SOME OF THE FIRST ZOOLOGISTS to study chimpanzees
expected to find brutish apes and were surprised to see peaceful
animals being tender toward each other. Later researchers, expecting
to find peaceful animals, were often shocked to see them hunt
monkeys and tear them limb from limb, or to see an angry male
go on a rampage, sometimes injuring or even killing innocent
chimp bystanders, or to see, for the first time ever in a nonhuman
species, the chimpanzees engage in war.
The truth is, chimpanzees are capable of
a wide range of feelings and behaviors. And that is also true
of humans. Like you, for instance. Defending the life of someone
close to you, you are capable of extreme brutality. When consoling
a child, youre capable of the tenderest care. And everywhere
You dont have a fixed personality.
You change all the time. You are different now than you were
even earlier today.
Any label you hold onto about yourself
a nice person, an angry person, a strong person
is foolish. It will limit you. The label is limiting, and when
you force yourself to act in a way consistent with your label,
you are taking something big and complex and trying to fit it
into a small, simple container. You have to shave off a whole
spectrum of behaviors and feelings youre capable of, some
of which would be useful.
Its like being a carpenter but labelling
yourself only as the kind of person who hammers.
What do you do when you need to saw something? You could grab
a saw and get it done quickly. But if youve limited yourself
to hammering, youll pound away till the sun goes down and
your work will look terrible when youre done.
Dont limit yourself. Dont label
yourself. Youre a human being and youre far more
flexible than you think. Dont block yourself from your
perception of other aspects of yourself. Youre not dominate
or submissive, inquisitive or close-minded, strong or sensitive
youre capable of all them. Like a carpenter using
a wide range of tools, use your full spectrum of personality
where it works best and you will accomplish more, get along better
with others, and be happier.
Dont limit yourself by
giving yourself a narrow label.