This Weird Trick Set Me Free, Could It Work For You?

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Caption: Woman wearing veil (image credit)

 

Series: Reaching Your Goals

Written by Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, Intentional Insights Co-Founder and President.

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I’m very proud to be a citizen of the United States. It’s one of the greatest countries in the world. America is a beacon of hope for democracy and freedom for hundreds of millions of people across the globe. Our universities consistently produce ground-breaking research, and our companies drive innovation for the global economy.

 

Yet I’ve always been uncomfortable being labeled “American.” Though I’m very proud to be a citizen of the United States, the term feels restrictive and confining. It obliges me to identify with aspects of the United States with which I am not thrilled. For instance, while to some we may be the beacon of democracy, our own two-party political system leaves a lot to be desired. Democratic systems that permit more than two major parties can be more inclusive of minorities and lead to less extreme policy. In many respects, our current political system can feel stifling for many of its own citizens.

 

I have similar feelings of limitation with respect to other labels I assume. Some of these labels don’t feel completely true to who I truly am, or impose certain perspectives on me that diverge from my own..

 

I recently came up with a weird trick that has made me more comfortable identifying with groups or movements that resonate with me. The trick is to simply put the word “weird” before any identity category I think about.

 

I’m not an “American,” but a “weird American.” Once I started thinking about myself as a “weird American,” I was able to think calmly through which aspects of being American I identified with and which I did not, setting the latter aside from my identity. For example, I used the term “weird American” to describe myself when meeting a group of foreigners, and we had great conversations about what I meant and why I used the term. This subtle change enables my desire to identify with the label “American,” but allows me to separate myself from any aspects of the label I don’t support.

 

Beyond nationality, I’ve started using the term “weird” in front of other identity categories. For example, I teach classes at Ohio State University, in addition to running a nonprofit devoted to helping people reach their goals using science, Intentional Insights. I used to become deeply frustrated when students didn’t prepare adequately for their classes with me. No matter how hard I tried, or whatever clever tactics I deployed, some students simply didn’t care. Instead of allowing that situation to keep bothering me, I started to think of myself as a “weird professor” – one who set up an environment that helped students succeed, but didn’t feel upset and frustrated by those who failed to make the most of it.

 

I’ve been applying the weird trick in my personal life, too. Thinking of myself as a “weird son” makes me feel more at ease when my mother and I don’t see eye-to-eye; thinking of myself as a “weird nice guy,” rather than just a nice guy, has helped me feel confident about my decisions to be firm when the occasion calls for it.

 

So, why does this weird trick work? It’s rooted in strategies of reframing and distancing, two research-based methods for changing our thought frameworks. Reframing involves changing one’s framework of thinking about a topic in order to create more beneficial modes of thinking. For instance, in reframing myself as a weird nice guy, I have been able to say “no” to requests people make of me, even though my intuitive nice guy tendency tells me I should say “yes.” Distancing refers to a method of emotional management through separating oneself from an emotionally tense situation and observing it from a third-person, external perspective. Thus, if I think of myself as a weird son, I don’t have nearly as much negative emotions during conflicts with my mom. It enables me to have space for calm and sound decision-making.

 

Overall, using the term “weird” before any identity category has helped me gain greater agency, the quality of living life intentionally to achieve my goals. It has freed me from confinements and restrictions associated with socially-imposed identity labels and allowed me to pick and choose which aspects of these labels best serve my own interests and needs. I hope being “weird” can help you reach your own goals as well!

 

How weird are you? Only time will tell. Consider these questions as you explore for yourself:

• Do you think using “weird” to manage your identity can help you? Why or why not?
• Where in your life, if anywhere, can you imagine identity management setting you emotionally and mentally free?
• What specific next steps will you take after reading this article?

 

Did you find this post helpful? Support my ability to keep writing on Patreon!

Follow Dr. Gleb Tsipursky:

