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Defining the SELF - born that way or self-fulfilling prophecy?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I've been working in my mind on a practical application from "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People". It starts off with a visualization technique - imagining our own funeral and one person from each of four categories speaking of the type of person we were. It hasn't been as easy as I might have hoped, but interestingly enough I'm even learning from the process.

One of the key things that has been rattling its way to the surface of my mind is related to "character traits" (or "personality"). When someone speaks at a funeral, they generally don't wax poetic about physical appearance.

"Ah, Marge, how we'll miss her silky auburn tresses and carefully manicured hands."
No, they speak of the type of person.

"Ah, Marge, she was unfailingly polite and prompt. You could trust any promise she made."

In trying to think of character traits I (or someone else) would use to describe me, I went looking online for lists. There are LOTS of lists because successful writing of fiction requires character creation.

Here's where it got interesting. I have different reactions to different traits. As I consider my response to some of those traits, I've had rather a shift in how I consider them. Some of these traits ... I've had a deep-seated belief they can't be changed. I was "born that way".

I'm lazy. I'm independent. I'm clumsy. I'm responsible. I'm a scrooge. I'm not maternal. I'm disconnected emotionally. I'm optimistic. I'm reliable / dependable. I'm empathetic, but rarely if ever sympathetic. I'm a chatterbox. I say these things - aloud, in writing, in my mind. I've believed them, to greater or lesser degree. And for the LONGEST time, I've believed that personality is somehow unchanging and unchangeable.

Now I'm challenging that. I'm asking myself whether these are truly pre-defined personality traits or whether they have become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If I believe I am lazy, I tell myself I'm lazy, I tell others I'm lazy ... and I have invested myself in being lazy to prove myself right. After all, if I say I am lazy and then I work really hard ... I'm a liar.

How much of what I believe about my innate nature is based on a foundation of decision(s), actions, and external reinforcement, built up through interpretation of my own memory, and reinforced by my own ongoing choices to live up to my belief?

Lazy? When I make a choice to get something done, I work HARD at it. I'm very efficient and effective when I want to be. When I realized how much extra work cleaning became if I didn't keep up with it, I swapped to keeping things more clean regularly. Yet I ~STILL~ call myself lazy on occasion. Me. The person who walks from work, from the gym, works out daily .... I call myself lazy.


There has to be something deeper than what I'm looking at. Some of the traits on the list are one I immediately think would be learned from the environment. Trusting or distrustful are traits we can usually trace the origin of in betrayal or loyalty of someone close. Others are more of a range than absolutes at either end. Few people are absolutely and completely honest, even if just as few are intentionally deceptive at all times.

I haven't dug to the bottom of this one yet. I'm literally going through lists of traits and attitudes and so on, paying attention to my thoughts on them. It's quite illuminating. I don't consider myself selfless nor want to be, yet I don't consider selfish the right answer either. I say I'm not maternal, yet I raised 2 of my 3 kids to adulthood. I consider myself emotionally disconnected and yet I've had people call me kind and thoughtful.

The End? The Beginning? Somewhere in between, as usual.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DAUGHTEROFTWIN 10/15/2012 12:42PM

    Interesting questions. I'm not so sure of the accuracy of 1) our own analysis of our traits or 2) the analysis by others of our traits. I have really enjoyed reading your blogs. I appreciate your brutal openness, honesty and sharing.

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SPARKFRAN514 10/14/2012 10:27PM

    like your new page first off very peaceful and summer like for those of us that are having cold and rain for a few days this fall. i have a hard time giving up my race shirts. I still have my firat Bloomsday shirt from 1986. I wore one this year to pick up my race packet and ran into some i knew ans her daughter the daughter say mom her shirt is older than i AM an she was 14 !!!
sounded like you had a good race and trip down memory lane. that to me is always fun. and as for walking in heels way to go i don't even wear heel when i dress up have a great week and good luck in continued challenges with your team

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HEALTHYHEIDI12 10/12/2012 6:22PM

    This is really interesting and gave me a lot to ponder. Thanks!

