Working With Your Self
By working with the self characteristics as they emerge, exist and evolve for you, you can create much healthier and effective relationships between you and the people who you work with. Rather than feeling that other people are causing you tension or that somehow you causing tension for them, you become far more aware of what you are both feeding forward and feeding back across your interpersonal boundaries. As you become more aware of characteristic aspects of yourself, you also find yourself becoming more aware of the opportunities to be found in these previously unnamed, unowned and unchosen characteristics. Being more self-aware of your own characteristics also results in you becoming more aware of the characteristics of other people, so that you can work together to create a healthy and free-flowing mutual connection.
Why Idealised Selves Don’t Work
In most organisations, the conventional way to work with self characteristics is to provide individuals with lists of idealised characteristics that they should practice in order to promote workplace harmony and efficiency. These idealised characteristics are often presented as part of the company values and instruct members of the workforce to practice such characteristics as honesty, openness, diligence, integrity, accountability, trustworthiness and respect. The challenge with taking this approach, however, is that there is often a great difference between idealised and actual behaviours in the workplace. Always feeling that you have to conform to an idealised set of behaviours means that you will find it difficult to work with the tensions that arise when actual behaviours differ from these idealised behaviours.
Projecting Your Self
When you project a self characteristic across a boundary between you and another person, you are pushing what seems meaningful in your inner world out into your shared outer world and into their inner world. If you keep feeding your self characteristic forward without being open to what is coming back, you may find that tension emerges as the other person becomes defensive or pushes back against you. By being more open to how the other person responds, and how that reflects the self characteristic that you are projecting, you can become more aware of how to healthily work with any tension that emerges. For example, if you feel that a person always seems to be over controlling and restricting your actions, it can be useful to ask your self how often you unconsciously try to control outcomes, or prevent yourself from taking action that requires discipline and self-control.
Presenting Your Self
As you become more aware of how you may be unconsciously projecting some of your self characteristics on to other individuals in your workplace, you may find yourself withdrawing back into your inner world and resisting the attempts of other people to engage with you in your inner world. If you keep allowing other people’s characteristics to push into your inner world, without feeding back your response across your interpersonal boundary, you may find it challenging to really present your valuable self characteristics to the people around you. It may appear to you as if you are trying to react in a stable and consistent manner but other people will experience it as a resistance across the boundary between you. By confidently presenting your self characteristics, you can often create a valuable personal connection, instead of waiting for someone else to do it for you. Instead of just being preoccupied, you will find yourself being actually present.
Preferring Your Self
Understanding why you project your self characteristics and how you can present them also enables you to make choices about what aspect of your character that you prefer to present and project to the people around you in your workplace. Rather than feeling that you can only show up in a way that is consistently causing you and your colleagues to experience an unhealthy tension, you can choose how to use your individual self characteristics. It may seem as if you only have one stereotyped identity, as described by your personality profiling report and your performance reviews, but you have a wide choice of individual characteristics that may be preferable to use in this particular context. This expanded awareness also helps you to take a more detached view of your situation, so that you can see the bigger picture and wider context.
Practicing Your Self
Your self is how you experience the connection between your inner and outer worlds and so, rather than being a single unchanging identity, you are continually updating your sense of self by feeding your perceptions forward and backwards across the boundary between your inner and your outer worlds. Your self is not an object or an entity, it is a dynamic process that emerges, exists and evolves from a continually moving feedforward and feedback loop, a circular gyre of fundamental awareness. The more aware that you become of this connection through the reflected characteristics of other people, the more aware you become of how you can project, present and prefer your self. As you work with this dynamic process, you are naturally practising and perfecting your sense of self, enabling you to create healthy free-flowing connections with the people who you work with.
Turning Your Self Around
One of the main challenges that you can have in working with your self is viewing yourself as a single stereotyped identity that you and other people expect to behave in a particular way. Instead of providing you with a stable platform for action, this often just results in a situation where you feel stuck in a rut and unable to move forward because no one respects and recognises your value. By working with your self characteristics and realising that you most often experienced your unknown and unfamiliar self through others, you can use the connection between your inner world and the inner world of another person to ton together with them so that you can healthily turn your situation around. As you use your self characteristics to ton your situation around, you often find that you turn your self perceptions around, enabling you to open up new opportunities and release yourself from situations that no longer allow you to truly be your self.