When someone develops an idea or sees a concept that worked, it often becomes “the thing to do”.
I was reminded of this while reading about perseverance on Rohan’s A Learning a Day blog. He mentioned how some see perseverance as “one of those heroic traits” while classifying people in two groups: “they possess” and “you don’t”.
What this leads into is, that the trait is understood as a magical way for success. There is no recollection left of how it is being used, by whom and for what.
When we take ideas out of their context, we tend to forget that it had an influence helping to actually make this idea a success.
It helps to generalize ideas as it clarifies them. It becomes a problem if the ideas are taken as absolutes. Finding the place in between both interpretations where we can act can sometimes be a challenge.
One of the examples I’ve been struggling with along the years is one which is linked to the Process Communication Model, it’s called “Myths”.
The idea behind Myths is that we might be using emotional reactions to triggers as a way to believe in a dependency of or from others.
According to the model, there are four myths, one of them is for example “you can make me feel good emotionally” another is “I can make you feel bad emotionally”. Basically, this leads to an idea of dependency being established allowing someone else’s or one’s own emotions to be shaped by the other party.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” is a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt I’ve often appreciated. This same idea is what myths can teach us about emotions: We do have the possibility to invite others to feel good or bad, but it is still up to them to decide how they feel. We care for each other, but we don’t decide of each other.
I struggled with the concept due to the way it was taught.
A way to notice when myths might be active is based on the way we talk. “How did this make you feel?”, “he made me angry” are two examples. “He made me angry” is a statement expressing the myth “he made me feel bad emotionally”. The question “How did this make you feel?” on the other hand is an invitation to stay with a belief in the myth “you can make me feel good/bad emotionally”.
Looking at such sentences it seemed as if the solution was to chase all the sentences which could have resemblance with “a myth”.
Once this method started to be used, it transformed the basic idea of myths into one where there is a right way to express oneself and a wrong way. The intent of the person, the meaning of what he or she said had lost importance as the form gained importance.
Once I understood this, things changed.
Myths have been a stepping stone for me, I think that the idea is very useful and relevant.
The way we teach the concept even more so. The way we teach something is our ability to show if we live up to the concept or if we don’t trust the student to be able to make his or her own decision.