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VIII Personal Development Factors

A. Self-Appraisal: this includes an assessment of self in parts and whole. Usually includes a comparison of self to others and a judgement in regard to worth or value. Such judgements are highly arbitrary and allow for substantial individual interpretation.

1. Awareness of internal dialogue [automatic thoughts]
a. Listen
b. Describe
c. Record
d. Categorize

2. Analyze and evaluate:
a. Identify cognitive errors
b. Examine utility of thoughts [fitness: [pleasure/pain]
c. Identify areas for change

3. Develop alternatives
a. Create
b. Compare
c. Choose

4. Explore change strategies
a. Identify options
b. Evaluate
c. Select

5. Implement change tactics
a. Record consequences
b. Categorize consequences

6. Reevaluate

7. Affirm self

8. Attain confirmation from others

B Assessment Of Others: As a person appraises his/her own self-worth, it is necessary to examine others to set standards of performance for comparison. Such examination not only scrutinizes performance, but makes judgements not in relation to tasks; but in relation to self. This allows for highly arbitrary and individualized interpretation. Information gathered regarding others is interpreted in regard to self, based upon one’s complete learning experiences. Thus, any element of superiority or inferiority in self or others is relational to the subjective framework created by all other experiences. Thus, the process constitutes cumulative decision-making based upon experiential information that may or may not have the best possible interpretation.

1. Standards of evaluation
a. Select “expert” performers
b. Evaluate performance [general]
c. Evaluate performance [specific]
d. Review performance consequences
e. Review performance skills
f. Select ‘ideal’ standards

2. Compare others to standards
a. Identify random sample
b. Evaluate individual performance
c. Rank individuals [generally/specifically]
d. Identify continuum of performance

3. Set personal goals
a. Rank yourself [generally/specifically]
b. Determine areas needing improvement
c. Select area for work
d. Develop action plan
e. Implement action plan

4. Evaluate consequences
a. Feelings of satisfaction/gratification
b. Reciprocal reinforcement
c. Effectiveness [utility] of action plan
d. Revise action plan [if necessary]
e. Select next area for work [if appropriate]

5. Confirm appraisal of others
a. Situationally
b. Generally

C. Assessment Of Future Prospects: involves not only the judgements regarding one’s personal performance in comparison to others but to one’s characteristic perspective [optimism/pessimism]. If optimistic, even poor levels of personal performance can be viewed as temporary.

1. Identify goals
a. Explore options [living, learning, working]
b. Develop a vision for the future
c. Identify action steps [living, learning, working]
d. Select/prioritize objectives
e. Develop an action plan
f. Implement action plan

2. Record progress
a. Record skill development
b. Record achievement levels [objectives met]
c. Review progress

3. Reevaluate goals
a. Higher/lower
b. Faster/slower
c. Re-select/prioritize

4. Re-explore options

5. Revisit vision statement.

D. Expectations: when a person decides whether or not to undertake a task, s/he must first decide 1) whether the expenditure of effort is worth the outcome valence [desirability]; 2) whether the level of necessary skill is available to provide the necessary performance [achievability]; and 3) probability of success. The desire to achieve therefore is contingent upon self-appraisal, skill and value. Enhancement of any of the three elements is likely to increase the motivation to perform. Such enhancement would require cognitive restructure, skill building or enhanced reinforcement.

1. Identify tasks that you enjoy

2. Identify tasks that you don’t enjoy

3. Prioritize the factors that determine your likes/dislikes
a. value of outcome
b. competence in required skills
c. potential for success

4. List tasks where the outcome is valued, but the task is avoided

5. Determine the skills necessary for successful completion of the tasks

6. Decide which skills are worth learning

7. Develop an action plan for learning skills

8. Implement action plan

9. Record consequences of new skills in engaging in previously avoided tasks

10. Reexamine the task list and the factors to determine if the potential for success changes

E. Attributions: When one performs there is an outcome that is perceived either as successful or unsuccessful. People attribute these outcomes to one or more causal factors: personal force (e.g., ability and effort) or to impersonal forces over which they have little or no control (e.g., situation and bad luck). Such attributions contribute to the self-appraisal.

