Be Unreasonable

We are programmed to follow the herd.

We often think that if everybody is doing something, we should do it too.

This is especially true if our identities are tied to particular social groups. We take our cues from the group’s social conventions about how to dress, walk, talk, think, what to read and what not to read. We make ourselves fit a very particular mould that allows us to comfortably belong somewhere.

It turns out there is a lot about this behaviour that is due to our natural brain structure.

According to a report by the American Psychological Association, this human tendency to mimic has to do with the mirror neuron system. They conducted an experiment with monkeys and found that when they gave a peanut to one of the monkeys, the neurons that fired in that monkey’s brain were also firing in the monkeys that did not receive the reward but were just watching.

As humans, we imitate as a way to empathise with people. We mimic the behaviour and even accents in an unconscious way to empathise and connect. The mirror neurons are responsible for our ability to read other people’s behaviours and ‘feel’ what they are feeling.

There is also the reality of social proof. We often do what our peers have done before. (This is especially powerful in social media where people often portray a curated version of themselves)

Not only that but we often follow the behaviours of people we identify with. Most of this process is as unconscious as it is natural; we go about our days without realising how much of our behaviour is adapting to our environment and its triggers.

This natural tendency has very important survival purposes. We learn to copy the behaviour of our parents and guardians from a very early stage. That’s how we learn a language and pick up certain personality traits. Mimicking is intrinsic to how we operate in the world. We get a new job and we quickly find a way to ‘fit in’ to figure out how things are done there and to learn quickly so we can belong to that group. It’s simple survival and it makes sense.

However, if you are anything like me, you probably want to live a full, authentic life and not surprisingly, your mirror neurons are getting in the way. They are making you behave like the 99% of the world.


“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

George Bernard Shaw


Growing up, we assume that if we learn the rules of the game and do what we are told, we will get where we want to go. But in reality, the system is not built for you. It’s built for itself. The rules are there to ensure the system’s survival and to ensure order and preservation. The rules are certainly not there to help you outgrow the system. (By system I refer to all the institutions that govern societies and individual behaviour)

 We limit our ideas of what is possible based on our previous experiences and understandings. Our current reality is limited by our imagination.


Albert Einstein said: the definition of insanity is continually doing the same thing but expecting a different result.
If you want to massive change in your life, you must look at the things you do on a consistent daily basis and start from the smallest daily actions that hinder your growth.

Look at someone who represents the opposite of where you want to be, study his/her habits and decisions, look at how they see the world and what they make of events. Think about how you could be exactly the opposite by acquiring the opposite attitudes and mental frameworks.

Then, look at someone who is living the life you wish you were living. Study them, learn how they think and why, ask them questions if you can, model their behaviour. What are their daily rituals? You will soon realise that they don’t do things the way most people do. You will find they have very specific habits that they rarely deviate from. These small habits make the core of what makes them who they are.

In Neuro-linguistic Programming, this technique is called Modelling, and it is used to anatomize the behaviour of the most successful performers in different industries.

To model the behaviour of someone that is getting the results you want to start with the following:

  1. Observe the behaviour. What is the person doing, How is the person doing it, Why is the person doing it.
  2. Understand the Values and Beliefs. From observing the behaviour of the person, make a list of the beliefs and values they must have that would match their behaviours.
  3. Visualize yourself in their position. Now that you understand more about the behaviour and what lies beneath it, imagine yourself in the person’s  shoes. Notice what makes you feel uneasy or uncomfortable or fearful. These are clues for areas where you might need to overcome limitations. They might be around your current belief system or around a lack of experience. Make notes about this.
  4. Based on your Insights on the previous step, ask yourself, How can I be more______?, How can I learn more about_______?, What would it take for me to get those results?

The deeper you go here and the more you understand what is the difference between the person that is getting the results you want and yourself, the better you will be able to create a plan to start modelling your life after them, and the quicker you will begin to see results of your own.

I love this quote from Paul Allen’s book, Whatever you Think, Think the Opposite:

“It’s not because you are making the wrong decisions, it’s because you are making the right ones. We try to make sensible decisions based on the facts in front of us. The problem with making sensible decisions is that so is everyone else”

One of the top regrets people have at their deathbed is not having taken enough risks, so don’t be afraid to rock your boat!


The things you do on a consistent basis define who you are and who you will become.If you want to make big changes in your life start by changing the small negative habits that keep your reality as is.


Features Gif by TylerDurden

Diana Simpson Hernandez

Designers for Humanity

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