Talking About Self-Generation: Reframing Self-Talk to Increase Autopoiesis

In the Mishlei the author of Proverbs states: “As a man thinketh, so is he.” This sentiment is also found across many other world religions, is a basic presupposition of psychoanalysis and is being verified by research in the neurosciences. Indeed, how we use language, logos, to understand ourselves, others and the world helps create the parameters for how we define ourselves. History sets an additional set of limits, often out of our direct control, however from the vantage point of the self, the individual has incredible, almost magical power – for logos is not just words but an entire way of perceiving oneself within the world.

Too often our self-identifications and familial or culturally inherited assumptions can result in the creation of behavioral symptoms that, while recognized and seen as inhibitive to our heart-felt desires, seem outside of our control. In such contexts, people will refuse their own agency in the causal chain of such maladaptive behaviors by claiming “That’s just how I am” or “I can’t help it.”, totally unaware that in classical Greek and Roman times, someone might have similarly said that they were possessed by a god or goddess.

In a journal, divide a piece of paper into two with a line and write down some of the aspects of your self that you wish to improve on the left hand side. After spending some time to examine some of the values that you currently hold which play a role in the manifestation of these reaction and habits, write down their opposite. Try to be as general as possible. For example, say you find your happiness and ability to enjoy situations limited by other people’s lack of adherence to your standards of behavior, fashion, or some other aspect. The inverse of this generalized would be to not be judgmental, to simply accept others as they are.

After you have completed this you now have a general outline of the ways in which you can start creating yourself into being a happier, healthier person. However, do not feel the need now to wholly reform/rephrase your self over night. Attempting to do so will overwhelm you and very quickly the past habits, behaviors and internal language will return. Freud called this the repetition compulsion. Instead, pick one and make a commitment to stick with it for a period of time. Doing so not only gives you an easy win, something which should be embraced if one wants to alter habits of thought as from these it’ll be easier to scaffold on larger changes, but as this small change will begin to affect other in ways you can not immediately foresee. As you begin to become comfortable with this, commit yourself to another self-edit. What you will soon begin to notice is that your consciousness will begin to spend less time correcting itself in situations that once caused upset or anxiety and the re-organization of your self-assemblage will result in your feeling increased satisfaction. The journal you keep to write down these transformations, regardless of how banal the outside appearance is, inside will begin to give the impression of a magic tome. After all, with only your intent, a few words and their voicing through your mind and body, you can enact sorcery on your self.