1. Identify causal attributions to success
a. Generally
b. Specifically

2. Identify causal attributions to failure
a. Generally
b. Specifically

3. Record attributions of specific outcomes

4. Evaluate the outcomes
a. Define task
b. Define expected outcome
c. Define best-case outcome
d. Define worst-case outcome
e. Value best-case outcome
f. Value expected outcome

5. Evaluate task skill requirements
a. Define what skills were needed
b. Define what skills were available
c. Define skill deficits

6. Evaluate whether degree of desire increased/decreased performance

7. Evaluate whether skills increased/decreased performance

8. Determine whether you are now better prepared to address the task

9. Review the circumstances of the task and decide what you would do differently

10. Repeat the process for several tasks

11. Identify causal attributions to success
a. Generally
b. Specifically

12. Identify causal attributions to failure
a. Generally
b. Specifically

F. Emotion: there are at least three primary domains to be considered: 1) the accurate appraisal and expression of emotion (in self and others), 2) the adaptive regulation of emotions (in self and others), and 3) the utilization of emotions to plan, create and motivate action.

1. Emotional appraisal: The impulse to act is the medium of emotion. The ability to control impulse requires the mediation of thought. This process requires the conceptual ability to identify and label emotional increments. Catastrophic thinking is a generalization of the worst case scenario. The ability to break the construct into less catastrophic thoughts provides the basis for self-instruction.
a. List all of the emotions that you are aware of whether you have had them or not. You may use resource materials.
b. List the emotions that you most experience.
c. List the emotions that you experience which you like.
d. List the emotions that you experience that you don’t like.
e. For each emotion on your list – identify at least five [05] incremental levels. Try to do this first yourself – but if necessary use resource material.
f. List the incremental level that you most experience of the emotions that you like.
g. List the incremental level that you most experience of the emotions that you don’t like.
h. List the incremental level that you most experience in all other emotional experiences.
i. Identify one emotional experience that stands out.
j. Identify the degree of emotion that you experienced from 1 to 10 [10 being high in intensity].
k. Use the incremental word that most describes your feelings….
l. Determine whether the next incremental down in intensity could be used to describe your feelings.
m. If so – repeat the process to find the lowest possible descriptive word.
n. Select a problem emotion to monitor.
o. Record situations where that emotion occurs and describe the degree of intensity.
p. Review the record of situations and determine the average level of intensity
q. Decide whether the level of intensity is appropriate to the situation(s).
r. If not, develop a self-instruction that uses descriptive terms of less intensity.
s. Use the self-instruction when the emotion arises.

2. Emotional Expression: Our genetic heritage endows each of us with a series of emotional set points that determine our temperament. But temperament is not destiny. The ability to mediate impulse simply avoids catastrophic or exaggeration of emotions: one must also learn to express such emotions freely and appropriately. This will require a set of interpersonal skills.
a. Identify the usual method of emotional expression for the emotions generally experienced.
b. Identify the consequences that occurred after expressions of emotions
c. Identify times that the consequences were not helpful in reaching your goals
d. Determine whether your expressions deterred you from reaching your goals
e. Determine whether your goal was important.
f. For all areas where reaching your goal was important but the expression of emotion caused consequences that interfered with your ability to reach your goals – determine whether it is worth changing.
g. Select an emotional expression that you wish to change.
h. Identify your automatic thoughts in situations that provoke the emotion.
i. Evaluate the automatic thought for utility [we will assume that it is not utile since the succeeding behaviors bring about unwanted consequences].
j. Develop self-statement regarding automatic thought.
k. Utilize self-statement in vivo.
l. Extrapolate using whatever resources are available [thesaurus, dictionary, etc.] the largest number of descriptive words for that emotion
m. Prioritize the words for degree of intensity.
n. Begin lowering the intensity of your self-instruction.
o. Record outcome.

