Our self image, strongly held, essentially determines what we become. – Maxwell Maltz
Last night in my MIS class our Prof hit on some really great points about self-image and why people, no matter how often we try to make them change – don’t. The importance of this information was tied into the fact that many large corporations try to implement new processess and policies only to find that they are ignored. This is especially true with “Knowledge Workers” who use their brains to do their jobs and not manual labor. Once we develop a way we like to do things, a way that has worked just fine for us, we don’t like to change it.
According to Dr. Maltz, each individual has a picture of who they are and how the world sees them. This self-image is created over time by our failures and successes and by what people have told us repeatedly about ourselves. “Once a belief about oursevles goes into this picture it becomes truth” Maltz says ” We do not question it’s validity, but proceed to act as if it were true.”
Think about that for a moment. If you were told in the 7th grade that you weren’t good at math, were you ever good at math? I wasn’t. It always came hard for me. For most of my life I didn’t consider myself a creative person, it was only when I started to work for TI that I started to believe I was creative and only then because people told me over and over how creative I was. It took years for me to actually believe that I truly am creative and then to start nurturing and feeding that creativity.
I thought this information was interesting to note especially in the case of Americans and dieting, exercise and general health. Our teacher put a quote on the board form Maltz that said, and I’m paraprhasing, “90% of all patients with heart disease do not change their eating habits or lifestyles even after they have had heart surgery and they know that if they do not change their habits they will die.”
I had an Uncle that smoked cigarettes like a freight train. When I met him for the first time he had no voice box. He used one of those machines that you held up to a hole in your throat and when you talked it sounded like a robot or a Speak and Spell. He had gotten throat cancer and so they removed his voicebox, but he kept smoking. Later, Cancer ate up his entire face. My dad went to visit him int he hospital during his last days and he said the cancer was so bad that his face was mutilated and his lips were so swollen that they stretched back away from his teeth and he couldn’t even close his mouth.
It’s an ugly picture, but a picture that only validates Maltz’s theories about change.
As I have worked hard to diet these last few weeks, as I have struggled for self-discipline and self-control I have noticed areas where I have sabotaged my self. I have been my worst enemy at reaching my goals.
I’m always delighted to learn truths about human behavior. Understanding why I am the way that I am helps me to take better actions for change. It’s gonna be hard, but I can change.