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  • mono 1:37 pm on November 23, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Growth, , , , , , Struggling   

    There are no short cuts 

    Eric Hoffer, in his book “Reflections on the Human Condition,” writes, “People who cannot grow want to leap: they want short cuts to fame, fortune, and happiness (47).” For Hoffer, life lies in the ability to grow, that is, in the ability to learn and continue learning. The less attuned you are to the importance of the growth-process, the more you will struggle with outcomes that aren’t to your liking.

    No great undertaking that you embark on will be easy. There are no real short cuts. If you take a hard look at how you were able to achieve something great, you will probably find that it was not an easy process.

    Eight years ago I began learning the Japanese language and now, eight years later, I am still a perpetual beginner. My use of the language how gotten me to great places (at least great in terms of where I wanted to go). Nonetheless, it has never been easy. Mistakes were made and plenty of embarrassing moments happened. The fear of not knowing how to “go on” in conversation or getting caught up in assignments or conversations that suddenly hurtle out of my comprehensive range happen all the time. I’m perpetually struggling to catch-up and tune-in. I know, from this first hand experience, this first-hand struggle, that anyone who speaks, reads, or writes Japanese “fluently,” went through countless hours of preparation and struggle. There is no way to short cut yourself to fluency in a second-language.

    Developing your capacity to grow and learn is necessary if you want to change who are. An adult attitude of “I know it all” will constrain and limit your vision. Again, think about learning a foreign language. There will always be things that you don’t know and there will always be situations that you are not 100% equipped to deal with. You must stay in the learning-mode as much as your capacity allows. The paradox here is that the more you learn, the more you grow and the more your thinking changes. Steer your learning so that it benefits where you want to end up and devote yourself to it wholeheartedly and you’ll be in the stream of growth, the stream of recognizing that if you truly want to achieve something, you’ll have to recognize that there are no short cuts. The more difficult it seems, the more you are growing.

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    • Michael Pick 2:01 pm on November 23, 2008 Permalink

      Nice piece, and a much needed antidote to the hordes of snake-oil shysters peddling their fifteen-second work week, “get rich fast” online sleazebabble.

      Great to hear someone so far along still open to the idea of having a lot more growing to do.

  • mono 1:17 pm on November 23, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Challenges, Difficulty, Goals, Growth, , Kids and Teens, , Meryl Streep, , Music of the Heart, ,   

    Staying the Course: Difficulty Approached 

    Staying the course, or in other words, persevering, can be challenging. At least for me, it is challenging. Hence, one of the reasons why I have failed to write here in quite some time. As with most things that we tend to neglect, we have no “real” reason at all. We get caught up in other ways of doing things and are pulled by the things which we give our time and attention to – to whatever end that may be. Nonetheless, persevering is important in spite of the myriad of reasons (made-up reasons) why one should or shouldn’t stay the course. If you are pulled in other directions, it is best to make sure that you aren’t just playing some game with yourself to compensate for your lack of talent.

    In the film “Music of the Heart,” featuring Meryl Streep as an inner-city music teacher, she says, “You shouldn’t quit something just because it’s difficult.” How true these words ring to me and how often do I see and hear people giving up all around me simply because something is temporarily difficult. If something is difficult, then devote all of your time and attention to that thing and make it not difficult. The more time you spend with it, trying to figure it out, chipping away at it and, in general, practicing it, the less difficult it becomes. Or, even if it continues to be difficult, what is difficult shifts from what you originally perceived as difficult to a different layer of difficulty. This means that you are learning it. Learning isn’t always fun or easy.

    Staying the course of a goal that you set is no less daunting. It may be one of the most difficult things that you embark on.

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    • Michael Pick 2:10 pm on November 23, 2008 Permalink

      Absolutely – I’m really resonating on your frequency today. It’s also challenging for me – I find myself pulled in too many directions, trying to see everything, be everything, experience everything through art, experimentation, existence. A million perspectives, a blinding speed-montage of barely glimpsed fragments.

      It yields fruits sometimes, but equally, as you say, can lead you away from the the things that need persevering with, the things that would grow into so much more than a random pixel-blip grain of beauty. Mountains made of moments in time.