3. Emotional Receptivity: To be social requires some ability to read social situations and read another’s innermost feelings and to respond effectively to such understanding. This requires a set of interpersonal skills.
a. Empathy: The ability to identify, partly through an instinctive, imitative activity and partly through a relaxation of conscious controls allowing an absorption in contemplating the other person and his/her experiences. The act of incorporating the other person’s experience into ourselves. When we identify, we project ourselves; when we incorporate, we introject the other person into ourselves. Reverberation of the two emotional responses until we detach ourselves into reason and scrutiny and make objective analysis.
1) Identification
• Through the use of pictures, novels, videos or models identify different physical indicators of emotion. [e.g., facial expression, posture, etc.]
• Through use of a mentor or a group, compare identifications for accuracy [determined by consensus or authority]
• Rate skills in identification
• Practice for improvement
2) Incorporation
• When sufficiently capable of identifying samples, practice in vivo
• Record incidents where you believe others were expressing emotion; identify what emotions and intensity
• Record what actually took place
• Review records with mentor or group
• Determine accuracy of identification
• Record what you feel when you identify a person expressing emotions
• Record the comparison between what you feel and what you believe they feel
3) Reverberation
• Place yourself mentally in the position of another person who is/was feeling high intensity emotions
• Try to imagine the emotions s/he was feeling
• Determine whether you understand why they may feel this emotion
• What would need to change in the circumstances for you to feel this way?
• What about you would need to be different to feel this way in the circumstances?
• Role play the situation
• Practice feeling the other person’s feelings
4) Detachment
• Review all of your process and records seeking gaps in logic and information
• Try to determine what response you would make to the person with intense emotions to help them maintain control
b. Situational Perception: Adequate social performance requires not only a repertoire of response skills, but knowledge about when and how these responses should be applied. Application of this knowledge depends upon the ability to accurately “read” the social environment, determine the particular norms and conventions operating at the moment, and to understand the messages being sent and the particular emotions and intentions guiding the behavior.
1) With mentor or group, read situational scenarios that present problematic situations.
2) Create alternative reasons why the strange behavior takes place.
3) Prioritize the alternatives as to the most likely to least likely reason.
4) Determine through consensus or authority the most likely answers and rate yourself on a series of these situational scenarios. [Groups of ten]
5) Compare your ratings to those of others in the group.
6) If your ratings are below 60% OR below the average of the group – you need additional practice.
7) You can practice with continued scenarios.
8) Determine what situations are frequently conflictual or uncomfortable for you:
• Assertiveness situations
• Performing in public
• Conflict
• Intimate situations
• Meeting strangers
• Dealing with people in authority
• Anticipating or experiencing disapproval or criticism.
9) Make a list of times in which you were uncomfortable.
10) Try to develop alternative reasons why this occurred for each situation.
11) Compare your original thinking [at the time of the incident] to your thinking now.
12) Weigh the situational errors
• You failed to listen to the people
• You failed to see nonverbal behaviors or situations
• Despite the fact that you heard and saw everything, you failed to incorporate this into your thinking/behavior
• You identified cues that were not relevant
13) Try to identify the errors that occur for you most often.
14) If you do not listen well – entertain listening skills.
15) If you do not see nonverbal behaviors – see communication skills.
16) If you are not sure what cues are relevant – ask the people in the environment.
17) Try to determine whether your emotions interfered with your ability to ‘read’ the situation.
18) If so, review your emotional identification and expression sets.

G. Communication: Finally, the medium of social intercourse is communication both verbal and nonverbal.

1. Review the parent – You will do it because I told you to do it!

2. Review the child – I want what I want when I want it!!

3. Review the adult – Can we talk?

4. With mentor or group, discuss these constructs and test out adult communication by forming adult statements to situations and/or people who tend to be a problem for you. This is to assure that you understand and can form adult responses.