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STONECOT 10/12/2012 3:31PM

    Funnily enough I would describe myself 100% in your terms! Kind of, but then, lazy?? Comes from my mother describing me thus, and my husband too! Both with other agendas as they tried to control me! Now, with them both dead, I never stop! Karate, walking, tai chi, gym, swimming.... Lazy! I don't think so! Independent? Yes, and bloody minded too! Clumsy? Yes, I get easily distracted and don't look what I'm doing! But when I do my karate kata, l'm like a ballerina! Scrooge? In small matters, but I can be very generous at the right moments. Not maternal? So what, I have three adult children, all of whom love me, and I've always maintained I'd rather have a litter of kittens! ( both daughters agree with me, and all three laugh), I can't stand babies! But if you want happy adults you have to put up with them. I always thought it made me a better mother, because I didn't look at them through rose tinted glasses, but saw them warts and all. I'm optimistic and dependable, I'm not sympathetic, I'll help brush you down, and put you back on your feet, practical help, but not sympathy. People feel sorry enough for themselves without more from me. Emotionally disconnected? I put my feelings into boxes and shut the lid! They stop me thinking subjectively. What good is it to anyone if I break down and blubber all over them. But three o'clock in the morning I can be as emotional as the next woman! But keeping my emotions under control, means I can help without being overcome by them, to the best good.
But it's the 'lazy' that hurts, isn't it. emoticon

Comment edited on: 10/12/2012 3:33:29 PM

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CIPHER1971 10/12/2012 11:20AM

    Interesting - and reflective of a place I am at emoticon

As for Lazy - I always describe myself as the good kind of Lazy - I work hard to find the most efficient way to do every task emoticon

Have a great day

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PKCTTS 10/11/2012 8:26PM

    What a great exercise! I'd have never thought to look for those lists. I've gone through similar exercises at different times in my life and one thing you didn't mention is how we tend to define ourselves in contrast to the people we are closest too. I used to think of myself as somewhat lazy and physically inept. Then I realized that most people don't see me that way at all, but in comparision to my always moving, always getting things done, good at all things athletic husband . . .

And thank goodness we can change our personalities, I can't imagine who I'd be if we weren't able to become someone we admire.

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SPARKFRAN514 10/11/2012 2:00PM

    Not sure I agree you are lazy with your work out plan your spark support of team mates you time spent bloging time spent with you family working ....;.... I always get something to think about after your blogs have a great fun week end you are a day closer emoticon

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KENDRACARROLL 10/11/2012 10:27AM

    I just recently finished an online course "Personal and Professional Development" which had us explore these things. It was very exhausting, actually. Having to dig deep at times.

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CRYSTLE4HIMTX12 10/11/2012 10:15AM

    Neat thoughts.

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GOTTAPLAN4U 10/11/2012 9:31AM

  Good thoughts. I put some of my self defined traits (which coincidentally match many of yours) on my list of things to journal about. I am concentrating on my fitness habits now but have future things to develop. But, for example, clumsiness is something I have thought might be a characteristic that I could correct. I suspect there is an exercise program that could address this - maybe core and balance?
Being disconnected emotionally may be something I could change as a progression of my current project to be more demonstrative with my own emotions - this is a project designed to redirect nervous (emotional) energy away from eating.
And I suspect some traits that sound negative are not so and if examined may fall away from concern.
Thanks for the blog.

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SHERIO5 10/11/2012 9:00AM

    As usual. You've given me something to reflect upon...I think you better be sure to have courageous on your list!

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MJZHERE 10/11/2012 8:52AM

    Great blog! I really like "When someone speaks at a funeral, they generally don't wax poetic about physical appearance. ' A lot of food for thought this morning as I run to meet my day. Will definitely return to this blog later - thanks for taking the time to express yourself so clearly. emoticon

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DIET_FRIEND 10/11/2012 8:36AM

    You might be lazy in some ways, but having read a bunchof your blogs, I would say you are not lazy about fitness! I don't really know you, but if I said something at your funeral, it would be deep thinker, a person who lives against the grain of society, an articulate writer, a determined person, and goal-oriented.

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DEBJAE 10/11/2012 8:11AM

    Very deep ma'am...good blog :)

As far as the lazy term goes, no lazy person is able to lose weight, especially the way you have! I describe myself as 'moments of laziness' to cover those times when I just hang out on the couch and put off laundry, dishes, etc. Most of the time, I get things done though.

