“The people heard it, and approved the doctrine, and immediately practised the contrary.”
― Benjamin Franklin
This one will be short and confusing but I promise it is important. In his 2013 Wesleyan commencement address, Joss Whedon talked about the inherent contradictions of being human. “The contradiction between your body and your mind, between your mind and itself. I believe these contradictions and these tensions are the greatest gifts that we have.” The notion of our “self” or “personality” as something established and fairly long-lasting is being replaced by a new, much more apt paradigm. As something soft and negotiated, and more importantly, through a process that requires work as opposed to something one is born with.
You have, which is a rare thing, that ability and the responsibility to listen to the dissent in yourself, to at least give it the floor, because it is the key – not only to consciousness but to real growth. To accept duality is to earn identity. And identity is something that you are constantly earning. It is not just who you are. It is a process that you must be active in.
Embracing our inner contradictions is important. This is quite a shift from the prevailing popular mild disdain for “flip-floppers” (John Kerry should feel vindicated). This contradiction, and this tension … it never goes away. And if you think that achieving something, if you think that solving something, if you think a career or a relationship will quiet that voice, it will not. If you think that happiness means total peace, you will never be happy. Peace comes from the acceptance of the part of you that can never be at peace. It will always be in conflict. If you accept that, everything gets a lot better.
In his book The Ego Trick, Julian Baginni argues that the self is really a “bundle” of thoughts and while it still very much exists, it is merely a collection of things and not an immutable monolith: “We are these very remarkably ordered collections of things. It is because we’re so ordered that we are able to think of ourselves as being singular persons. But there is no singular person there, that means we’re forever changing.” Yet, while we are thoughts, memories, and parts, Baginni does believe we are more than a sum of our parts. The fact that we are dynamic changing systems means that we are constantly in the process of negotiating our identity. Questioning our assumptions, and revelling in our contradictions instead of castigating yourself for your inconstancy.
Whedon concludes his speech by addressing the second from last graduation speech, changing the world: “So here’s the thing about changing the world. It turns out that’s not even the question, because you don’t have a choice. You are going to change the world because that is actually what the world is. You do not pass through this life, it passes through you. Meaning you experience it, you interpret it, you act, and then it is different. That happens constantly. You are changing the world.”
In other words, don’t feel quite so bad about being a walking contradiction and be more accepting of your flip-flopping ways, taking comfort in the fact that being able to “argue yourself down” makes a little more aware and able to pull aside the stage curtain, if you will. So what then are the implications of this inherent conformity for brand loyalty? What impact does your oft-renegotiated “personality” have on your lifestyle choices then? Food for thought.The motivation behind any action should never be the result but the process. Tweet Me
We have all met someone who has grand ideas the whole time, you meet them today and they are into farming. Next week they are into rearing pigs, the next they are into stocks and bonds. Yet in all the ventures nothing actually gets done. They talk more than they execute, a clear contradiction.
Reasons Why You Are A Walking Contradiction
- Lack of Ambition – Imagine this, you are in a relationship with a gym freak. They exercise every day and eat healthily, the whole shabang. So you end up conforming to their regime not because you want to exercise and be healthy but because you are piggybacking off them. The goal you are chasing is not yours, but someone else’s and what happens, in the long run, is you have no ambition to achieve it because it was never yours to start with.
- You are Result Driven – The motivation behind any action should never be the result but the process. Enjoy the journey because there are many lessons to be learned and appreciated. Remember the result is a bonus, it is the process that gives satisfaction. Imagine having sex just to have a baby and not actually enjoying the sex! Make sense?
- You are Emotional – Many people, myself included, make decisions based on emotion without the benefit of intellect. The classic example, you drink too much and because you are hungover you swear you are never going to drink again. Or you are so full from all the buffet you ate, you are sitting on a couch with your jeans button popped and your belly hanging over and you say ” I need to go on a diet“. The decision is temporary, you FEEL a certain way then but will you honour what you said even after the feeling you said It in has left?
The ability to learn to should always be revered even when pain is the teacher. If you notice what I have done with this post you will see that there is a contradiction in points raised. The reason is intentional, to show that it is okay to have a contradiction. You just need to know why you are contradicting yourself and how detrimental that contradiction is to your ultimate goal.
As always, hope you and yours are safe. Do not be afraid to second guess yourself once in a while, it shows you are weighing all options available to you. We have choices for a reason, do not be afraid to explore all of them until you find the most suitable one for you. Contradiction or not, the choice is yours. Share with us your thoughts in the comments section.