The Conquering Instinct, Part 1
Reprogram your thoughts
My name is Micah Jonah Killian. Recently, I’ve learned about affirmations and mantras, things that you say to yourself to essentially reprogram your thoughts. Typically, mantras are compressed versions of affirmations. You may repeat affirmations several times a day, and you may repeat mantras many times when faced with a challenge you are trying to overcome. For example, someone who is trying to overcome feelings of fear may, when faced with a challenge that is frightening to them, repeat something like, “Mighty”.
What’s interesting is that very intelligent, successful people recommend affirmations and mantras. Scott Adams, famous for his Dilbert comics, writes in How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big,
Affirmations are simply the practice of repeating to yourself what you want to achieve while imagining the outcome you want.
In Gorilla Mindset, former lawyer, journalist, film director, author, and mindset expert Mike Cernovic talks about how to use affirmations and matras to improve one’s “self-talk”,
Positive self-talk can come in the form of affirmations or mantras. An affirmation can be a sentence, paragraph, or even a full page of conversation you have with yourself. A mantra tends to be shorter, usually a word or two. When writing your mantra, imagine the person you want to be. Visualize it. Repeat your affirmation or mantra as often as you need to. Many people begin their days with one or both, and others use them when under stress.
Dan Pena, wealthy and dynamic businessman, author, and self-improvement coach, said in a Youtube interview with London Real that he has 19 affirmations, gives an example of one of his affirmations,
I am excited every day in enhancing Sally Hall, the love of my life, my wife, be all she can be, in her engaging with something that scares her every day.
Every person’s affirmations and mantras are different because everybody has their own needs and desires, their own weaknesses, strengths, and way of expressing their ideal self.
Born with an Affirmation
Affirmations and mantras have been on my mind lately, but something I’ve thought about recently is my name. My name is Micah Jonah Killian. Over the course of my life, how many times do you think I’ve thought about, wrote, said, read, or heard my name? Perhaps 10s of thousands of times. What’s interesting about names is, like affirmations and mantras, they can act as reminders. Every name, like very affirmation, has a meaning. If we know the meaning of our name, and we allow ourselves to be reminded of its meaning from time to time, we can subtly change our behavior. It can also provide food for thought.
My first name, Micah, comes from the Hebrew Mikha, which is itself an abbreviation of Mikhael, meaning “One who is like God,” or “Who is like God?” It’s a declaration, “I am like God.” It is also a description, “This is someone who is like God.” It is also a question waiting to be asked, “How do I be like God?” It is an expression of my parents’ desired outcomes for me, “I hope this boy will be like God some day.”
My middle name, Jonah, means “dove”. In western culture, doves have long been associated with peace and calm. There is a story in the Bible about a guy named Jonah. God told Jonah to go talk to a city about some public policy issues. Jonah wasn’t interested in any of that nonsense, so he got on a boat with some other dudes to get the hell away from everything. As it happens, their peaceful adventure is interrupted by a storm. Jonah ended up telling the other dudes that they were getting hit by the storm because of him. He told them to throw him overboard. They didn’t like the idea, but they did it anyway. The storm ended and Jonah got eaten by a big ol’ fish.
After spending a considerable period of time inside the fish, contemplating life, the fish spits Jonah out onto land. He decided he was gonna do what God said and have a word with the city. The story is primarily a story about being more optimistic and facing the responsibility to be a better person. People can change. You can change. I can change. Changing myself is the key to finding peace of mind and changing the world around me.
My father often read bedtime stories to me. The story of Jonah and his adventure is one story I remember clearly. He would make a loud eating noise at the point in the story where Jonah gets swallowed by the fish.
My last name, Killian, as I was told, means, “little and warlike”. According to some short Google searching, the name has two possible meanings. One meaning is “little church”, and the other is “little war”. A bit of a contrast to the whole dove imagery.
So that’s me, the little and warlike dove, and I’m inside the belly of the fish, contemplating what it means to be like God. That is the affirmation passed on to me by my parents.
Peace and War
Life is complicated. We often have to keep in mind, and act upon, two contradictory ideas. Peace and war are both important parts of the human spirit that we need to integrate into ourselves. In my own life, I know that aiming to create a peaceful environment around me is important, but at the same time, it is sometimes necessary to engage in short-term conflict to gain long-term peace. There is a time for peace, and a time for war. Knowing what time it is and how to properly measure out the right dose of aggression is a constant challenge.
And that is especially true for me because I am highly competitive and passionate. When I set out to do something, I like to do a good job (hence why I took the time to look up quotes, link to videos, and research the meaning of names for this blog). When it’s time to put some effort in, I go all in. When it’s game time, I play to win. When it’s time to fight, my eyes see red. I want to feel strong. Feeling strong in many cases means being right. When I feel my strength is being tested, my lizard brain has just one word in mind: Fight. That conquering instinct in me is hard to turn off sometimes. But, in order to wield that instinct like a tool, first I need to conquer it.