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Mind Maps: Identity, Beliefs, and Behaviors

By May 21, 2022May 22nd, 2022No Comments
Everyone has a Mind Map, and each one is as unique as a fingerprint. The term Mind Map is shorthand for how you organize your thoughts and form responses. How you organize your thoughts has a lot to do with your identity, and how you respond has a lot to do with your beliefs. Behaviors are responses that take place outside of the confines of your own thoughts and are the outermost representation of our Mind Maps.

What is Identity?

Succinctly put, identity is a network of beliefs weighed against core values that drive behavior. Core values are formed from the time you are born, until about the age of seven. Core values are what you will weigh all of your experiences against to form an opinion about the world, also known as beliefs. These beliefs then ‌influence the actions we take while we navigate the world. 
In this way, identity has two distinct vantage points – external in the form of behaviors, and internal in the form of beliefs. 

If you are aligned to your core values and beliefs, your self-esteem will be higher

What others see is your behavior, which is how they come to form an opinion of what your identity is. What you are personally more likely to be in tune with are your beliefs, which may or may not be accurately conveyed by your behaviors. This is because while many beliefs have a positive or protective origin, the behaviors driven by those beliefs can be maladaptive, or be misinterpreted by people who do not have the context of knowing your beliefs. 
When behaviors become counter-productive, taking the form of things like procrastination, bouts of anger, or avoiding conflict, it is probably time to examine the beliefs that are driving those behaviors.

Figure 1 – A visual representation of a single piece of a Mind Map

Knowing the why behind our behavior allows for us to choose instead of defaulting to a behavior that does not serve us

So, what are beliefs?

Evidence-based beliefs are the interpretation of your accumulated knowledge, experience and association of events that occur within your lifetime. Non-evidenced based beliefs, or as I like to think of them Ghost Beliefs, are beliefs that may have been handed down generationally, or based on misinformation that was not thoroughly evaluated and weighed against the core values of the person who holds the belief. 
The beliefs you create are influenced a great deal by the context in which they were formed, which is the driving force behind the uniqueness of the human experience. Let’s take a look at an example of Person A, someone who doesn’t like dogs.

Figure 2 – Mapping the mind of Person A, who does not like dogs

In this example, Person A can be observed actively avoiding dogs. When Person A is asked to examine why they don’t like dogs, they may realize they hold a belief that all dogs are dangerous and scary. This belief is supported by reinforcing evidence such as news stories about dog attacks and being chased by a neighborhood dog.
Now, there may be evidence to the contrary such as a friendly dog owned by a relative and cute dog videos on the internet, but this evidence is discarded because it does not outweigh the core value that was formed when Person A was a child. That core value was formed around witnessing a police dog attack on live TV, which activated a fear surrounding personal safety.
The context here is that the first real exposure Person A received to dogs was extremely negative
Contrast this example to Person B, who grew up with a family dog from birth, forming a strong bond that could withstand witnessing the same police dog attack on live TV. Person B formed their core value around their positive relationship with their family dog, and each experience afterwards with dogs is weighed against that core value. The result is that Person B will overwhelmingly have a favorable opinion of all dog interactions, whereas Person A will have a negative opinion.

Here is where renovation comes into play

If there’s a behavior or quality about yourself you are ready to change, I have great news for you: it is totally possible. Our brains are adaptable, and completely capable of forging new neural pathways through the practice of mindful intention.
If Person A wishes to lessen their dislike of dogs, they can do so by reexamining their beliefs and making the conscious decision to challenge that belief. This process is a way of breaking away from a default mode behavior in order to craft the quality of life you prefer to have. 

What are Default Mode Behaviors?

Default Mode Behaviors are actions taken without active consideration to why you take them, or if the actions themselves benefit you. Continuing with our example, the default mode behavior for Person A when they are out for a jog and see a dog walker coming their way is to cross the street to avoid the dog. Person A may do this so automatically that they don’t think twice about the action, which limits their exposure to dogs, and potentially puts them in danger in the case of heavy traffic.

Question your programming

Person A can break the default mode behavior by first observing the urge to cross the street. When this urge occurs, they can ask themselves – does the dog look dangerous? Does the owner have a good hold on their leash? Am I carrying sausages in my pockets? If the answers to these questions are satisfactory and the end result is a reasonable sense of safety, Person A can choose to keep jogging and avoid the extra steps and potential dangers of crossing the street.
That being said, Default Mode Behaviors are not all bad. You can leverage the brain’s ability to fire an automatic response to build healthy patterns in your life that will make you feel good about yourself, stay cool and calm under pressure, and serve your overall long-term goals.

We are the sum of our parts

While we can sum up identity in a handful of words, we all know it is both a complex and nuanced concept. There are countless combinations of values, experiences, filters, beliefs and behaviors that make us who we are, multiplied by roughly 8 billion to account for just the human minds on this planet. 

Figure 3 – A larger view of a complete and complex Mind Map

Where do we go from here?

The uniqueness of the Mind Map makes it impossible to design a one-size-fits all approach to helping people overcome their personal and professional challenges. That is the value of a one-on-one partnership with an expert who understands the underlying human infrastructure of our minds. A coaching partnership can help you explore your unique map of the world and drive the changes you desire to make by leveraging what you uncover. This process is a powerful one, and with the help of a coaching partnership, you can harness the power of intention and travel the distance between where you are now and where you want to be in record time.