Use of Self
Whenever people know that I am researching the Use of Self (UoS) topic, they will inevitably share with me their view on UoS or to make inquiry as to what the concept means. Statements or questions like the following have been very forthcoming: “I have done a lot of inner work and pretty sure about my internal workings, would that count as part of Use of Self?” “I have been practicing mindfulness for a long time, and since I have done a lot to self-care of myself, would I be in a good form in my use of self?” One highly experienced colleague asked recently – can Use of Self be communicated in a two days’ workshop? Finally a fresh entry to the field of OD asked “whether the Use of Self is a new vogue for personal development?” I was so pleased these questions have been directed to me and giving me an opportunity to answer them in this short blog.
Use of Self has been a core concept across so many fields of knowledge. I have had the opportunity to review the literature of many disciplines – social psychology, psychology, psychotherapy, social work, coaching, Gestalt psychology, Organisation Development, Nursing etc. Each field has something unique offer to expand on the understanding of self, presentation of self, self in relationship, the evolving of authentic self, true self and false self, self in the helping professions etc. The philosophical roots of the concept is also very interesting + significant – helping us to understand the concept within the existential nature of life and of being human. On top of that, self without constant rubbing shoulder with others within a specific context is almost an obsolete concept. As Martin Buber, a philosopher said, without I there is no we, without we, there would be no they and vice versa. What is important for those who are interested in the concept is that – when we study this “Use of Self” concept, we have to go beyond the self (or sometimes I said we have to get over ourselves) in order to be in that space where we are genuinely able to make ourselves available to others within a specific context and to make the type of impact we want to make – with intentionality and choicefulness.
So knowing who we are and be familiar with our internal sensation is only one part of the Use of Self equation, having an alert social sensitivity to others – understand what the “others” or “multiple others need” in that moment within the context they operate in, and act to meet their needs is extremely important. Also being able to accurately read the situational dynamics within the environment and the needs of the systems will help us to make the discernment what needs to be made happened by us in what manner and timing in order to create that intended outcome for the systems. Hence when we are in full awareness operating in the relational arena, making BiG I intervention to deliver required results, we said we are in the flow of using ourselves effectively.
Dr. L Mee-Yan Cheung-Judge is a fellow of Roffey Park