We like to think we can tell ourselves what to do—that we’re fully in control and we just need to muster up our will power and get to work. Well, we are silly. It doesn’t really work that way. In fact, it doesn’t work that way at all. We’re a mass of unconscious drives that’s collided into the consciousness associated with being human, and we have a little bit of control over the whole deal. But that’s not to say that change isn’t possible—it’s very possible. Despite what people that give bad relationship advice might tell you, people can change—dramatically.
Before that change can happen, however, you need to understand something. You are not your servant. You can’t coerce or cajole yourself into doing things. If you think you can, go ahead and try—see how it goes. You’ll learn a harsh truth about what you’re really like. Or, instead, you could try the subtle art of self-negotiation.
Start with a simple understanding—that there’s a future version of your self that you value based on qualities that you admire. You see yourself embodying something that you hold in esteem—maybe it’s training consistency. Maybe it’s the ability to remain stoic in the face of emotional turmoil. It’s completely up to you. But you have to decide what that valued future version of yourself is entirely for your own purposes. Letting other influences creep in, or deciding that you want to be something for someone else kills the self-negotiation because you’ll rebel. Some deeper part of you, that unconscious part we talked about, will close the productive talks you’re having. And you will, most likely, fail.
Then embolden your understanding by realizing that you’re giving yourself the autonomy to choose. You have to give yourself the freedom to make choice, and take responsibility for your choices—that’s the driving force of your negotiating power. It begins with simple statements like, “I’m choosing to do this so that I can do, or become, X.” Giving yourself, and making, these types of choices, and statements, allows you to move toward your ideal rather than rebelling against progress because you’re trying to bully yourself into action.
Envision yourself in the future, embodying the change you’d like to see, think about how, and, why you’d admire yourself for that change. I know—it may sound kind of cheesy, but we have to think about how the effort of change makes our lives better, and attach to that vision so that we can actually do it. Then, think of the little steps it will take you to get there and plot them out. Think, also, about how each of those little steps will impact your life. Then, realize that each of these steps is a choice and that they are 100% optional—but you’re choosing to do them so that you can grow to be who you want to be. Further realize that it’s all a process, and there will be hiccups, but the negotiation is always open if you keep the ideal that you want in your mind and give yourself the choice of how to act to obtain it.
P.S. The ideas in this post are heavily influenced by:
- The concept self-authoring
- Lectures by Jordan Peterson
- Ideas of Carl Rogers
- Self-determination theory
If you have a few spare minutes, look into those suckers!
Ready to check out Loudoun’s “Different” Gym?