Monday, February 23, 2009
Becoming a Person
A summary by A. Doerr over Chapters 5, 6 & 7
[Yes, I am a few weeks late with this. I have been reading the material, but not writing on it. I will hopefully correct this oversight during the next few weeks.]
What does it mean to become a person? Aren't we already a person because of our humanity? While this makes sense logically, intuitively, most of us know that this isn't true. For what every reason, many of us have experienced blocks to feeling that we are actually people and deserve to be considered as such. The idea of taking "quiet pleasure in being" ourselves is a foreign and almost blasphemous concept, one often confused with pride and boastfulness. Yet, there is a difference between the loudness of boasting and the quietness of acceptance--to accept that we have just as much right to exist as anything else in this universe.
According to Carl Rogers, the inner most core of a person is basically socialized, forward moving, rational and realistic. But to get there, people must accept that they are human organisms, with the realistic ability to control themselves and socialize. To quote Rogers, "There is no beast in man. There is only man in man." And when humans are less than fully human--when they deny various aspects of their experience--then there is reason to fear their behavior. Such people cannot make adequate judgments because they have contorted their own data.
So, what are the traits of a fully emerged person, according to Carl Rogers? First, an openness to experience. This doesn't necessarily means to seek out new experiences, as it does to actually be open to what we are currently experiencing and seeing it without preconceived notions. To take the situation as it is, without distorting it. Second, trust in one's self. To believe that we are capable to make correct choices and behave in a satisfying manner in a situation. Third, to evaluate ourselves using an internal standard than to constantly compare ourselves to others. This includes accepting responsibility for our actions. Finally, to be willing to accept that we are always a work in progress and never a finished product. We constantly flow with life and its events. We don't jump from plateau to plateau.
To be able to achieve these traits, we have to move from being remote to our feelings to being able to accept them, even in ambiguity, as we feel them. We accept new experiences within their own existence, without imposing the structure of the past onto them. We reconsider our mental constructs. We are not threatened by other possibilities.
I personally believe that by lessening our frustrations created by incompatible self-perceptions, we lessen the stress that needs to be released and are more able to release it in a controlled manner that have it corrosively seep out our seams or blows up in our faces.