Introduction: Seven Principles on the Road to Developing a Self
When I first began to design a web site, in 1998, I had the compass metaphor in my mind. I used seven principles, derived from theory. Here is my early version.
During my 87 years I have witnessed a whole succession of technological revolutions. But none of them has done away with the need for character in the individual or the ability to think.
Bernard M. Baruch, American businessman and statesman (1870-1965).
7 steps to put your leadership ideas into action are based upon 7 principles.
1. Connecting: The Influence of the Relationship Systems
2. Separating: The Emotional Field or the Lovelock
3. Mindfulness: Self in the Relationship Patterns
4. Vision: Defining a Self and Sustaining Goals
5. Aloneness: Trying Not to Convince Others
6. Resistance: Preparing for Change
7. Reality: Trial and Error Learning
These principles can provide you with a beginning road map in using theory to guide your efforts in putting your ideas into action. The theory is based on how relationships influence the development and performance of your brain and in turn your ideas and your actions.
Relationships begin to shape you at or even before conception. Using theory as a guide to understanding and perhaps changing your life and those that you lead is not rocket science, but it is based in the scientific principles of psychology, neuroscience plus the natural sciences.
In the early 1950’s Dr. Murray Bowen, a psychiatrist, developed Family Systems Theory as an outgrowth of his research at the National Institutes of Health.
I am one of the “second generation family researchers” who has benefited from his ideas and I now offer you an introduction to a few theory-derived principles.
Think of theory as a compass. A good theory, really the knowledge inherent within a theory, can help to orient you to your relationship surrounding. It will not, however, change a life anymore than a compass on its own can sail a boat.
Knowledge of the forces of nature is critical. Sailing requires the utilization of the compass in interaction with an understanding of the forces of nature.
Relationships are embedded in the natural forces of emotions. Emotional learning, like tacking into the wind, may not seem logical. The emotions are old-fashioned guidance systems in the complex system of the brain. One is not sure which part of the brain is making decisions. For example, our mind often gives poetic meaning to the forces of nature. The perfect storm, is it really perfect?
A sailor needs to know what is really out there? The question always lingers, will hard won experience, like a sea worn and worthy sailor, keep us from over reacting to changing conditions?
There is a lot of evidence we are looking for these kinds of steady, knowledgeable leaders.
Many of us working with families and leaders, continue to ponder these larger questions. I have come to see that with a theoretical compass and its counterpart, experience, we can have respect for the unknown while enjoying the wonders and challenges of learning to sail in one’s own direction as we put our ideas into action.
These seven principled steps are simply ideas for your interpretations and reactions. I believe these represent one way of thinking about how Bowen Theory can help you.
Each of us interprets theory slightly differently. There are no safe guards against this fact. Understanding this allows each of us to take personal responsibility for how we interpret theory and life itself.
If you begin to understand and apply these principles your leadership will contribute to both the ideas developing around Bowen theory and to your own vision.
Now that I have the time to go back and reedit my early work I can see these beginning connections with what eventually became the MINDFUL COMPASS.
I have identified the parts of the compass as they now can be easily seen, at least by me. The gift of time allowed me to see the gradual emergence of these new ideas.
Looking back at one’s writing is another way to see how so much deep thinking goes on behind the scenes in our busy, busy minds.
A few ideas starts to pop to the surface of our thoughts and if we are lucky they are allowed to grow and develop.
I can now see below the surface of my early writing, just where the seeds of the ideas developed. I encourage you to do this too. Look back to go forward.
Eventually the more neurtured ideas were ready to burst forth in the form of a new image- THE MINDFUL COMPASS –
It may be a generalizable finding that most so called new ideas need two things: 1) the urge to create or make something better and 2) the investment of time and energy into learning.
Leaders emerge because they think they can do it and expend lots of energy in getting to be a practised expert.
This site has been dedicated to giving visitors a few ideas about how the emotional system operates. Each visitor isasked to figure out how these general ideas apply to them personally.
Once any of us understands what we are up against in our family’s emotional system, then we are well ahead on the road to developing a self and realizing our vision.
Anxiety is the Bermuda Triangle sinkhole on our road to be who we want to be.
All of us have experienced a sinking feelings when there is just too much change.
The wind-sheer of emotions that rush throughout our mind, body and soul can delay our arrival ar our hoped for destination. Who can become a more clearly defined self during wind storms?
The better able we are able to deal with and handle the feelings of anxiety, the fewer big pockets of unexpected air turbulence will disturn us. We know anxiety comes to us from the family cosmos.
Change must happen in all families. People are born and people die. We react, things happen, and often there is a fall out from change called symptoms. No reason to panic.
It is easy for any of us to be blind to the impact of events on the road ahead. It is hard to see because anxiety or fear can disturb our vision and our functioning.
When there is a lot that is unknown, it is natural for people to focus on and blame or even hate others. It is a natural law of survival. Fight, flight, freeze or just hang on tight; yes, these are the rules of the physiological jungle.
We are built to predictably react to threats. But if one person in a group or a family can calm the physiological responses there is a chance that the obvious chain reactions will not happen. Now we can go even further to say that if one person can be more thoughtful it can impact an organization or an entire family.
What if one animal or one person knows they can influence the outcome just by building a better self? Perhaps this person has a vision of something better than just survival.
Perhaps this person has a vision built upon a strategy of personal responsibility. Perhaps this person can move beyond the old fashioned me versus you?
We know there are many roads to building a more stable self and as far as I know they all require a vision around being personally responsible.
This became the first step in developing a MINDFUL COMPASS. One’s vision became NORTH
Overall if you are aware of being a more seperate self, it will cause a reaction.
Resistance then became SOUTH on THE MINDFUL COMPASS.
In developing both of these point on the compass there are lots of details.
Any individual who is going to have compelling vision as a leader has to know-how to stay connected with his or her followers.
Being able to more connected, requires having an increasing ability to separate your feelings from those of others.
To learn more about other people one has to be able to stay calm and collected. To gain knowledge about how any system or group functions a leaders can not be running around as an anxious person. Really good leaders have to have less internal anxiety about knowing where he or she stands.
There are many techniques that are useful to lower anxiety and to stabilize self: neurofeedback training, brain gym, warming hands, breath work, yoga, jogging, etc. The recurring theme in all of these methods is the constant focus on being calm in the storm.
I order to have a vision and communicate it to others, while managing the resistance, requires leaders to be hardy souls.
The overall goal then is to have enough inner strength to believe that you will figure out where you stand in relation to others.
Only then will you be a clam force in a sea of anxiety.
If a family is upset and one person can stay calm then the rest of thefamily will eventually be able to move to higher ground.
This does not mean that the family members will not test a family leader. Of course they will test your limits.
The resilience you develop will give you added confidence in staying the course.
Each of choose our own pathway to create a personal vision for self.
“It is better to do one’s own duty, however defective it may be, than to follow the duty of another, however well one may perform it. He who does his duty as his own nature reveals it, never sins.”