Once your awareness becomes a flame, it burns up the whole slavery that the mind has created. ~Osho??

On a recent trip, my wife and I met a very engaging couple. In the course of our conversations, the husband identified himself as having a tendency toward introversion. As we got to know our travel companions better, he expressed some frustration with this tendency in social situations.

Because my brain often meanders from one random neurological nest to the next, the phenomena of a change continuum came to mind. Our new friend might label himself as being “an introvert” when a more appropriate self-description might be, “I sometimes have difficulty talking to others in social situations.” “What’s the difference?” one might pose. A lot, really. Labels suggest permanence, i.e. “I am tall or “I have brown eyes.” Nobody would say “I choose to be tall” or “I have difficulty having blue eyes” because height and eye color are characteristics that are not subject to change. On the other hand, talking to strangers (or not) is a choice.

At this point, readers might argue, “Don’t you think that some people are more naturally outgoing than others, for example?” and I would agree. I have come to believe that most human behaviors and characteristics can be best accounted for using the “spectrum principle.” For example, instead of seeing my new friend as an introvert, he is better described as aligning somewhere on an “introversion/extroversion continuum.” He initially tended to be quiet while his more loquacious spouse carried the conversation. Eventually, he relaxed and joined the conversation. His initially silent demeanor was replaced with insightful and entertaining repartee. Obviously, this conduct change was a matter of choice; nobody “made him talk” nor had anyone demanded silence from him earlier.   He chose to be quiet earlier and more expressive later. Or to put it another way, he had elected to move from the left to the right on the introversion/extroversion continuum.

The message of today’s newsletter invites us all to examine literally every way that we see ourselves. Are you ambitious? A procrastinator? Lazy? Kind?   However you may label yourself (or perhaps were labeled by others in the past), recognize that these are not permanent conditions. Height and eye color are; the above traits, along with dozens of other terms that may be used to describe us, are more accurately on a continuum.

The greatest benefit we receive from this shift in self-perception is its liberating nature. Our travelling companion can choose to be active at a party or not. There is no such thing as a kind person per se. Instead, it is more accurate to realize that we choose to engage in considerate behavior at times and not at others. And so it goes.

Expand your life experience by seeing yourself as moving, by choice, on the continuums of behavior that characterize all of us. We are not this or that. We are what (and who) we choose to be.    Think about it.

Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change. Dyer