Read Time: 10 minutes
“People don’t have ideas. Ideas have people.” -Carl Jung
An idea has you. It is more a story than a single idea, conscious or unconscious, it guides your goals, desires, and actions.
The crux of each of our stories comes down to what game, behavior or story we learned as a child that attracted love or avoided pain. We learned it early, we learned it pre-verbally, and it grows with us our entire lives. (The nuances of this fills hundreds of books but I believe this is a good enough summary to take pragmatic action.)
The most significant event on the journey of self-development is realizing what story you are unconsciously possessed by, because it is from this moment that you can begin metaprogramming a new story.
Consciously creating your new story is the essence of Metaprogramming. We don’t get to choose whether or not we are possessed by a story. But we can choose what kind of story we’re possessed by.
“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” -Nietzsche
Metaprogramming our story begs a question, what is the ideal story to tell ourselves?
This is a huge question that I don’t have a complete answer to. It is the ultimate goal of pragmatic philosophy, psychotherapy, and parenting, but there is one guiding characteristic I’d like to focus on: Suprapersonal Goals.
Every story has a protagonist who has a goal. You are the protagonist. This life is your story.
Due to the pressures of evolution, most goals are unconsciously focused on attaining social status or successfully breeding.
A suprapersonal goal is a goal that transcends the needs of the individual. Abraham Maslow would call it “transcendence.” He considered this the highest type of desire an individual can have. It is a desire to help others self-actualize.
We all are possessed by a core story. We can metaprogram our story to the extent that we can craft a meaningful, memorable, and motivating suprapersonal goal. This post is going to cover a scientific guide to creating a “sticky” suprapersonal goal.
A sticky suprapersonal goal helps us transcend the insignificant daily data deluge. It makes us exceptionally directed, focused, and fulfilled.
A Scientific Guide to Creating a Suprapersonal Goal
Our suprapersonal goal is an idea. Ideas, like physical objects, seem to obey certain laws or principles.
Made To Stick is a book about making ideas sticky. Written by Dan and Chip Heath, it offers 6 scientifically validated principles to make an idea interesting and memorable by leveraging certain aspects of human cognition (the way we process information).
The book is intended for marketing and advertising, but it can be applied to our own cognition, because, who do we talk to the most? Ourselves.
We can leverage this science to create a sticky suprapersonal goal. If we can optimize our Suprapersonal goal, we optimize our decision making, and that optimizes our life.
The goal for the rest of this post is for you to sketch out your current story and use the 6 principles to extract out of it a sticky suprapersonal goal.
To do this, I’ll outline the 6 principles, then I’ll show you how you can start to uncover your story. Then, with my story as an example, we’ll refine it through the 6 principles to extract our personal philosopher’s stone; our suprapersonal goal.
We’re practicing cognitive alchemy.
The Six Principles
These are the 6 principles, I will go over them in detail when I start filtering my story through them.
To uncover some of your story, (and some is the best most of us can ever hope to uncover), is to ask yourself what your life purpose is. Once you answer, start asking why. With each answer, dig deeper and deeper. You’ll know you’re making progress when you start getting uncomfortable.
Erick, what is your life purpose? I want to help people heal themselves.
Why do you want to help people heal themselves? I feel guilty when I see suffering that I think I can help fix.
Why do you feel guilty? (lol, I’m already feeling uncomfortable) I feel guilty because, as a kid, close family members seemed to suffer while life seemed easy and enjoyable for me. And I became invested in figuring out how I could help them suffer less.
Why do you feel you felt invested in helping them? I think a game I figured out early in life is that if I help people, they’ll love me. And I think it is a game I am addicted to now.
You will likely need to ask more “whys” than this because I’ve been digging for a long time. Try to be honest with yourself, avoid making up a story that sounds good to you.
As a rule of thumb, this “why” thread ends with the adaptive strategy you learned at a young age to either attract love or avoid pain. Expect to dig 5 to 7 “whys” deep.
Once you feel you’ve dug deep enough. Take 5 minutes to write out what you’ve uncovered into a story. Don’t over think this. Just get something to work with.
My chosen life purpose is to help people heal themselves. I understand that the base desire behind this drive is my need to feel special and to be loved. In order to contain the potential ego inflation that comes with this kind of work, I prefer writing over working in person. And because I know I’m going to die, I prefer to create a scientific system of thought instead of entertainment and seminars. So, the life goal is to create a systematic school of thought that can be experimentally compared to other therapies to determine efficacy.
1) Simple: Get To The Core
There is a single core message in your story. Whittle down what you’ve written until it is a single sentence. Cut any word that isn’t required. Look to proverbs as examples. (Jung’s quote at top is almost a perfect example.)
I want to create a scientifically rigorous therapeutic philosophy.
