“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
In order to live a life that is fulfilled, we need to consider the way we are utilising our ‘will’. That is, our ability to focus our attention, informed by our ‘self – awareness’. This allows us to live a life with more deliberate choice.
Locus of Control
Viewing choice from a dialectic perspective, imagine that there are two poles. One pole is where people are highly dependent on others for their own personal security. They have a sense that their life is very much controlled by external forces (my spouse, partner, children, friends, bosses, the weather, the market etc) and experience the locus of their ‘will’ as external. These people are known as ‘Field Dependent’.
The other pole of this continuum would be people who are ‘Field- Independent’. These people are more cautious in developing a positive bond with an authority (external locus). They experience their ‘will’ as an ‘internal locus’ of control and believe they are in control of everything including their own free will! The extreme of the ‘field-independent’ pole can orientate toward grandiosity and a flouting of the rules (I know a few current world leaders with this personality structure!). In fact, a position on either extreme of the continuum has a high correlation with clinically evident psychopathology.
However, research indicates that individuals who are field-dependent with an external locus of control, are more likely to have demonstrable psychopathology than individuals who are field–independent with an internal locus of control. (Witkin, Rotter and Phares ‘Locus of Control’)
Individuals with high external locus of control scores are also more likely to feel inadequate, anxious, hostile, fatigued, confused and depressed, to have less vigour and resilience. (Ryckman and Sherman ‘Relationship between Self-esteem and Internal Locus of control’ 1973 Psychological Reports 32:1106)
Hoffman Director: Volker Krohn
During the Hoffman Process we introduce the perspective of ‘choice’ to the individual. In that sense we help participants to find a more assertive locus of control within themselves. At the same time, we foster an ability to surrender to the things that are beyond personal influence, thus allowing for a more peaceful connection to themselves and others and a healthier alignment with existence.
Behavioural and emotional reactivity has its roots within the primary conditioning of our family of origin. Recognising our behaviour and understanding the formation of our emotional reactivity enables participants to develop intra-personal agency to be able to change their ‘reactivity into response’.
This requires that the unconditioned, essential Self is prepared to face and embrace the innate vindictiveness of the ‘Emotional Child’ during the Process.
Vindictiveness is developed in childhood when we feel that someone has done us harm. The need for fairness and justice is a universal need and the sense of injustice (often resulting in a sense of powerlessness) creates a need for revenge. The need in itself is not wrong, however, when we feel powerless and cannot access our own ‘will’ to change the situation, our natural fight/ flight instinct goes underground where it festers, becoming what we call ‘cold rage’. It is very difficult to move on and be present to new experiences due to the negative emotions of vindictiveness, which keep us stuck in the hurtful past. Vindictiveness keeps us stuck in ‘victim consciousness’.
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Victim consciousness engenders a perpetual ‘vicious cycle’ where we move from the experience of being the ‘victim’ (“I suffer and nobody else suffers the way I do”) to becoming the ‘perpetrator’ (“somebody has to pay for my pain”) which is an attempt to move away from the ‘victim’. This can take many forms – becoming critical, blaming, negative gossiping, vengeful thoughts, withdrawing or any way we inflict pain on the other, even if it is misplaced. Then follows the guilt of having inflicted pain so we then try to redeem ourselves by becoming the ‘rescuer’ (“I give and give and give”) which results in resentment and exhaustion, cycling us right back to ‘victim’.
The Hoffman Process offers an alternative to this victim triangle. Throughout the Process participants learn to express their repressed feelings and learn to describe them more eloquently, fostering emotional literacy. They experience that vulnerability is in fact strength not weakness. When the victim consciousness shifts toward being vulnerable, people can accept their pain as their own suffering. Being able to name the injury for themselves and to take responsibility for their experience, they can then assert more clearly their needs. So instead of becoming the ‘perpetrator’, they become ‘assertive’ whilst remaining vulnerable. This usually diffuses a conflict situation with both parties’ sense of self intact. We can then function as a trusted person who is in a position to offer support to others, rather than ‘rescue’ and in doing so move toward a more co-operative way of interacting. And the best thing – we do not need to continue to dwell in the hurtful past. We can let it go and focus our attention on this precious moment with our creative ‘will’ free to roam.
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