Disaster Avoidance Expert, Author, and Social Entrepreneur

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky helps leaders and organizations avoid disaster through science-based strategies for effective decision-making and emotional and social intelligence. He is a well-known scholar, entrepreneur, author, speaker, consultant, coach, and activist in these areas – for more information, see his website, GlebTsipursky.com. He runs a nonprofit that helps people use science-based strategies to make effective decisions and reach their goals with the aim of building an altruistic and flourishing world, Intentional Insights. He also serves as a tenure-track professor at Ohio State in the Decision Sciences Collaborative and the History Department researching decision-making, goal achievement, emotional and social intelligence, meaning and purpose, and altruism. He regularly publishes pieces on these topics in prominent venues such as Time, Salon, Psychology Today, The Conversation, The Huffington Post, Lifehack, Elite Daily, Lead Change Group, The Plain Dealer, Alternet, Inside Higher Ed, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and elsewhere. He appears regularly on network TV, such as ABC 6 and Fox 28, radio stations such as NPR and Sunny 95, and online-only media such as podcasts and videocasts. A best-selling author, he wrote Find Your Purpose Using Science and other books, as well as over 25 peer-reviewed articles in academic venues. He does speaking, training, coaching, and consulting for current and future leaders in mid-size and large corporations and nonprofits. Generous support from his patrons on Patreon enables him to focus on public outreach that addresses the fundamental problems and dangerous risks facing our society instead of teaching classess to support himself, and every dollar makes a difference in freeing more of his time for this activism: consider supporting his work! Connect with him via LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, and email him to discuss any aspects of the content he creates, to arrange a media interview, or hire him as a speaker, trainer, consultant, or coach: gleb (at) intentionalinsights (dot) org.

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    • Boy that really helps me the heck out.

    • hai ragione nel '43ma come siete pedanti con gli errori di battitura.Ogni nuova frase deve iniziare con la maiuscola e finire con un punto.

    • Z , które warto polecić do uprawy, przez wzglÄ…d na ich piÄ™kny zapach znajdujÄ… siÄ™ hiacynty oraz nie wszystkie odmiany lilii i narcyzów. Na pewno uraduje PaÅ„stwa informacja iż bylina jaka posiada Å›liczne intensywne wonie to również pÅ‚omyk wiechowaty – jedna spoÅ›ród najbardziej popularnych balkonowych, nieskomplikowana do uprawy oraz fantastycznie kwitnÄ…ca.

    • witaj Natalko wow jaki dyplom superr:-)) oczywiscie przylaczam sie do zyczen dla Sandry a Tobie wspomne ze Pamietam o Tobie wciaz lecz wiecje wpisow kieruje tym najmlodszym:-)) goraco cie pozdrawiam i buziam:****

    • owh.. pantesan.. hihi.. ni aku pake ip lain dulu, takut ga bisa buka lagi hhehe.wah, pantesan nyobain offline access ga bisa2.. nah, klo pake access tokens, update tutorialnya dong mas biar saya belajar hehehe

    • Hey Brett, I don’t want to solicit on the site, I do however have season tickets that I sell all the time as I live in LA. I’d happily offer first dibs to any BN’ers and most likely a discount. Weekday games are usually readily available.

    • to the wee laddie; “Och! Yer name’s Little Willie, eh? I ha’ a little willie but I hav’na see him in ages.”$1150.00 for another piece of pretentious sub-urbanstupidity.Originality is evidently still not a component of Perth’s “Life Style” decision making.

    • Hoi Lovely Hanglar or Sweet Magnolia loverWhat A great card you have made Lovely colors and a sweet image! Thanks you for joining us at the Lovely Hanglar or Sweet Magnolia challenge blog hope to see you next time hugs Riacome and check out my blog and become a follower

    • adorable docs! I can’t wait to see what you’ll pair it up with. It’s a nice color too, not too boring and not too over the top. Good choice. 😀

    • I’m not easily impressed. . . but that’s impressing me! 🙂

    • Le HDR je trouve ça joli quand la technique est maîtrisée , ce sont des choses qui s’apprennent et il est vrai que parfois les résultats sont épatants !

    • The ability to think like that shows you’re an expert

    • That is a hilarious story. Found you on Entrecard and believe I’ll have to add you to my reader. You are evil and I could get some great ideas from you! Men can be sooooo clueless at times!

    • When the Shah was overthrown by radical, Islamic fundamentalists……you mean when jimmy carter withdrew support , just like obama has done with egypt-libya-algeria-yemen now all radical, now all enemies to USA and isreal . Carter was worst president until the usurper took over.

    • My problem was a wall until I read this, then I smashed it.

    • To me this is a meal, not just a salad :-), I wouldn't need anything else, well, maybe a piece of bread…Can I ask you a question? The mozzarella looks yellow in the photo, rather than white. Is it a particular kind of mozzarella?

    • Dreambes, je veux pas te manquer de respect, ou te paraitre condescendant, mais franchement, pourquoi tu l’ouvre? Cette album, Wars of the roses, est plein de bonnes idées, mais c’est vrai, la piste Providence avec ses coeurs c’est mauvais et pas à sa place…et l album dans l ensemble laisse une impression de "j ai raté le c…

    • I'm not an American, nor i live any in western countries or cultures, but I truly like your articles and often on the same side of your opinions. Good job Daniel!.

    • Economies are in dire straits, but I can count on this!

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