FORMAREP, Françoise MUHR-SUEUR, Gérard SUEUR, réconciliation avec soi-même, acteur réflexif, crise identitaire, CMV,crise du milieu de la vie, contrat de survie, compétence clé.
Who are we?
Reflexive player :
Becoming a person who is introspective about his or her relational practices means having the ability to analyze the consequences of the way you behave to the world around you, so that you can make sense of it. This analysis is a conscious approach that can be carried out after experimenting with it and not before. Indeed, to project in advance the consequences of future behavior is not reflexive but rather rationalization. Our reflexivity emerges from feedback about our practices and not from advance projection of the impact we will have on those around us. Rationalization is based on how we act, while reflexivity is based on the perception of those around us. It is not what we think about a future experience, but what we feel at the time and what the experience leads us to believe. To be a reflexive actor will therefore help in changing the way we act, which is at the very heart of the notion of learning.
Principle of reality :
The principle of reality is based on the requirements of the real world and its universal laws. Making the principle of reality the foundation for learning is the surest means to change the way we act, since it increases the chances that our behavior will be more effective. It means giving preference to the principle of reality over imagined situations. This does not exclude using the imagination, which encourages our creativity. But imagination that does not address reality can do no more than feed the illusions of situations that exist only in our minds. Putting reality first will help avoid giving in to our impulses, the source of narcissist pleasure. Taking into account our immediate environment helps us be less ego-centric. We can be trapped by the logic of the way we act. But if behavior is not based on reality, our vision of the world becomes distorted and our behavior inappropriate.
Taking risks with our identity :
This means accepting that interaction with an environment that we cannot control can generate possible doubts and modify the way we act, i.e. our identity. This notion of the mutable nature of identity does not necessarily mean a blurred or inconsistent identity. It simply means accepting the idea that we can modify our identity in line with life stages change as they occur. Taking risks with our identity is not a challenge to be met, but rather the courage to dare to be a person who reacts to experience, even if this means having to question the way we act. Taking risks with our identity is in a sense daring to be surprised by what we feel or by what moves us. Taking risks with our identity cultivates tolerance by breaking out of a set way of thinking. It is a source of otherness and of individuation.
Sectarian situations :
Work on human factors or training in social sciences (which include personal development) has for quite some time been perceived in France as a sectarian aberration or at least as a risky undertaking. Although sects are easy to spot thanks to reliable criteria, it is more difficult to define sectarian aberrations. For it is not so much the content that makes a movement sectarian but rather philosophic, therapeutic, religious or spiritual considerations behind the means by which the content is propagated (i.e. the way in which the structure, movement or person acts). It is the way the person in authority acts that makes the difference. If he or she cultivates narcissist control, manipulates the emotions of the group, uses proselytism and intolerance, takes opinions out of context, isolates a participant from his or her relational life outside the group of reference, or maintains a paternalistic guardianship over others’ behavior, there is every reason to believe that there is sectarian aberration. Is a person in a position of authority over a group capable of contemplating his or her own actions? Is he or she part of an independent supervisory group? Has (s)he her/himself sought to deal with his or her own dysfunctional behavior? Does he or she act in a way that takes the common good into account? Does he or she stand up for pro-active citizenship? Does he or she allow the people around him or her to become more discerning?
Identity crisis (CI) :
An identity crisis is a period of vulnerability between two stages of life. Certain events may trigger such a crisis: loss of a job or promotion, harassment, a divorce, a birth, a health issue… or anything else that makes us seek a new balance in our personal environment, which will never again be the same as before. Some identity crises can be full-blown existential crises, if all the areas of our life are affected at the same time. It is often during existential crises that we want to be recognized for what we are and not just for what we do.
Empathy is the ability to understand the way others feel, what they are sensitive to and their emotions, but it does not include identifying with them. It is a matter of proportion. Too little distance does not give enough importance to otherness; it can provide only sympathy, sharing the emotions of others, so that we can no longer relate to each other since we have become the other. Too much distance, on the other hand, leads to the inability to interact with others, for this kind of protection leads to indifference or projection.