I think it's a mixture of all self-fulfilling, born that way AND growing into something you want to be on some level (healthy lifestyle journey).

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BROOKLYN_BORN 10/11/2012 6:58AM

    Very well stated and well written. Perhaps completing the 30 day blog challenge promotes deep introspection?

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ILOVEMALI 10/11/2012 2:32AM


I've never been this introspective. What would I find if I dug?

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30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 30 (The End!)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

( Questions from TANYAP71's blog:

30. What are you most proud of about your journey towards healthy living during the month of September (and October, since I started after the first of the month emoticon )?

Well, I suppose I'm proud that I've completed this blogging challenge - remembering to do this each day. Some of these questions did really make me think about my journey so far and where I would like it to lead in the near future. emoticon I'm proud that I didn't just give pat and easy answers.

(It was nice to read through the many others - even if I didn't have time to respond - who have done this blogging challenge as well. The amazing variety always astonishes me. Sometimes we are so so similar, sometimes we are immensely different.)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DIET_FRIEND 10/11/2012 8:54AM

    Congratulations on completing the challenge. On to the next one!

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DEBJAE 10/11/2012 8:21AM

    Good job and thank you! I'll have to check out this challenge now...

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RUNNERRACHEL 10/10/2012 9:40PM

    emoticon job sticking with the challenge! When you SAY something, you DO it! Great that you've been consistent, really pushed yourself to answer those questions and completed the challenge!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SPARKFRAN514 10/10/2012 7:28PM

    great and to the point your blogs are always right to the point and emoticon on blogging every day. I think i about doing it but sometimes just don't feel i have anything that great to say. i have now started a journal where i write a few things each day to compile into a blog i am hoping do one twice a week. keep up the great job and happy bloging and happy trails to you emoticon

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VALKYRIA- 10/10/2012 7:17PM

    I've enjoyed reading your blogs every day! Thanks for sharing this challenge with us. You are a true inspiration for me.

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40LESSOFERIN 10/10/2012 4:56PM

    emoticon emoticon I enjoyed and learned from reading through your bblogs as well. Thanks for being and inspiration!!

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ILOVEMALI 10/10/2012 4:11PM

    Good job!!

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SHAMAYO 10/10/2012 3:33PM

    Good job! it is awesome that you completed a challenge like this. I'm trying to wake up in the morning right now with out hitting the snooze button. I will be very happy whenI can do that 30 days in a row.

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30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 29

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

( Questions from TANYAP71's blog:

29. There is so much MORE to you than your wellness journey. Please share 10 facts about yourself that aren't related to your weight loss journey, how you eat, or how you exercise.

1) Growing up I was a typical (or not-so-typical?) horse-crazed Jennifer. I had a collection of over 25 model horses, subscribed to a mag on customizing them with "real hair" manes and tails and repositioning, and wrote to penpals from the mag.

2) I'm the oldest of my father's 5 children, and definitely have oldest child traits because he raised us, but in the middle of my mother's 9.

3) I was reading at the age of 3. According to my mother, she taught me letters to keep me busy (because she was caring for my 2.5 year younger sister) and I quickly was asking what everything spelled.

4) I worked on the 49th floor of one of the twin towers for 2-3 months, the only time as an adult that I've lived outside of California. Got to New York mid-heat wave and left mid-first frost.

5) I took violin, swapped to viola as my long arms handled it better, learned piano haphazardly at recess (one teacher would pull it out and play), and wish I'd kept at some instrument - though at least I can read music and play at a simple level.

6) I would love to sky-dive some day, or go up in a balloon, but can't stand the idea of bungee jumping. Obviously, I don't have a notable fear of heights. I'm the sort who loves looking out a glass elevator as the ground drops away.

7) My favorite color is green (*shifty eyes* how did you know?), preferably darker or deeper shades with blue undertones.

8) I can draw reasonably well, but only if I spend hours of undisturbed time at it. (My DDa and the 2.5-year-younger sister are both incredible with quick sketches, while mine are merely passable for getting the idea across in Pictionary / Draw Something.)

