Set fire to your old self

Portrait, Woman, Face, Black and White

“You don’t know anyone at the party, so you don’t want to go. You don’t like cottage cheese, so you haven’t eaten it in years. This is your choice, of course, but don’t kid yourself: it’s also the flinch.

Your personality is not set in stone. You may think a morning coffee is the most enjoyable thing in the world, but it’s really just a habit. Thirty days without it, and you would be fine. You think you have a soul mate, but in fact you could have had any number of spouses. You would have evolved differently, but been just as happy.

You can change what you want about yourself at any time. You see yourself as someone who can’t write or play an instrument, who gives in to temptation or makes bad decisions, but that’s really not you. It’s not ingrained. It’s not your personality. Your personality is something else, something deeper than just preferences, and these details on the surface, you can change anytime you like.

If it is useful to do so, you must abandon your identity and start again. Sometimes, it’s the only way.

Set fire to your old self. It’s not needed here. It’s too busy shopping, gossiping about others, and watching days go by and asking why you haven’t gotten as far as you’d like. This old self will die and be forgotten by all but family, and replaced by someone who makes a difference.

Your new self is not like that. Your new self is the Great Chicago Fire—overwhelming, overpowering, and destroying everything that isn’t necessary.”

~ Julien Smith, The Flinch

You can buy Julien Smith’s book: The Flinch@ Amazon for free.  “A book so important we refuse to charge for it.” Julien Smith has delivered a surprise, a confrontation, a book that will push you, scare you and possibly stick with you for years to come. Julien Smith is a New York Times bestselling author and speaker who has been involved in organizing online communities for over 15 years, from early BBSes and flashmobs to the social web as we know it today. Along with being the co-author of Trust Agents, one of the social web’s most recognized books, he is a contributor to GQ, Sirius Satellite Radio, Cosmopolitan, the CBC, and more. Julien’s work is often about leaning into discomfort and pain, into self-examination and discipline, intending both to provoke and unbalance. The lessons from The Flinch came from self-defense professionals, security experts, weightlifters, parkour practitioners, and more.  (I’ve downloaded the book.)

Image Source: Black and White. Quote Source: Rabbit Howls

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  1. Yes, this is a Kindle download for sure…The thoughts are provocative, not necessarily defining personality in a concrete way, yet affirmatively stating what it is not. The idea of self-immolation (figuratively speaking) is so powerful, the process of rebuilding one’s self from the inside out..Thanks for the recommendation..


    • Yes. Provocative. A kick in the pants. A get up and go. I found his words to be powerful. Let’s see if his book lines up. I’m looking forward to it. (Hope the trailer isn’t better than the movie.)


      • Laughing – me too. Although even if all the book offers up is the ‘trailer’ you quoted, it still provided food for thought – and yes, a swift kick in the pants too.


  2. Very thought provoking passage, David. I will look out for the book.


  3. Here’s a case where there is something for nothing. Although the cost is in the reading! Good post, David


  4. I now have a new question to ask myself when I say no, or perhaps yes. Is this a flinch, an attempt to stay in my comfort zone? Book has been downloaded .. thanks for the recommendation.


  5. Reblogged this on What I see, what I feel, what I'd like to see… and commented:
    Thanks for sharing this, David…


  6. Thanks for the tip I will check it out..happy Tuesday David


  7. Thought provoking – and that’s good. But I like myself. I accept my fears and limitations as long as I have my good stuff. I don’t regret my level of success. I’m happy with. Whatever I’ve achieved. I like who I am. If I learn to do things I thought I couldn’t or break habits I’d be better off without it will be ME that does it, not a rebuild after a disastrous fire. Fire does purify but we protect our houses from it.


  8. BTW you choice of image/illustration is perfect as usual.


  9. What an intriguing book! Great post as always. Keep on going.


  10. You’ve got me thinking.


  11. David,

    Nothing could be more inspiring- nothing more difficult. Auden said “we’d rather be ruined than changed.”

    But still, each moment is a fresh beginning. And the match is in my hand.



  12. What’s really been special about this blog is communicating with people I hardly know. One of the rules of this contest is to nominate other blogs that mean so much to you. It’s really an honor to have been nominated Pat. Thank you so much! Blogs I nominate
    ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award

    Liz Blackmore- little box of books.

    David Kanigan, Lead, learn, Love

    Hungry girl-you get a low fat recipe everyday!

    The Kovies-Pondering blessings-onememory at a time

    Christie Pepper, Cookie momma’s blog

    Christian Mahail- a writer who is terrific and very young!


  13. Alex Jones says:

    Whilst I was away from blogging I noted how all things are in a cycle of destruction and renewal, which appears to be how life works. I note its snowing on your blog 🙂


  14. I like the challenge. Don’t know that the treachery change process is fully appreciated in his words, but nothing starts without an incentive. He’s done that.


  15. I believe this time Allah Almighty chose you to send me HIS message – STOP FAKING IT SONIA and GO FOR IT! =) We all need such words to move forward.


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