What is your perspective on yourself?
And even others!
Hello friends and greetings from Tehran,
In this post, we will have a review of the understanding of self. Every outside change has roots within.
In this post:
The emerging self
Self as an object and self as a process
Conclusion: Highlights of this article for a quick review
Think about this question:
Remember a time in your life when your role changed. You may have a promotion in your job, and expectations from you have changed. Or, you may change your entire career and entered a new field. Maybe migrated to another country, or perhaps you have married, have kids, etc.
How do you adapt yourself to the new situation?
What ability do you discover in yourself that helped you successfully adopt yourself?
The Emerging Self
When I started Hamro, my consulting company, It was a transition for me from a freelance coach and facilitator to the role of a CEO. In the “You are the most valuable instrument of change” article, I mentioned we have roles in a social structure. For every role, there are defined expectations:
There are always expectations from the role to be fully operational to get the desired result. For example, being a father, mother, manager, technical leader, doctor, nurse, and even an artist are the roles and positions defined in society. There are expectations from each role, and to fully perform the role, we have to bring our whole self to the position we are holding.
In my new role as a CEO, I had to take care of cash flow, manage the team, sales, and marketing, etc. This position was new for me. I had tested myself in the context of coaching and facilitating, but I had to try lots of new things in the new position. In managing the company, I realized that I'm experiencing new behaviors in making decisions and communicating with co-workers and even customers. I was new to myself with all the right and wrong choices. My knowledge about myself was emerging in a new context.
Being in a new role means new relationships, new expectations, and new experiences. In such new positions, we may learn new things about ourselves. Part of us is like the dark side of the moon. It's there but undiscovered. This self-knowledge is a changing phenomenon.
Become a practitioner and working with groups on change projects is filling a new position. It's highly relational. It's about working with people and help them to change positively and become the best of themselves. It's our inner state that defines the result we get.
It is hard to talk about the continuously effective use of self if we do not allow the changing ground or the relational contact to make us more curious about the bit of the self that is unknown to us. Without doing that, it will be difficult for us to stay curious, non-judgmental, and available to help others to discover the unknown aspect to them. If self is shaped as we make relational contact, then how we work with what comes from these contacts is crucial as we continue to strive to use ourselves at the moment to formulate our work with groups or organizations and to help our clients.
Mee Yan Cheung
To successfully use self in the change process, we need to ponder these questions:
Have we modified and reshaped our sense of self as we have worked with many different client groups and colleagues?
Have we held on to the hardwired self and insisted that is our true self, and used every opportunity to justify our approach to work?
Do we allow the diverse contacts we have had with diverse groups of clients and colleagues to help us realize: "Gosh, these colleagues, clients and/or the client systems are so challenging, what type of mobilization of self needs to happen once I am made aware of what is happening?
By the way, what is my emerging self from such contact tell me about me?"
Successfully answering these questions depends on our perspective about the self.
Self as an Object or Process
Self as (Object) is the result of a mechanical or Newtonian worldview. This world view is about seeing people, organizations, and societies as machines where independent parts work together to attain a result. This definition makes the world predictable, where you can anticipate what will happen next.
Seeing self as an object means:
It's is predetermined
It's controlled externally
It's an independent unit within the social context
It's unchangeable and unadaptable
Seeing self as a process is another perspective rooted in the contemporary scientific approach, which tells us that the world is a complex, adaptive, self-organized living system.
Seeing self as a process thanks to neuroscience studies means:
Our brain is open to change throughout our lifespan.
Self keeps changing and adapting depending on its relationship and situations.
Self has no independent existence, and it's a relational being
In gestalt theory, self is defined as follows”
In Gestalt (Perls, Hefferline, & Goodman 1951), self can be defined as "the system of contact at any moment...there is no self-independent of the situation – it is 'given' in contact." The self emerges from the changing ground, and it "does not exist prior to, or apart from, relationships with the environment" (Chidiac & Denham-Vaughan, 2009). This concept is made even clearer by the Gestalt therapeutic community in which they asserted that the purpose of the self is to organize the emerging and changing experiences to make it meaningful, as the sense of self emerges from our interaction with others and the environment. As a fluid and dynamic process, the self is capable to change and adjust according to the situation within which it finds itself as well as respond to the changing needs and goals of the environment (Philippson, 2001; Chidiac & Denham-Vaughan, 2009).
As a change practitioner, seeing people as an object or process will change how we communicate with them. It changes the expectations. Seeing people and organizations as objects makes us mechanics. With such a perspective, we want to fix broken machines, define the fixed work process, deny the impact of context, deny the power of meaning-making, and deny human beings' evolutionary nature.
It seems that resistance to change is an acceptable term in the change-makers community.
It's time to question our beliefs and assumptions. If we see self as a process, resistance against change becomes adaptation to the new situation, and adaptation needs practice, space, and time.
We have roles in social structure. Changing roles means new self-knowledge.
As a change practitioner, working with new groups is an opportunity to understand the self.
The self emerges in new situations. Emerging self construct new narratives inside us. It's important to understand our narratives as practitioners.
The quality of outside change correlates with the inner state.
Perspective on self as object or process profoundly impacts our assumptions for working with people.
Self as an object means we see ourselves and others as fixed, independent, and predictable.
Self as a process means we see ourselves and others as adapting, self-organized, relational, and dependent on the context.
Self as object perspective requires the engineers to fix people, and self as process perspective requires facilitators and practitioners.
We will discuss:
Strategies to develop self as instrument.