5. Develop several scenarios in which you role-play with your mentor or members of the group a situation in which you must maintain adult responses under pressure.

6. Practice adult responses [transactional communication] in vivo.

7. Record situations where you were able to maintain adult responses.

8. Record situations where you were unable to maintain adult responses.

9. Evaluate the factors that made it difficult to maintain adult responses.

10. Where those difficulties were because of your feelings, review your activities on emotional expression and receptivity.

11. Utilizing dialogue in novels or plays – identify the following:
• The message
• Any “short hand” language that needed to be translated
• The literal message inherent in the “shorthand”.

12. With your mentor or group, define the underlying beliefs of the person if the literal message is real.

13. With your mentor or group, define the underlying beliefs of the person if the functional message is real.

14. Record times where you evoked a response from another person that you did not expect.

15. Record the language used.

16. Repeat #12. & #13.

17. Practice saying what you intend [directive communication] and eliminate short hand messages.

18. Keep a log of times when you made transactional errors.

19. Keep a log of times when you made directive errors.

20. Tape a drama from television.

21. Play the tape without sound.

22. Record what you believe is being communicated.

23. Identify in your record wherever possible the facial expressions, gestures or postures that led you to your beliefs.

24. Compare your record with the tape sound track..

25. Determine your percentage of accuracy.

26. Practice until you gain an eighty [80%] percent accuracy rating.

27. Have someone tape you in conversation about personal issues.

28. Play the tape without sound and try to record your facial expressions, gestures and posture and what they are saying.

29. Have someone else who has achieved reasonable accuracy ratings rate your tape.

30. List all misleading behaviors.

H. Social Competence: Competence can be defined as capacity to expectation. Social competence requires skills in interpretation of expectations and interpersonal relations. Such skills are usually learned developmentally in family and peer affectional systems. Deficits in learning or distortion require relearning.

1. Each of these characteristics is developed through personal interpretation of experience. Over time, the random sensations begin to build conceptual and then ideological basis that makes alternative solutions less appealing unless they are so salient or powerful that they cannot be ignored. In that case, the cognitive structures must be modified to accept the new information.

2. While schema, explanatory style and motivation exist in states as well as traits, it is the usual and customary thought or behavior that defines the individual’s personality or way of behaving. The “automatic” or reflexive thought that runs through your mind as an “inner dialogue”, like other reflexive activities like blinking are not noticed; but they can be attended. Such ruminations are important keys to the personal self.

3. People who define themselves as adequate in comparison to others, believe that others also believe they are adequate; are most likely to attribute causal contributions as internal, unstable and controllable. Therefore, they are more likely to be flexible in seeking alternate solutions to difficult problems and motivated to do their best.

4. People who define themselves as inadequate and believe that others support this view are likely to attribute failure internally, but success externally. They are also likely to explain causes as being stable and uncontrollable, thus displaying helplessness in the face of adversity. Such an anxious orientation leads to catastrophic thinking and panic without much motivation to use energy & effort.

5. In fact, people mix these characteristics in infinite and unique ways; creating individualistic personalities. Cognitive interventions are a process of steps:
a. Helping people become aware of their schema, attributions and explanations,
b. Helping them evaluate such schema, attributions and explanations as to their “fitness” [e.g., their value in reaching personal goals; and
c. Helping people change those schema, attributions and explanations that they find as being “unfit”.

6. It is not a question of “right” or “wrong”; “true” or “false”. If a schema, attribution or explanation is not satisfactory in supporting personal goals or brings more pain than pleasure, it needs to be changed.

