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Model of the self

Permanent Linkby Ada on Sat Jun 23, 2012 12:43 pm

Sparked by various discussions in the SPD forum, I've been thinking about my imagined self, the mental model that I use to base decisions on. Which I'm calling Me here, although it is not separate or named when I think with it. For example, I might say: should I do X tomorrow? I imagine Me doing X and see how it feels. Is there a benefit: yes, I'll do it. If not, or if there's a significant downside counterbalancing the up: no, I won't.

I realised a week or two ago that my Me does not have quirky personality traits. Worse, it's not based on what I might be like if I were 100% average, either. It is my fantasy self who is always impossibly erudite, witty, loving and loved in every daydreamed circumstance. This is a problem. It causes cognitive dissonance when I make plans and set goals that are, in essence, stupid. I know better than to commit myself to day-long social events, back-to-back appointments and so on. But that's after years of bitter experience and even now it's a conscious process. My Me creates a version of what I OUGHT to want, and then I have to scale that back to achieve any of it.

Letting Me shop makes it obvious where the problem is. Me can vividly imagine myself with a high-powered job in the capital, and will try to buy clothes or accessories to match. Or evening gowns for the theatre, ignoring the plain fact that I haven't been in over ten years. Fortunately I lack the expensive tastes that would turn this into a major issue. It's just a little sad as I take yet another pile of alternative-universe-Ada outfits to the charity shop.

Finally, Me is sometimes right. I rarely want to leave the house for social reasons, but have to grudgingly admit that they are often fun. It's Me that has encouraged me to quit bad jobs and to apply for new, better ones. Of course. It's supporting movement towards the Idealised Me. And I have a kickass wardrobe ready if I get there.

What am I even saying here? That I am confused about finding my balance between realism and idealism? Yes, also that I thought it was good to know my limitations, but it is increasingly apparent I have no idea. In fact, that I can't quite trust Me. I'm not out to self-sabotage or hurt myself, but, I'm seriously stupid about myself.

We think too much and feel too little.
 More than machinery, we need humanity.
 More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.

Charlie Chaplain in The Great Dictator
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