Choose A New You

"The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become- because He made us. He invented us.... When I give up myself to His personality, I first begin to have a real personality of my own." -C. S. Lewis

"Who are you?"

People want to know who we really are, but the question "Who are you?" is a bit too personal. So they ask, "What do you do?"

The question usually refers to our work activity and serves as a polite way of getting to know us better because our work influences how others categorize us. But consider this-our work can also influence how we categorize ourselves.

Does the work category adequately represent who we are? From the death camps of World War II, psychiatrist Victor Frankl discovered that we can transcend the level of our "psychic and physical conditions." Even when we feel trapped by our past work or imprisoned in a present job, transformational change is available. Transformation can be seen as an "outside" and "inside" operation. Whereas the outside operation concerns what you do, the inside operation primarily concerns who you are. Both have deep and wide implications. Both require wise responses to stimuli.

Doing What You Choose to Do

Who controls what you do? An important moment for me was the realization that at a certain level, I can choose what I do. I can choose to go to work or not go. I can choose a particular subject to study or some other. Kind of basic. Right? Even as a youth, I was already making decisions that affected the direction of my life. I chose what I did.

A crucial moment for me came when I developed a mental foundation for my ability to choose. I remember learning the S-R theory, which states that if you control the stimulus, you control the result.

Psychologist Pavlov is known for his experimentation with dogs to prove the S-R theory. When the dogs heard a bell ring (stimulus), they began to salivate (response). The stimulus-response predictability became a key part of a theory of human behavior called "Behaviorism."

We do respond in predictable ways to much of the stimuli we face-when we see a police car behind us, we slow down; when we place our hand on a hot stove, we instantly respond without thinking about it. You likely can add examples from your own behavioral tendencies.

We can diagram this type of behavior as follows:

Stimulus > Response

Granted, a stimulus often produces a highly accurate response. But what about the bigger issues of our lives, like choosing our future or becoming the person we really want to be? Are we limited only to an S-R type of existence as some suppose?

I don't think so. Actually, the S-R theory suggests severe limits to our freedom. But surely humans can respond with intelligent choices beyond stimulus-controlled reactions. Although S-R does explain some behavior, it says nothing about our ability to choose a different response. A more accurate description for humans can be described as follows:

Stimulus > Choice > Response