9) I can roll my Rs on the front of my tongue (Spanish style), back of my tongue (French style) or do both at the same time (me being a goof-style). I can also whistle blowing out as well as sucking in, go up and down notes enough to do little tunes, and even make a warbling bird-like sound. Oh, and I can say the alphabet backwards almost as fast as I can forwards. Ah, the fun of dorky "talents".

10) I really hate talking on the telephone. Text communication is so much easier. Part of that is a certain tone deafness and tinnitus, so some people are hard to hear clearly. Another part is feeling "trapped" - especially with people who hate to say bye and hang up. Texts I can walk away from and catch up on, but if I miss what someone said, I'm rude and inconsiderate.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHERIO5 10/10/2012 11:15AM

    Thanks for giving us a peek!

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BERKCHIK 10/10/2012 12:55AM

    I share the need for long, uninterrupted hours available in order to draw well, and like that you put that into words :)

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CRYSTLE4HIMTX12 10/9/2012 8:37PM

    It was neat learning a little more about you. emoticon

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ILOVEMALI 10/9/2012 8:29PM

    You are so interesting! I also started reading at 3 -- still a voracious reader!

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CIPHER1971 10/9/2012 3:27PM

    My 'talent' is eating an entire apple core and stalk as well. Not as impressive as the alphabet backwards, but it grosses my kids out emoticon

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30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 28

Monday, October 08, 2012

( Questions from TANYAP71's blog:

28. What do you do for wellness? For example, to increase emotional, spiritual, or intellectual well-being?

I read a lot. I try to constantly be challenging my mind with new information - or even with looking for new ways to consider old information. I include both fiction and non-fiction. For example, I've been working my way through "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", which has practical exercises directly involved in increasing well-being across the board.

I do a lot of self-reflection on things that I avoid, things I don't like, things I reject too quickly. I've personally found that if I'm unwilling to listen to an opinion or a viewpoint, that I probably have some inner "fact" that I'm clinging to which I don't want to challenge.

This may sound strange after saying I seek new information, but I generally avoid "News". Something I've discovered is that the VAST majority of news doesn't help us live our life at all - and too much of it focuses solely on the negative. The "News" is too much sound-bite, too much Spin and posturing, and too much repetition of too few facts. (When I do read or listen to it, I'm often asking questions about what was omitted, why certain irrelevant facts were plastered as though they were most important, and otherwise annoyed at media. Safer to mostly glean the kernels that spill over than to swim in the grain silo.)

I appreciate nature. My love of space, stars, clouds, the night sky, and so on is very much a feeling of connection with a vastness that we are all part of. It is very refreshing to my spiritual well-being to not feel like this little body is it, to expand my awareness of the world around me and feel like I can reach far beyond the "mundane".

I nurture my imagination. I don't consider it childish to "play pretend". The line that I draw is the distinction of fantasy from reality and the need in reality to actually DO something rather than just imagine it. One form this takes is the occasional purchase of a lottery ticket. I don't expect to win. In fact, I'd be shocked and dumb-founded to even get back more than $10 on a $5 ticket. But having bought a ticket, I can take the current jackpot and set my mind free to say "what would I do IF". I already know I'd do things like set aside the tax amount in a savings account until it is due, how much I'd gift and to whom, the big bills / expenses I'd address immediately, and how I'd invest the rest in my future (education, retirement account, etc).

Sure, I'll never win the lottery, but by "dreaming big", I learn a lot about what I want most from life. Where would I like to live? Okay, can I make it happen on a smaller scale by working for it? What would I study if I could quit work and go back to school and for what purpose? Okay, can I learn some of it on my own now? Can I find an evening course that moves me one step that way.

Lastly, all the good habits that help with fitness, health and weight loss have their place in my emotional, spiritual and intellectual well-being. Healthier eating habits? Staying hydrated? More sleep? Being physically active? All those things help reduce stress / the impact of stress. They help provide more energy, less sluggishness, both physically and mentally. They help release attention that otherwise gets stuck on body issues so we can focus more on keeping ourselves fine-tuned.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHERIO5 10/9/2012 9:40AM

    Nice blog! I agree with the news comment.

