keep that refractory period going for weeks and months, you’ve developed a temperament. If you keep that same refractory period going on for years, it’s called a personality trait. When we begin to develop personality traits based on our emotions, we’re living in the past, and that’s where we get stuck. Teaching ourselves and our children to shorten the refractory period frees us to move through life without obstruction.”

Empathetic Witness: How to Transform Trauma

You’re only as sick as your secrets. —Alcoholics Anonymous

Trauma is only an interpretation of an event during which you felt painful emotions.

Although an initial reaction may be highly negative, all painful experiences can be reframed, reinterpreted, and ultimately used as growing experiences. As such, a "trauma" doesn’t necessarily have to remain traumatic.

Solving your trauma is about changing your view on the experience. It’s about going from seeing it as happening to you, to seeing it as happening for you.

In order to transform the event from a traumatic experience to a “learning” experience and hence, a “positive” experience, you have to get rid of the pain you internalized.

You need to face your emotions and get them out by sharing them with other people. By processing your experiences and emotions, by facing them, you change them. They become lighter.

Dr. Peter Levine, a renowned trauma researcher, said, “Trauma is not what happens to us, but what we hold inside in the absence of an empathetic witness.”

The reason why traumas happen in the first place is that the more painful an experience is, the least likely it is we’ll talk about it, and the more likely we’ll internalize it.

This creates a fixed mindset.

The past becomes that heavyweight we’d rather not think about. The avoidance of pain creates addiction (cigarettes, alcohol, weed, stress, sugar, porn, sex...) we use to numb ourselves to both the pain of the past and the pain of pursuing a desired future.

We get rid of the trauma when we feel the emotion attached to it and process it by expressing it to an empathetic witness.

As therapist Lynn Wilson said, “It is this honest connection between two human beings that, in the end, makes what we endured together understandable and meaningful.”

Family and friends being too busy, a psychotherapist is the one that now serves as an empathetic witness.

An empathetic witness will help you reach the "next level" of the trauma, the one where you process it, accept it, then move on.

So, you need people in your life who can help you get to your own next level. Otherwise, you’re going to hit some emotional experiences, bottle them up, and plateau or decline as a person. Molehills can become mountains if you don’t have an empathetic witness to help you process and reframe your experiences.

A true empathetic witness encourages you to decide what you can do to move forward.

This demands courage. Courage transforms trauma. Encouragement facilitates courage. Getting encouragement from others in your life helps you act courageously yourself. This is why you need encouraging people in your life.

Quick exercise:

List two or three people in your life who have been your biggest encouragers.

How have they encouraged you?

Why has it been so impactful?

Reach out to them and openly thank them for their help in your life.

A team of empathetic witnesses are people that listen to you express your feelings in a non-judgmental way which enables you to process them and move past them.

Questions:

Who are three important empathetic witnesses in your life right now?

What other people could you add, or do you need, as empathetic witnesses?

Who could you get on your team, right now, to help you get where you want to go?

How much accountability and vulnerability do you currently have?

Tomorrow, we will keep on talking about trauma and see how we can practically solve them.

See you tomorrow!
 

mirabdolbaghi

Contributor
Mar 12, 2017
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I watched an interesting video and it somewhat relates to this topic.


I've always thought of Woody Allen as a creepy, evil guy who made great movies. Turns out, the child molester thing was a lie perpetuated by the media.

Two courts, doctors, and police officers found him not guilty. There was no physical trauma on the child, the child's first report was not consistent with the claim, and Mia Farrow has a history of crazy antics.

But the reason I thought of this thread is because of Dylan Farrow. IF there is no proof that she is molested, which this video seems to prove, then her memory of the trauma was fabricated and believed as real.

Because of her mother's suggestions and the world telling her that she was hurt, she believed it as truth. If so, then she IS a victim but of a different crime.

It's a bit off-topic to this thread but it makes me think of how unreliable our memories can be.

As mentioned by @mon_fi , psychologists believe the past is the bedrock, the foundation of who we are. But what if the past is not as concrete as we thought it was?
 

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