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  • mono 7:52 am on April 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Approach, , , , , , Fluidity, , , Humanist, On Becoming a Person, 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 10:58 am on April 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Feelings, Fluid Process, levels of self, On Becoming a Person, Person, Person-Centered Therapy, , , , , Sensitive Living, ,   

    Person as a Fluid Process (Spending Time with Carl R. Rogers Part 2) 

    Carl Rogers, advocate for Person-centered psychotherapyImage via WikipediaYesterday, I had the pleasure of reading Carl R. Rogers‘s essay “What it Means to Become a Person” from his book “On Becoming a Person.” In this essay, Rogers discusses the idea of “false faces” and “pure culture” while opening up what he calls the “fluid process” experience of personhood. As with my “Sensitive Empathy” post, I will try to briefly elucidate Rogers and, in doing so, hopefully move towards a clear yet brief explication of this work.

    False Faces and Pure Culture

    It seems that we can understand the idea of “false faces” by imagining ourselves at a job interview. Surely, at a job interview the game of revealing/concealing is heavily enacted. That is, if one really wants the job, one must try to play the interview game and win. The face contorts into a forced smile, perhaps the arms sit calmly on the lap and so on. It is as if some foreign presence has overtaken the body and there is a kind of disconnection that occurs in the person. For Rogers, this is the person exercising a “false face.” I don’t think the job interview example is the only time that we play with these false faces, in fact, I would almost say that for most of us interacting at the workplace or around those we don’t know, the false face is used a great deal. Moreover, in some cases it is necessary to employ the false face to some extent and to play the game one must, at points, struggle to control one’s face. However, I think that what Rogers wants to move toward is a peeling off of the false face that emerges in times when it doesn’t have to. That is to say, in times when one should allow oneself to expose one’s true face. This examination of one’s use of social masks may reveal the experience of the overuse of the mask, which is hindering a person from truly becoming his or herself. If one can work to overcome the barriers of false faces, one has the chance to truly shine, to reach that part of one’s self that may be veiled or covered-up. This recognition of and getting in touch with one’s use of “false faces” may be seen as the first step in becoming a person. When one comes to understand this and break out of this shell, the experience of, what Rogers calls “pure culture” may come to fruition. “Pure Culture” can be defined as letting oneself truly feel and be who one is without the overuse of a false face. It should be noted however that this experience may not necessarily be a pleasant one. That is to say, one may find what Rogers refers to as “The stranger behind the mask.” Perhaps, for some of Rogers clients, the breaking down of the mask was terrifying in that it exposed a part of self, which because of its concealed nature, exposed the hidden side of the self, the shadow which has not yet blossomed.

    True Feeling

    Also, Rogers talks about the idea of “letting yourself feel what you are feeling.” What this means is not trying to convince yourself that you feel a certain way, when in reality you feel a different way. Perhaps there are parts of one’s personality that one does not want to admit to, that are shameful or harmful. I believe Rogers would say that one should not create a gap in the experiencing of these feelings but accept them as being a part of the person that one is becoming. He doesn’t talk about acting on the feelings, but simply accepting them as a part of one’s self, as a part of one’s becoming. From this, perhaps one will learn to place more trust in oneself, to see one’s self in a more balanced way, in an honest way. If a person can achieve this kind of self-honesty, this kind of self-nudity, then perhaps the fluidity of the self will be recognized. That is to say, the presence of one’s self not as a fixed object, but as a nexus of possibilities and happenings. It seems that in this it is Rogers aim to allow the client to recognize the becoming-nature of what it means to be a person. The masks that were employed for so long need not exist, that one in fact was the creator of the mask…

    Person as Fluid Process

    What Rogers is moving towards is what he recognizes as “the person as a fluid process” or “a stream of becoming.” Of course, it is difficult for us to keep an awareness of our fluidity in mind at all times in our daily life and I think that Rogers would agree on this, but, it is achievable upon reflection, in times of meditative thinking, wondering and questioning or perhaps on a morning stroll. The recognition that one is a fluid process of becoming may open one’s self to a side of existence that one has denied oneself by the use of “false faces.” One may come to experience the “pure culture” of life, the streaming process of doing, feeling and becoming. One need not be “stuck” with oneself, but may come to accept the changing nature of personhood, accept the fact that the doing of the task is the doing of the task: once completed, there is no more task…it, too, was a process.

    Sensitive Living

    In this way of allowing oneself to feel what one is feeling, one may experience what Rogers calls “sensitive living.” Perhaps this could be understood as the recognition of oneself as an ever-changing process of experiences, situations and possibilities. Or, the experience of one’s person as “a changing constellation of potentialities.” This way of looking at the person allows the person to freely feel and experience life and the myriad of fluctuating situations that occur or that one may enact. This trust and acceptance, for Rogers, is a vital step in the client and, moreover, in the person as such.

    These are observations that Rogers came to realize while in close communication with suffering clients, family, friends and so on and are applicable to those of us who suffer, to those of us who wish to make a change, to realize a new way of living and to strive in our process of becoming. Thank you for reading this and I hope you have found this useful. If you are familiar with Rogers work and wish to further this reading or add your own interpretation of Rogers work, please, by all means do so.

  • mono 5:30 pm on April 3, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , On Becoming a Person, , , , 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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