Knowledge, know-how and soft skills are the criteria used by the educational system, businesses and institutions to describe the skills of the people around them. Although know-how is given minimal attention in initial training, it represents 5% of ongoing vocational training, under the title «development of behavioral and relational skills». Soft skills, which are instinctive for some people, are recognized as a possible object of learning. Generically, such learning is called personal development or development of human potential. Soft skills correspond to attitudes and aptitude in the area of personality, behavior and creativity. These are generally grouped under the terminology of generic skills, since they can be applied in various contexts, such as social, professional or personal life. The ability to relate to others, to speak in public, to active listening, to understand the meaning of negotiation and mediation, charisma, ethics, to see the bigger picture, to be curious, to foster emotional intelligence … are all part of personal resources.
The way we act :
Our behavior is the sum total of our beliefs, our opinions and all our knowledge, gained through all we have learned, along with the context in which this learning occurs. Certain significant events have the power to determine how we act. In general, the earlier in life such an event takes place, the greater the likelihood that it will have a lasting impact. Some such events are in line with reality, while others can be dysfunctional if they take place at a troubled time in childhood. Moving away from such incidents generally requires a conscious effort. Before constructing a more effective way to act, one has to deconstruct the former. Between these two stages, an identity crisis of greater or lesser intensity may occur. The main concerns involve who we are, our personal environment, and how we act in this environment.
Stages of life :
Life does not take place in a linear manner. It is more like a stairway, with each step representing one stage of life. There is of course childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age, but within each of these stages there are multiple periods of life change, whether desired or simply endured. Between two stages of life there can be confusion about one’s identity (a crisis), when we are no longer the person we were but not yet the person we will be. Going from one stage of life to another brings about bodily, biological, psychic and emotional changes.
Mid-life crisis :
This generally takes place around the age of 40. Having arrived at the pinnacle of the life cycle, some people feel that they have already achieved their major goals in life and no longer feel the rush that accompanied their earlier efforts. Others are faced with an event that is significant enough to stop them in their tracks with the realization that now in mid life the race to achieve has not yielded results that are as satisfying as they expected. The ensuing feeling of disillusion sparks a truly existential predicament called mid-life crisis. There is a time of assessment, with regrets and disappointment, a realization that time is running out for achieving important goals. At this stage, an adult may feel he or she wants to change everything, leave everything in order to start anew with other values, put an end to doing things he or she does not want to do, take off the mask and lead a truer life. This is a very delicate stage, since it does not necessarily follow that in changing the context of your life, you can actually end up with a new life. It is the time to seek new answers to the question of who I am, where I am going, what is the point of life, what is the sense of my life?
For those who manage it well, a mid-life crisis is a time for sorting things out, undoing what needs undoing, and reorganizing, all of which is necessary to get to the next stage of life, which is one of discernment, individuation and wisdom.
Pedagogical tools :
The tools used for learning are the aids and ploys best adapted to a given audience, to the theme of learning, and to the training context. Each tool is in line with the learning strategy adopted by the teacher or trainer that is best suited to his or her choice of pedagogical approach. We have opted for an approach based on experience, in which participants are heavily involved in the learning under way. Here are a few examples of pedagogical tools, aids and ploys:
- relational role playing
- workshops in the form of role playing
- workshops in the form of knowledge-producing cooperatives
- support to group dynamics
- debriefing after each workshop
- analysis of relational practices
- bio-cognitive integration of learning experiences
- sensorial and emotional involvement
- alternating between practical application and theory
- semi-directive animation
- explicit ethical framework
- relational case studies
Training based on experience :
Training based on experience consists of training by direct contact in which the participant is immersed in the subject of the experience. This approach calls on participants to refer to their life experiences, what they have felt, their affects and emotions. It therefore requires (more than any other approach) a coherent ethical framework and coaching that is both respectful and of high quality. This is not instruction by memorising knowledge, but learning through neuro-sensorial integration of new knowledge. Experience takes precedence over theory, as long as there is reflexive analysis of the relevant practices. To this end, there is nothing better than sharing the actual experience in a group setting. The experience then becomes a source of knowledge. Examining such experiences through use of this kind of learning has the advantage of being based on the principle of reality. The social sciences are based on this kind of learning by experience.