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HEALTHYHEIDI12 10/8/2012 11:20PM

    I agree with so much of what you wrote, particularly regarding the news. It truly brings me down and plays into my fears, so I read around the news as it were. Great thinking in this post!

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1EMMA2011 10/8/2012 6:26PM

    Enjoyed your blog - I do a lot of introspection also and can relate. Lately I've been bored a lot and looking forward to a new chapter - maybe i'll read the 7 habits book as it sounds like a good read, thanks for this inspiration!! emoticon

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CIPHER1971 10/8/2012 6:01PM

    Awesome blog - your comments about News made me think of Terry Pratchett, one of his books is about news - or 'olds' as he refers to it.

Have an awesome day

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PARASELENIC 10/8/2012 3:58PM

    "but by "dreaming big", I learn a lot about what I want most from life. Where would I like to live? Okay, can I make it happen on a smaller scale by working for it? What would I study if I could quit work and go back to school and for what purpose? Okay, can I learn some of it on my own now?"

What inspiring, sage advice. These are great questions to ask oneself, and a great way to motivate one to change. Thanks for the ideas!

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30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 27

Sunday, October 07, 2012

( Questions from TANYAP71's blog:

27. Have you ever hired anyone to help you with your journey? A personal trainer. A dietician/nutritionist? A wellness coach? A life coach? What worked and didn't work?

I have not.

I did take advantage of the free sessions with a personal trainer that were offered when I joined the gym, but it was clear in the interview that the idea that I didn't want to speed up my weight loss was incomprehensible. The first of the two sessions jumped all over the place, pushed on some things, slacked on others, and left me seriously sore in the glutes for three or four days, during which I couldn't do as much. The second session I just about passed on, but instead took control and asked for specific things (such as stretching options and about strengthening the calves, quads and hamstrings).

I've been planning to hire a personal trainer close to the end of this year or early next year to help me in changing up my current weight routines, spot me through some benchmark lifts, and coach on form for some of the free weight exercises I could do instead of machines.

I've considered a nutritionist, but at this point I've come so far with nutrition tracking that I feel it would be a waste of time to try to cover which foods I choose not to eat, taste preferences and the like - but without that discussion all I'd get was generic recommendations that I could get on numerous websites.

(Ultimately, I'm a scrooge. I don't like paying someone else to give me information that I could have simply spent some time looking up.)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SPARKFRAN514 10/9/2012 11:49AM

    I have to agree that it seems funny to pay for something you can search for free and put together a plan. I do enjoy my time with a personal trainer i am lucky i have a trainer that listens to me when have questions and when she has a exercise that I can't get she fixes so I can she reminds me it not how many you do but how well you do the few you do. before we began training together she wanted to know what my goal was we set long term 6mos med term 3 mos and short term what i wanted to reach in 30 days. plans are done in writing so i know what to do on non training days. i always enjoy reading your blogs a lot of food for thought and your statement about the news so true I have not watched the news in months. if find its to one sided depending on what station you listen to for your news thank you again for blog emoticon emoticon

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BMCKEOW1 10/8/2012 1:03PM

    I agree why pay for something you can find or do on your own. But at that same point, sometimes we all need a little a help in certain areas. It might not be a bad idea to try both out.

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IMELECTRIC 10/8/2012 11:18AM

    I found reading about the topic seems to do as well as hiring a fitness coach. But then again I haven't been to a gym in 18 years. I read a lot of coach Nicole's stuff and she impresses me. Maybe give the spark coach a shot.

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ILOVEMALI 10/8/2012 11:15AM

    You know enough about this stuff that you could be a personal trainer and a nutritionist!

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SHERIO5 10/8/2012 10:43AM

    I prefer the term thrifty!

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SAINTBETH 10/8/2012 9:59AM

    You are doing great! Why spend money on someone who just tell you what you have already learned?

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SBNORMAL 10/8/2012 6:20AM


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_JODI404 10/7/2012 10:50PM

    I emoticon my personal trainer!! It is money well spent IF you find a good trainer. I had a free session at another gym that was terrible. Just like in every profession... some people are MUCH better at their jobs than others.

I think you will be very pleased with the expanded knowledge you will gain and knowing how to execute correct form is critical.

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