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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Rejecting a Duel Identity

Published 6/29/2020

Just like many of the other distortions that our brains trick us into believing, the idea that we have two selves, good and bad, hides away our complex ego. 

In today's episode, we're talking about ego and how to get outside of our self-perception when we make a mistake in order to grow and learn. 

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
It's easy to imagine a dual system, a dual sense of identity, the good side, the bad side, the impulsive side of us, and the more thoughtful side. This dual sense of identity is not real. It's only on our perception, and it can change the way we think about how we work as engineers. My name is Jonathan Cutrell, you're listening to Developer Tea. My goal on this show is to help driven developers like you find clarity, perspective, and purpose in their careers. Just like many of the other distortions that our brains trick us into believing, the idea that we have two selves, that we have the good side, the bad side, that Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Hyde, is exactly that. It's a trick, a distortion, a simple way of thinking that hides away the complex realities of our ego. So why are we talking about ego? Why are we talking about dual sense of identity on a podcast for engineers? Well, the truth is, when we look at our code, or when we look at our previous code, we often tend to blame one or the other. We take credit when we believe that we've done something good, and we assign that credit to the good ego. We assign it to who we intend to be. But then when something goes wrong, we don't take the same level of responsibility. That we may not blame our bad selves, but we insulate our good selves from mistakes. We imagine that the mistake is the fault of the circumstance when it's ourselves. But then when we're looking at other people, we imagine that the mistake is the fault of that person. Taking a wider view, we imagine that we can transcend our own ego. In other words, we can get outside of our own sense of identity, our own sense of purpose or worth, our self perception. This is that ego that we're talking about. And when we insulate our own egos from mistakes, when we don't blame ourselves for the bad that we do, but then we turn around and we don't apply the same rules, the same luxuries to our co-workers. We're doing this because we cannot imagine that our co-workers have transcended their own egos. This is, once again, a distortion. This is called the fundamental attribution error. The idea is that we are assigning blame to a person based on who they are, their fundamental attributes, rather than doing what we do for ourselves, considering all of the other reasons, all of the other influences that may have caused an error. Going back to this idea that we have a dual identity, one of those identities is one that we reject that we don't integrate into our thinking. We don't believe that we're going to be late. We don't believe that we will be lazy. We don't believe that those are a part of who we are. And so we assign them. We assign those negative attributes away from ourselves as far away as we can put them. Here's the takeaway for today's episode. Those attributes are just as much a part of you as the good ones. And there's no reason to push away from this. There's no reason to imagine that you can sequester all of your negative attributes, more negative behaviors or bad habits. When we assign those to that second identity, that second sense of self, that we kind of naturally create, that black hole, that is not what we intend to be. When we do that, we're not taking responsibility for the totality of our own actions. And when you do take responsibility for the totality of your own actions, you can actually inspect them. Not all the things that we think are bad behaviors are fundamentally bad behaviors. Some of them are responses to your environment and others are good in the right light. I want to be very clear that there are certainly behaviors that we shouldn't try to portray in a positive light. But the flip side of that, of not being positive about them, is not to reject them or act as if they don't exist. Instead, we can learn from ourselves. If we imagine that our identity is one in the same, no matter if it is positive or negative. Thanks so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. This was a short episode just looking at this idea of a dual identity and how we might reject that to be a little bit healthier versions of ourselves. I'd love to encourage you if you have not yet subscribed to go ahead and subscribe in whatever podcasting app you're using. But even better than that, if you think someone else in your life could benefit from this episode or another episode of Developer Tea, take a moment and send it to them. This is the best way to help other developers find and subscribe to this show as well. Thanks so much for listening. This episode was produced by Sarah Jackson. You can find this episode and every other episode of the show on spec.fm. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and until next time, enjoy your tea.