A systemic approach :
Seeking linear causality in which A leads to B which in turn brings about C is at the heart of rationality as handed down to us by Aristotle and Descartes. To understand a system, one must study its sub-components separately. A systemic approach, on the other hand, looks at the interaction between A, B and C, knowing that C interacts with both A and B. This speaks of circular causality, since there is retroaction of the effect on the cause that produced it. A system cannot be isolated from its context, its environment. In the social sciences, the systemic approach is a preferred tool, since it more accurately represents the complexity of interactions between the various players in a relationship.
Resistance to change :
If the fetus that we were had resisted change, we would never have been born. Birth is always the end product of a process of passage in which the compression of labor (contraction of the uterus) precedes the release of giving birth (passage through the pelvic-genital channel). We as adults crave security and clamor for a stable environment. But this is not natural and it cannot be. Life is change. Furthermore (and this is a fact of society), the process of disorganization/reorganization of our environment is accelerating. The way we see things, our know-how, our metabolism and the way we act must adapt to these changes. To not do so or to try to avoid the ‘compression’ stage of disorganization means resisting change. In that case, we cannot be born to a new, more relevant state of being. And since change is the force that drives life, resistance to change can be seen as a death wish. This can lead to de-motivation, fatigue, disillusion, and lack of self confidence. But we must recognize that disorganization that does not respect our environment (most often in relation to the workplace) necessarily generates stress and is not the same as resistance to change on the part of the player who is subjected to it.
Ethical framework :
An ethical framework is essential for training in which participants are called on to express their feelings. If this ethical framework is not respectful, coherent, well-meaning, and immutable, participants will not trust it and thus a pedagogical approach based on experience will not work. This is why our training activities take place in the institutional and lay framework of ongoing professional training, with internal rules spelt out in a contract signed by both participants and trainers. Training takes place with no pressure of any kind, be it political, religious, philosophical or sectarian.
Partnership helps various players agree on the greater common good, so as to reach the goal set through consensus. Each partner is respected for what he or she has to bring to the table, for what he or she stands for, and for his or her background. An undertaking based on partnership is explicit, based on a strong joint dynamic. By providing a framework for all the players in such an initiative, partnership improves their relations and fosters a people-centric approach, making the most of what each participant has to offer.
The cognitive :
Cognitive sciences are at the interdisciplinary crossroads between psychology, neuroscience, linguistics and philosophy. They deal with all aspects of the acquisition, processing, maintenance and use of information. More generally, cognition involves all processes that give access to knowledge.
Projection - transfer :
When we are in touch with someone, we unconsciously react to what he or she reminds us of, so that we project our old memories that have remained emotionally active, whether pleasant or painful memories. We are therefore not just in touch with the person with whom we are communicating, for we continue to keep alive through him or her certain memories, maintaining or even giving them greater importance. And since this other person does the same thing with us, there is a good chance that the relationship will be difficult, for it is distorted by the past experience of each player. Such projection or transfer takes on still more importance if it takes place in a relationship of authority where hierarchy comes into play.
There is an important difference between helping someone to learn (or to make sense of something) and taking on his or her suffering or lack of well being. Coaching makes someone responsible and grown up, while taking charge as if he or she were a child can make them dependent and more demanding and rebellious. Coaching someone means that he or she maintains responsibility for his or her success. And although it would be an abuse of power to take too much upon oneself for someone who needs only a bit of help, it equally wrong to seek to help someone who needs more than you can offer. FORMAREP’s work in the field of personal development is limited to coaching. If a person needs more help than that, we will refer him or her to appropriate specialists or institutions.
Key or generic skills :
Such skills, involving attitudes and aptitudes, are often grouped under the heading know-how. They help to cope with the changes inherent in our ever-changing society in a flexibile, effective and respectful manner.
The generic nature of these skills is based on the fact that they act on both the professional and personal aspects of our lives. That is the main difference from professional skills that generally apply only in the workplace.
Personal growth, pro-active citizenship, cohesion and social integration as well as employability will be greatly enhanced by these key skills. Examples of generic skills include problem resolving, giving a sense to one’s experiences, integrating learning, thinking about what one does, learning to learn, resolving conflict, tolerance, ability to communicate, negotiation, empathy, managing stress and frustration, self confidence, integrity, overcoming prejudice, contributing to the greater common good, critical and creative thinking, sense of responsibility, a spirit of initiative to move from ideas to acts, achieving goals, awareness of ethical values, team spirit, identifying one’s strong and weak points, an entrepreneurial outlook…
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