    • jgrefe 7:54 pm on December 9, 2008 Permalink

      Thank you for the replies.
      Staying on course seems to be one of the great challenges.
      Your persistence has certainly seemed to have paid off.
      Keep up the great work.

  • mono 7:52 am on April 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Approach, , , , , , Fluidity, Growth, , Humanist, , Person Centered, Personal, , , True,   

    To Be That Self Which One Truly Is: Carl Rogers 


    “To Be That Self Which One Truly Is” is published in Carl Rogers‘s book “On Becoming a Person.”

    In this essay he provides guidance for opening oneself up to the process-nature of one’s self while relating it to the question: “What are my goals in life?” That is, how are we to realize these goals? How are we to find and live out purposeful lives?

    The Facade

    Rogers wishes to move the client away from the facades of being. That is, to peel off the false faces that may haunt one and to accept oneself as one is. To allow oneself to feel one’s feelings instead of pushing them away. However, I don’t think Rogers is asking us to obsessively dwell on our feelings and to live off of them, but simply to let them emerge and be a part of who we are. In Rogers work, I am reminded of the “Constructive Living” approach as written about by David K. Reynolds in which he, too, calls for a more natural approach to dealing with one’s feelings and getting on with doing what needs doing. However, this releasing of the feelings, this acceptance of the feelings may not be comfortable, it may not “feel good.” You may find that you are weak, that you are scared or that you are over-dependent. But, this is part of the process that you are and letting yourself come to be this changing process is a step toward being the self that you truly are.

    Away from Oughts

    Also, Rogers wishes the client to move away from the “ought” view of oneself. That is, to truly come to see oneself as one is may mean cutting off the expectations that others have of you, the false faces that the others erect for you. In this way, the woman who wants to be a doctor, but has pressure from her family to stay at home all day should come to see the influence of this family-based expectation and move toward being a doctor instead of being the pushed-around self that the family may wish her to be. I think we have all felt the feeling that a certain life situation or a certain job were not right for us or that a new opportunity presented to us should not be taken. Again, moving away from the oughts that others create for us is a step in becoming who one truly is.

    In this way, the idea of “self-direction” comes out and is very important for Rogers. That is, the client needs to confront the influences from others, the fake expectations, the oughts and the should, moving away from them and moving toward how one wishes to be and not how others wish one to be. In short, one becomes responsible for the self that one is creating, the process that one is always becoming. Responsibility is not always easy and in fact, moving away from the groups that exercise control over one’s life may be tremendously difficult and dangerous. However, it is only through this acceptance of process-self that the client may undertake a more responsible, free and healthy existence and, in doing so, move toward a more autonomous and honest life.

    Complexity and Trust

    Moreover, the client should be well aware of the complex nature of his or her self and instead of relishing in the walls of hidden desires, open oneself to the complexity that one is, the labyrinthine self that one never knew one was. In addition, one may come to see the other person as a complex process of becoming as well instead of a fixed static object. That is, a trust in the process-nature of oneself may also open up a newfound view of the other, the other, too, is a process.

    In trusting oneself, a new kind of life may emerge, a life not bound by the strict gaze of others. For example, the great filmmaker Stanley Kubrick developed his own way of making films. He moved out from the strict eye of the others and created fresh and honest worlds, worlds rich in character and atmosphere. Also, the renaissance man Vincent Gallo (despite your opinion of him) has branched out in film, composition, performance, modeling, real estate and painting. The reception of his last film “The Brown Bunny” did not stop him from creating new kinds of art, new modes of being.

    Listening…Ever Listening

    It is important that we listen to ourselves, listen to the true voices that emerge. In the Lacanian world, the voice of the big Other mocks and prods. One needs to truly hear this voice of the big Other, to see the haunting visions for what they are and listen to that other voice, one’s true once-occurent voice. Despite social fragmentation, there are ways in which we can develop ourselves, free ourselves from the threatening parts of ourself that wish to enchain us. One should train one’s ears to listen closely to the movement of the self, to how the self manifests itself and the myriad of tricks that it plays. This may not be easy and this may not be “fun,” but, in the end, it may be absolutely necessary if one wishes to be that self which one truly is.