7. Components: What follows is a description of a process that is usually instantaneous and self-reflective. To suggest that these “steps” happen in quite this way is naive to say the least. If one perceives a lion, the sensation can be so powerful that as to paralyze both thought and feelings. Only long afterwards might the experience be placed into a context – perhaps into a post-traumatic stress syndrome. Nonetheless, such taxonomies of steps can help us to examine individually components that never occur that way.
a. Perception: The physical process of receiving stimuli through the senses. The stimuli may or may not be strong enough to create a sensation.
b. Sensation: The physical response to the stimuli. A beginning valuation which can lead to a full fledged emotional response. Very powerful stimuli based upon established schema or innate instincts can cause very powerful and immediate reactions [fight/flee]
c. Coding: an intuitive visceral process of classification of stimuli as an allegorical or metaphorical construct. This is coded in submodalities [qualities of the senses]. The “gut feelings”, hunch or intuitions about a stimuli which feel right. While we sense we “know” something about the experience, we cannot quite put our “finger” on it, nor can we explain it well to others. In the Meta Model, this is called the Reference Structure.
d. Representation: putting the experience of the stimuli into word symbols. Explaining it. Attributing causes to it. “Knowing” it in a cognitive sense. This is referred to as the Deep Structure.
e. Proposition: Being able to convey the sense of the experience to someone else. The words used are not consciously selected and are prone to distortion, deletion and generalization. This is referred to as the Surface Structure.
f. Storage: the memory. Memories are not ‘real’, they are used to justify the experiences of the present – we remember what it is convenient to remember. Memories are grouped into schema and scenarios, which help us give meaning to ‘short hand’ communication.
g. Information: the ‘difference that makes a difference’ [Bateson]. Stimuli without information fails to arouse the individual. Novel information needs to be assimilated or accommodated. The impact of the stimuli may be powerful causing a vivid memory or weak and only slightly remembered.
h. Comparison: attempts to match the new information with stored information. In the process of changing experiences into memories we “reminisce” and try to place the new experience within some framework.
i. Generalization: Such reminiscing develops congruence between memories. Our constructs must be congruent or cause dissonance – resolved through assimilation or accommodation.
j. Categorization: If the experience was unlike previous experiences, it may be necessary to modify the belief system to fit with established generalizations [beliefs] OR modifying the established generalizations to fit with a new very salient or powerful concept. Very powerful information such as a religious epiphany may disrupt the whole establishment of generalizations.
k. Idealization: developing from established generalizations a theory of living that will solidify the established memory into a schema, perspective or ideology.
• This results in a workable method of predicting and controlling future events, but also solidifies personal characteristic ways of behaving or personality.
• Such idealizations do not appear to occur before four years of age.
• Once such an idealization occurs, the person becomes much less flexible in their habits.
• The schema become reflexive ways of thinking and therefore behaving.
• Automatic thoughts replace the beginner’s mind and remind the person that they have experienced this before and this is how they should consider the new material.
• Thus, even moderately powerful new information may be ignored if it does not fit into the schema and nonlogical assumptions can be made to justify this process.
• It is at this point that a “bottoms up” or data driven process shifts to a “top down” or theory driven process.
• Schema, however are based upon “themes” and it is only when these thematic expression are developed into a worldview, that the total personality becomes rigid.
• There is a dramatic difference between a schema/theme that indicates “nobody likes me when I sing” and the broader schema/theme “nobody likes me”. And there is a difference between a schema/theme which indicates “nobody likes me; but that’s okay, I like me” and “nobody likes me; and I’m no good”. Finally, some themes become total; “everybody is out to get me” and we lose any perspective on all other themes.

l. Verification: all new experiences must be confirmed and validated against the established method of predicting and controlling future events. As noted earlier, extremely powerful new representations or propositions may entirely disrupt the “personality” causing trauma or growth. The impact of new, powerfully different information is far less traumatic on the flexible personality that can find many alternative solutions to predicting and controlling the future and the single theme rigidity of the personality above. New information cannot be accepted, because it ends me as me. I am the sum of my thoughts and if these thoughts are rigidly defining me, change is unbearable. This is why people with serious and persistent problems in living find it so difficult to ask for and accept help despite the pain of their rigidity.