However, the ubiquitous problem is that this process to reconcile our discontent doesn’t work. Individuals keep chasing a pathway to provide meaning and purpose. Yet, for many they pursue success, power or prestige. Sadly, it is never enough and their attitude never changes while their behavior remains the same.
What if individuals could engage in self-reflection to discover their true self, who they really are? What if they could strip away the layers that insulate them from seeing what they have become? What is they could find the clarity required to envision their future self, who they ultimately wish to become? We argue there is a process that may achieve this self-clarity to elevate their cognitive perception to discern what pathway is required to attain intentional change, back to a life that has purpose.
This process is hope-centered, an approach that inculcates attitudinal and behavioral needs that are foundationally derived from an innate drive to find meaning in life. It acknowledges this hope for self-understanding, that evokes a need to reconstruct plans to meet new goals and the capacity to adapt to life challenges. Owning a new sense of purpose elicits the capacity to believe in goal-oriented behavior that represents a cognitive attitude and desire to meet those expectations. Essentially, there is a dynamic symmetry between tapping into this need (agency thinking) and the hope that creates a cognitive platform for managing life challenges. Hope then creates the foundation for intentional change.
Hope manifests the belief that authentic goals inherently have purpose. This subjective understanding offers substantive behavioral motivation and an attitudinal understanding to one’s capability to derive pathways to those desired goals, and the motivation to use those pathways. This positive attitude incorporates three fundamental elements of hope: (1) innate motivation, (2) pathway thinking, and (3) goal orientation. Importantly, self-directed motivation is required as fundamental basis for authenticating goal-oriented strategies.
Self-reflection is a subjective inquiry into one’s attitudes, behavior, and capacity to manage one’s self. It is an actualization of their perceived capacity to understand their inherent strengths. As a support system, this tunes the mind to their innate competencies. It entails a validation of values that drive purpose and is compared to experiences that evoke benchmarks for positive behavior. This represents an identification process of the “true self,” the “future self,” and the “gap” or dynamic tension in between. Consequently, working through this process of self-reflection identifies distinctive needs that may be developed in order for clarity to be self-evident.
If we are honest with ourselves, we will acknowledge that the environment (media, peer groups, etc.) attempts to shape much of who we are. As we mature, we soon lose a sense of who we where from the past and remodel our behavior to fit in and make adjustments in how we behave in order to adapt to life. Consequently, we stuff down those memories of what we truly were: our true self. Life becomes performance driven, beginning in school where we are measured by our rhetorical learning prowess. Further, our identities are modeled after others in order to find social acceptance.
Self-clarity is required to offer the developmental insight derived from self-reflection. It reveals much of what we have subdued about our true nature. Behaviorally, the efficacy of this progression reveals who we were, how we deployed our inherent strengths during past challenges that serves as a basis for strength authentication. It tells us this is who we were before we felt the need to remodel our self. It serves as a mechanism to awaken and focus our attention on early role models that hold foundational memories of who we hoped to become and the values required to perfect that future self. This then offers as an attitudinal benchmark for new behavior that is worthy of being remodeled.
If subjective self-inquiry reveals an accurate self-portrait, then objectivity reveals our inherent competencies. We each yearn to know what we are good at. Standardized tests only measure a fraction of our multiple intelligences. Importantly, they miss dimensions of our abilities such as spatial, emotional and other specialized intelligences and how they influence cognitive reasoning. So, we are left unaware of our true potential and are therefore reliant upon what others perceive as our measurable talent.
What if we could grasp a deeper understanding of what we were born with and how this could be channeled in our work? If we were designed to flourish in different work settings, then understanding our gifts offers opportunities to reflect upon our uniqueness. Formatively, the use of both objective and subjective assessments provide useful information in developing self-clarity for creating a hope-centered vision of our future.
Visioning about pathways, to becoming our ideal or future self, is manifest through this progression from self-reflection to self-clarity. It extrapolates the meaning from self-authentication revealing why goal pursuits have purpose. If goal determination (attaining future selfhood) allows for an expression of one’s uniqueness, then envisioning that pathway activates the motivation in order to enact strategies. When challenges present obstacles to goal achievement, the resiliency derived from hope offers the sustainable belief that adaptive behavior is attainable in order to achieve a positive outcomes.
Developmentally, if individuals reflect upon who they were and what they hope to become, then they may envision that gap to goal attainment, which lies before them. This gap represents the impasse that must be objectified in order to visualize the path to reconcile or remediate its influence in their lives. This process of traversing that gap requires intentional change. Through self-reflection, hope illuminates the meaning of maintaining that vision, which sustains goal-oriented behavior, leading to a life that holds new purpose.
The application of a Hope-Centered model offers counselors a unique construct that engages individuals in the subjective inquiry of self-reflection that has the propensity to detach cognitive barriers to positive goal-oriented outcomes. This awakening offers the capacity to recognize conflicts as originating from environment stressors and reconciled as faulty thinking. This enhances internal belief systems heightening the sense of self-management that is implicitly understood as authentic hope. This activates self-authenticated purpose-oriented behavior. It creates the motivation to pursue goals, stay the course and use innate gifts in work that alters how they see themselves as living out life with new meaning.
Hope is fundamentally a cognitive attitude fostered by the belief in one’s capacity to achieve positive outcomes. It is the resilience that empowers adaptive behavior to meet goals in the face of life challenges. This perception of hope is manifest through subjective critical inquiry that unifies objective assessments into a dynamic process that illuminates why pursuits have meaning. This process allows individuals to own their pathway in life. Developmentally, it creates a sense of adaptability to take on new roles required to bridge that gap and relinquish roles that are no longer relevant.
The application of this new way of living may be channeled into both personal and professional settings. Formatively, if frees individuals from living counterfeit lives that serve to meet the expectations of others and instead to live out lives that have purpose. It begins with self-authentication and crystalizes into identifying the person that they always hoped to become. That pathway lies before each individual and requires a process of both attitudinal and behavioral change to actualize their goals. Finally, this transformative process offers hope to individuals who yearn to identify their unique giftedness and a platform to express it in the world of work; one that becomes the basis for living out a life that is abundantly filled with purpose.
Blair Hollis M.A. GCDF BCCC
Crossroads Consulting, Inc.