    Photo by nugunslinger (CC)

  • mono 5:30 pm on April 3, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Growth, , , , , , , Self-help   

    Sensitive Empathy or Spending Time With Carl R. Rogers 

    An old diagram of a male human skeleton.Image from WikipediaCarl R. Rogers provides us with a look at our relationships, with our uniquely human interactions with those around us and with our self-reflective communication (our talk about our talk, our talk to our self). Rogers, in his book “On Becoming a Person,” has compiled many of his essays on self-development, communication, listening, empathy and learning. I originally stumbled across Rogers through Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner’s book “Teaching as a Subversive Activity” and decided to order the recommended Rogers book. Thus far, I have not spent enough time with Rogers in order to be able to make a part of him a part of me. By fleshing out his work, hopefully something of his work will stick with me (and you, too!). In this entry, I will try to give you a brief introduction to Rogers’ work from his piece entitled “Some Hypotheses Regarding the Facilitation of Personal Growth.”

    As his guiding question, Rogers asks: “How can I provide a relationship which this person may use for his own personal growth (Rogers 32)?” That is, Rogers wishes to open a space with the other where the two of them can allow each other to grow as separate individuals while maintaining a space of growth between them. That is, instead of speaking “to” each other, speaking “with” each other. This way of communicating transforms both people involved by its compassionate attempt to achieve transparency with the other.

    The hypothesis that Rogers proposes is: “If I can provide a certain type of relationship, the other person will discover within himself the capacity to use that relationship for growth, and change and personal development will occur (Rogers 33).” But, even as Rogers admits, this question is very open-ended and vague. Thus, he continues by breaking down and fleshing-out what exactly he means. For Rogers, a successful relationship encompasses the following:

    1. Being genuine with one’s self and with the other, which presents a fragile reality to the situation.
    2. A willingness to accept the other on his/her own terms, in all of the other’s unique once-occurring wonder.
    3. A “sensitive empathy” toward one’s self and toward the other, a space where real communication can flourish.

    For Rogers, in using this approach, a state of “transparency” may be achieved. That is to say, a state of openness and understanding between self and other, a breakdown of the social masks that may hinder true communication. Also, Rogers believes that each person has the capacity for positive change and self-renewal, even though it may be buried, repressed or not yet fully realized. Through working with and experimenting with the above mentioned communicative methods, Rogers hopes to help the other develop and bring to life the realizable self-improving capacities.

    As for the outcomes, Rogers writes, “It is my hypothesis that in such a relationship the individual will reorganize himself at both the conscious and deeper levels of his personality in such a manner as to cope with life more constructively, more intelligently, and in a more socialized as well as a more satisfying way (Rogers 36).” Using this as his frame, Rogers provides empirical evidence from case studies and other research as to the efficacy of these methods upon constructive personality change. As Rogers sees it, his proposed findings and communicative suggestions have relevancy not just for those working in psychology or psychotherapy, but for teachers, parents and, generally speaking, human beings in general. As a summary, Rogers provides one (extremely long) and gorgeously structured sentence of hope as to what was presented in this piece and his general mode of thinking in terms of this piece. I will reproduce it here:

    If I can create a relationship characterized on my part: by a genuineness and transparency, in which I am my real feelings; by a warm acceptance of and prizing of the other person as a separate individual; by a sensitive ability to see his world and himself as he sees them; Then the other individual in the relationship: will experience and understand aspects of himself which previously he has repressed; will find himself becoming better integrated, more able to function effectively; will become more similar to the person he would like to be; will be more self-directing and self-confident; will become more of a person, more unique and more self-expressive; will be more understanding, more acceptant of others; will be able to cope with the problems of life more adequately and more comfortably (Rogers 38-39).”

    I would like to spend more time with Rogers and hopefully in the coming months can flesh out some more of his essays as I think they are constructive and useful to read.

    If you like what you read here, please support the work of Carl R. Rogers: Carl Rogers: On Becoming a Person

    • Milgo ahmed 3:17 am on October 5, 2012 Permalink

      True self-awareness great work Carl Rogers

    • jgrefe 10:32 am on March 18, 2013 Permalink

      Thank you!

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