Eh, thats close.
Metaprogramming will be a scientifically rigorous therapeutic philosophy.
One way to think about your core message is to imagine the fragmented aspects of your psyche as a large company. In order for the company to function well, there needs to be an unflinchingly clear vision of the mission. This clear mission allows any employee a decision-making schema. This decision-making schema is what we want for our psyche.
For example, my core message cuts away interest in therapeutic techniques that are currently unfalsifiable because that wouldn’t be scientific.
The original meaning of the word “decide” meant “to cut off.” If we want to become something significant, we have to cut away a lot of potential selves.
“If you chase two rabbits, you will catch neither.” -Russian Proverb
2) Unexpected: Surprise
As evolved animals, we automatically gave our attention to something if it broke a pattern. For example, you currently are running a subconscious schema of the room you are in. If the Kool-Aid man burst through the wall, you wouldn’t be reading this sentence. That’s a broken pattern.
That is the power of surprise, it attractions attention. There is something surprising about your core message. If there wasn’t, you would never have been attracted to it.
The foundation of my core message rests on something I discovered called Bibliotherapy. To keep it concise, there are rigorously tested examples of dramatic therapeutic healing via a patient only reading certain books. No therapist had to be present. This changed my life.
If I can string together the right words, I can exponentially increase the number of people I can help.
3) Concrete: Help Yourself Understand And Remember
We are more likely to remember anything if we can link it to something concrete. Concrete means something that can be experienced by the physical senses. Analogies and metaphors get their power from their concreteness. Leverage this to make your core message sticky.
I chose to focus my efforts on alleviating mild and moderate depression. Depression isn’t concrete, but the scientific tools clinical psychologists use to measure depression are.
But if I had to create a metaphor, I’d offer: You can think of the individual human nature as a tree, and our conscious mind as a gardener. How we tend to the tree can improve or inhibit the growth of the tree. Metaprogramming is the process of the gardener trying to understand how best to care for the unique tree it has.
4) Credible: Help Yourself Believe
This is a fascinating principle. The human capacity to believe seems infinite. You’ll need to understand your unique belief metrics to utilize this principle. I’d like to offer though, if you want the majority of intelligent people to believe in your core message, logic and science seem to be the most powerful persuaders.
I grew up without a religion. Sometime in high school science became my dogma. I’m a rationalist at heart, (but not entirely. Thank you psychedelics). So, for me, to make my core message believable, I want to test it empirically.
I aim to create a tool that will be empirically tested against standard forms of therapy. I want it to be the most effective (hello ego). And I will use the data to refine and improve my tool.
5) Emotional: Get Yourself To Care
Motivation wanes. Knowing and connecting to the emotional aspect of your core message revitalizes you. Research into how people donate to charities has revealed that people connect emotionally to stories about individual people, not an abstraction or statistic. The emotional appeal links to the next principle, so my example for this section will weave into my example for the next section.
6) Story: Get Yourself To Act
Stories get us to act. The culmination of Made To Stick is that stories are the most powerful ideas. Their inherent structure seems to make them sticky, and their nature is to get humans to act. Think about that for a moment. Every story conveys human (or anthropomorphic) action and the consequences of those actions.
Create the story that embodies your core message.
I’ve been talking about the things I write on this site for years. I’d offer my advice to friends and family whenever they would let me. I couldn’t get almost any of them to change.
The genesis of this blog was to document my psychedelics trips, and it slowly grew into what it is now. I’ve been writing and podcasting for close to two years now and an interesting thing happened.
My mom, incognito, had been reading and listening to my content. For some reason, it was easier for her to absorb my information without my egoic flesh suit yapping in front of her.
Over the course of two years, my mom went from taking multiple medications a day to taking none. She walks 10-15 miles a day, has almost finished reading Ulysses and is currently writing short stories.
One day she told me that reading my blog and listening to my podcasts were the catalyst for this change, and it was one of the most significant moments of my life.
The person I owe my life to, who happens to be the same person who’s sadness during my youth shaped me into who I am today, experienced the effects of bibliotherapy.
Writing this seems to have attracted dust into both my eyes. It’s emotional, it’s sticky, it’s motivating.
We are unconsciously shaped by a story we have been telling ourselves. We can metaprogram that story by creating a compelling goal. The most compelling goal is a supra personal goal. And there are scientific principles to make our suprapersonal goal more compelling.
We need to identify the core message. We need to make it simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and a story.
Uncover your story. Find its core message. Articulate what is counter-intuitive about it. Create a metaphor that represents it. Determine what will make it credible. And find or create the emotional story that will carry you.
Share Your Story
I’d love to read your story or core message. Yall’s comments give me life.
Thank you for reading. Happy Metaprogamming and namasteezy.