Appreciative Approach to Development part 4: Free-Choice and the Co-Creation of Self
People are endowed with the ability to exercise free will. We are able to decide upon and shape who we would like to be and the life that we would like to lead regardless of our circumstances. Our circumstances then become a backdrop that constantly challenges us to demonstrate our commitment to our chosen way or preferred way of being.
Fundamental to this approach is the conviction that we human beings, through the exercise of free choice, participate in co-creating our emerging selves and over time shaping who we become.
The way that we respond to others, shapes the choices that they make, and that in turn shapes their experience of us and their world. This makes us partners in our co-evolution with others.
Scientists like Daniel Segal are showing what spiritual teachers have also ways know. With time, discipline, perseverance and self-awareness you can change even the most seemingly intractable quality and overcome almost any limitation. The work of Reuven Feuerstein challenges notions of fixed potential based on how people perform on tests. Feuerstein has shown that anybody can learn if the teacher can work out how that particular person learns.
There are three important points to bear in mind that flow out of this conception of personality. The first is that is that people are constantly shaping each other’s emergence of being in a recursive manner. The second is that people can change through choice and more particularly choices that result in them adopting different approaches to themselves, others and the world. Thirdly people can transcend any limitations implicit in view of themselves as being defined by particular characteristics in a deterministic manner.
When that emergence of being becomes entrenched through habits of behaviour, ways of paying attention and construing experience, as well as in the descriptions of others about the person’s expression of being, you have forming of what is described as personality. Consistent behaviours lead to consistent responses, and vice versa. The consistency and seeming stability of experience leads to the belief in one’s own objectivity. This belief in one’s own objectivity and the validity of one’s construction of reality creates a blind spot as to the individual’s participation in the creation their experienced world.
Your relationship with yourself is also a reflection of your relationship with the characteristics and that emerged as part of your temperament and upbringing. Included is what you avoid, deny or do not notice in terms of characteristic and in yourself. Central to your relationship with yourself is your experience and belief in the validity of your own experience and your sense of connection to inner your sense of substance and the veracity of your existence.
These narratives are often the foundation of all the interpretations and assumptions made about that person that follows them through life. “You were a demanding baby”, “you were always difficult” ,” he was a genius at birth” ,“your father has always taken your side”.
The implication of this idea is that by becoming aware and taking ownership of how you create your world, you can actively choose to reshape any aspects of your life in which you would prefer to operate more effectively or experience in a richer and more gratifying manner.
By taking an appreciative approach, you direct you focus to aspects of your own self and the world that gives rise to a more resourceful, enlightened, enriching and empowering view of life.