Q. It seems although Coleridge has Keats on a leash, it is Coleridge who is the more malleable of the two. What I mean is: it seems the more information you acquire without proper curation, the more beliefs you develop, which when mixed with imagination can spawn fear and anxieties. It is for the seemingly "credible" reason of preservation that Coleridge stifles Keats.  

So we wanted to ask what you think about controlling the information Coleridge is exposed to as a means for allowing Keats to shine?

A. So, is Coleridge more malleable? If by malleable you mean impressionable, easily influenced... then yes, absolutely! Coleridge, being primarily concerned with comfort, certainty and control, and especially what others think, is always on the lookout for new information from the world to help him strengthen his identity and bolster feelings of conformity, safety and security.

It's really strange because, to your very astute point, Coleridge will believe information that even makes him feel badly; e.g. guilty, anxious, fearful, etc. And why is that?

Psychologists use a term "motivated reasoning" to convey that people will come to believe what they "desire" to believe. My last book on belief was based on that premise. There are some experts who find fault with that concept. They argue that no one would desire, or be motivated, to feel bad.

That seems to make sense, until you realize that people would rather be safe and in control than happy. So signals and information that hint that my "self"—especially my social identity and worldly security—is being threatened are assimilated, mixed with our imagination, and then used to form beliefs and actions to protect that identity. And it's those actions that suppress or annihilate our inner voice, our potential and true desires... Keats!

So, should we therefore "curate" the information that Coleridge is exposed to in order to prevent his power over Keats? If you can, absolutely. That's why we emphasize finding your "scene," an environment that opens your mind to possibilities, with people who will help bring out your Keats and suppress Coleridge. You should also stop consuming media that empowers Coleridge. Most of that information is pragmatically useless to you as an individual.

And in cases where you simply can not control the stimuli and information that you are exposed to, you need to understand it and let it flow over you. This is especially difficult when it comes directly from others in your life. But you must recognize what it's intended to do, and that's to keep you in your place... conforming to a particular script.

It's sad, really. Most people's potential for growth, deep connection, and joy are quashed by their fearful Coleridge voice, who is much more concerned with preserving the status quo than with living fully and passionately. It takes courage to be Keats! But life is meant to be lived, right?!

Comment