This was posted as a reply in a friend’s journal and I wanted to save it for myself.
I wrote this not long ago about belief systems and how they come to be, and how they change over time. I think belief systems are an important part of who we are.
I really do think that we can change who we are by deliberate effort. Haven’t we all tried to emulate someone we admire, in an effort to be more like them? Most of the time, however, we are reacting to things happening around us, and we spend very little time thinking about how we should react. We just act.
I think the key to changing yourself is to imagine the new you. Spend time observing people who have the traits you want to have, and imagine yourself with those traits. Think about how the New You might do things differently. Imagine yourself doing things the way the New You does.
About the time I graduated from high school and entered the working world, I decided that this “shy, loner” person was not who I really wanted to be. I wanted to be able to meet people I didn’t already know and talk to them, just strike up a conversation. I wanted to be able to fit in comfortably in a crowd.
At first it was like role-playing. I would just pretend to be that person. But once I got a taste for it, I was hooked. It became easier, and more natural, and eventually I realized that the Old Me just hadn’t put in an appearance at all for a few months. Just like that, I was done.
It wasn’t a complete renovation.. the New Me and the Old Me were both aspects of the Real Me. I still enjoyed the same things, had the same beliefs and values, etc. But it was a definite facelift.
Don’t underestimate the power of role-playing. Role-playing can be therapeutic! People don’t often want to play characters or roles that are basically themselves, but often they end up doing exactly that. How would *I* react if *I* were facing this game situation? That keeps a new roleplayer busy for a while, if there is a lot of world to explore, but the real challenge and real fun of role-playing is to play someone you aren’t, and imagining what it is like to be that person. Role-playing where you imagine that you are someone you want to be is good therapy, and good practice. “Trying on” the New Me was an important first step toward becoming that person.