Paradigms: The Way We View The World

6 03 2009

What are paradigms?

The way we view the world is our Paradigm. It is a multitude of habits and thoughts, accumulated over many years, that make up the controlling force that has taken us to where we are today. I have a word picture I use with my students: I use a picture of a map. I tell my students that the way they view any situation is a paradigm or a map. I also say that we have hundreds, maybe even thousands of maps, or paradigms, that drive us and our behaviors. Some of these paradigms are positive and some of these are extremely destructive forces in our lives. When we get into the subject of personal development and goal setting and success mapping, the term paradigm is absolutely essential to understand.  One of the reasons we need a clear understanding of the term paradigm and how it applies in our life is, if we want to make some changes to get where we want to go, we will probably need to change our map, or our paradigm. Very often the place we are today is a result of following the map/paradigm that is built into our subconscious and we wonder why we cannot ever catch a break. It is because we are unknowingly self-sabotaging ourselves. The map we are following was written improperly – and almost always by the influences of others and the environments we are exposed to. This may be where the term guilty by our associations come from. Paradigm paralysis is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome when setting goals and attempting to change our map.

Paradigm paralysis is the perceived inability to change our circumstances. We build an image of how we want life to be and then we look at our current situation and it doesn’t gel with our desire. At once our subconscious mind kicks it out – it’s foreign, it doesn’t belong. Paradigm Paralysis is the inability to see beyond our current model of thinking. We continue to do what we don’t want to do and get the results we don’t want to get. Remember, our paradigm has to do with how we perceive the world. When new ideas or dreams for our lives fall outside of our current paradigm, they are difficult to accept as a possible reality. Sometimes these ideas or desires are so radical, (like creating generational wealth) that we think to ourselves they would be impossible, resulting in paradigm paralysis.  As we learn how to identify paradigms in life and how paradigms change, we can move into paradigm shifting to start achieving the results we really desire instead of results we simply settle for.

An example of this is when I was trying to quit smoking, for the 70th time. I really wanted to quit. I tried and tried and tried – unsuccessfully. I knew the next time I tried again it would be a useless effort but, nonetheless, I tried anyhow. The problem was, I still viewed myself as a smoker. My paradigm, the way I viewed myself, told me I was a smoker and my thoughts and behaviors reflected this. Whenever I tried to quit smoking, that action (or lack of action, in this case) was going against the picture I held of myself. I couldn’t even see myself as lasting more than a few days or weeks without the habit. I had paradigm paralysis.

How do you shift your paradigm?

A paradigm shift is a change in the way one views things. If it is your desire to climb Mount Everest, you must hold the view of yourself as a mountain climber in your mind. Build the picture of the person you want to be and don’t focus on the present results. You can change your paradigm of yourself, your self-image, by changing your focus.

climbers close to 3rd step on Everest
Image by exposedplanet via Flickr

If  your focus is on the current behaviors, you will continue to do the same things that keep you where you are in life. If you continually hold the picture of the person you would like to become in your mind, your behaviors will begin to change and move you in the desired direction.  Remember, a paradigm is a set of rules and regulations. This set of rules and regulations does two things: it establishes and defines boundaries, and it tells you how to behave inside those boundaries to be successful. If you want a different future and you know a paradigm shift is required, you must build the picture the prize – of that future –  in your minds and believe it in your heart and then build specific behaviors to fit that picture.  Get specific and detailed. Start acting as if you have already achieved the prize and let your behaviors reflect that. Let the way you view the world reflect the way you want it to be not the way it has always been.

The way I finally quit smoking cigarettes is I had to change the view of myself. I had to change my paradigm. I had to hold the view of the new me as a non-smoker. I also built a picture of a happy non-smoker, not one of those grumpy ex smokers. I pictured myself in as much detail as possible, as being free from the habit and continually held this thought in my mind. Soon my actions of a smoker wasn’t matching the picture in my mind and the behavior and belief started to change as well. It wasn’t very long till I changed. When I set the date and finally kicked the habit it was easier. I believed myself to be a non smoker and my new habits reflected that. My paradigm shifted.

As Joel Barker says, “Vision without action is just dreaming. Action without vision is just passing the time. Vision with action can change the world”. The way we view the world is determined by our paradigms. Our paradigms can be forces for positive results and sometimes they can be extremely destructive. We can become anything we want to be, make any vision a reality through shifting our paradigms.

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