[This post is part of a series on The Model — my model for the human emotional system designed for use in leadership, self-awareness, and general purpose professional and personal development — which I find the most effective and valuable foundation for understanding yourself and others and improving your life. If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]
Actively choosing and managing your models — what I call the active view of models — changes how you experience your world. Since you only know your world through your beliefs and models, changing your models effectively changes your world.
You need to know about models — the passive view — to enable doing things with them — the active view. We’ll use the active view extensively in the Method, which shows you how to improve your life predictably, reliably, and consistently.
Let’s start with an overview of some high level points about the active view of beliefs and models.
At the most basic level, you can choose your own beliefs, which means influencing how you perceive your world.
The ability to choose models is immediately useful. If you and I are both in the same situation, but you’re happy and I’m miserable, probably my beliefs are causing my misery. Other factors may influence our moods, but differing beliefs often play a role. If I don’t know I can change my beliefs, I won’t know I can change one of the main things contributing to my misery.
Say we go to a bar, I wanted to talk, you wanted to dance, and the music is too loud for talking. I know plenty of people who would wallow in their misery at being unable to talk, unaware they could change their perspective. I used to be like that.
When you think your models are right, you can’t change them. So not dwelling on your beliefs’ rightness or accuracy gives you freedom. Choosing them instead for how they meet your values help yields incredible freedom. (Again, I am not talking post-modern nothing-means-anything talk here. I’m not saying anything about reality, just how you perceive and understand things.)
Recognizing you can choose your models also means recognizing you have to take responsibility for your life. If someone’s life looks better than yours, you can do something about it. If you don’t, whom can you blame?
More pointedly, anyone anywhere with less resources, or whatever you complain keeps you from what you want, living a life you wish you had means you can attain that life too.
So recognizing you can choose your models results in you taking more responsibility for how well your life goes. You give up the palliative but complacent fallback of blaming others for your problems. For many people, newly recognizing the active view is big. At first it feels like you lose the foundation for many things until you learn you never had it. You just thought you did.
Anyway, back to the freedom you get from choosing beliefs and models based on your values, the complement happens too. Dwelling in rightness or wrongness results in the opposite of freedom — mental confinement. You end up blaming others, which is to say, complacent.
Read my weekly newsletter
On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees