Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Congruency… Being What and Who You Really Are

In my last Post, Motorcycle Riding and Philosophical Aspects of Life, I metaphorically used a motorcycle riding observation to talk about the extent to which people attend to their past and/or their future. Among the Comments to that Post, I thought the Comment by Happy and Blue 2 to be more than complimentary – I found it to be quite intriguing. He said, “I liked the analogy. Actually I have been thinking about the past quite a bit in the last few days. Mostly about how much effort it will take me to get back to my previous bike riding level. The thing is that thinking about it isn't going to get me there. Riding is.”

My mental meanderings quickly arrived at the concept of Congruence – an abstract term that means similarity between objects. As opposed to equivalence or approximation, congruence implies a kind of equivalence (not complete equivalence).

Another consideration of congruence can be found in the work of a well-known psychotherapist, Virginia Satir. She saw congruence as a major building block of Neuro-linguistic programming and considered it to be the balance between self, other and context. And if this phenomenon interests you, you may want to take “The Test of Congruency” by Dr. Phil McGraw – it will help you find out what you really think of yourself and see the degree to which your current life experience — how you are thinking, feeling, and living — compares to what your experience would be if you were living an ideal, fully authentic, and fulfilling life.

In my recently published book, Mom and Dad’s Pearls of Wisdom… You Gotta Love ’Em, I talk about the importance of being yourself – being who you really are. In another of my pop-psych books Living Life, Anyway, in Chapter 6 I discuss the importance of “Living Life Congruently.”

One of the things I heard in Happy and Blue 2’s Comment was, you do things by doing them, not thinking about them. And if you approach life this way, you are being congruent. A number of years ago, I played golf frequently, enjoyed having a very low handicap, and considered myself a golfer. More recently, nonetheless, my priorities had changed and I was not playing golf nearly as often. When my son saw that in a biographical sketch I had identified myself as a golfer, he asked me, “Dad, when’s the last time you played golf?” I said, “Oh about eight months ago, but I watch it on TV on weekends.” After a pause and with some light-hearted laughter, he accurately then said, “So, you’re not really a golfer – you’re a watcher-of-golf.” I later revisited his observation and realized that he was right – I was not playing golf yet was still thinking of myself as a golfer. I was not being congruent – my “conceptualization of myself” and “real self” was incongruent, viz., not completely equivalent. (How about “former golfer?”)

Thank you and Kudos to Happy and Blue 2. And, I wonder: how many of you have on occasion been less than congruent?

Fore! Bill


Anonymous said...

I would rather you still consider yourself a golfer - not a watcher of golf. That way when you kick my tail on the course I can at least say I was beaten by a good golfer!

Unknown said...

What a great in-depth look at living life YOUR way. Sometimes it is that simple. If you think about it, do it. (well, I'm not talking about cheating your spouse) but if it's something you really want, "just ride".

Anonymous said...

I liked this post. Of course I need to be more congruent with my life..
Knowing you aren't doesn't change it..

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Happy and Blue 2 -- Great point! However, don't underestimate the value of Awareness! None are so blind as those who don't see. As you inherently suggest, nonetheless, "Behavior Change" is the next (and hardest) step.

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Kip... thanks for the complimentary and astute observation. And if I may respectfully add: "enjoy the ride!"

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hey Golf Watcher's Son,
Thanks for underscoring the principle of congruency. In effect, it was your principle -- remember, you called me on it.
Now you're saying that if I still call myself a "good golfer" (which you astutely had pointed out would be less than honest and incongruent on my behalf), you personally could gain from it (IF I were to beat you you could at least say that your were beaten by a good golfer).
Are you suggesting that your personal gain would be more important than your principle?
I want you to worry about that... especially when you're trying to concentrate, standing over a three foot putt!

Jordana said...

what about "I'm a family man" vs. "I have a family." There are many places that I think we tend to claim a "title" - however the action of the individual is what should really be considered.

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hi Jordana,
Yes, we do tend to give ourselves titles (for a multitude of reasons). I am definitely intrigued by your last comment, however.
The other day I finished the first draft of my next contemporary romance novel, "If Ever Again... It'll be for Love," and about two thirds of the way through the book the heroin (Diane) is talking with an interesting gentleman (Eli, who is gay and has "interesting" friends). As they are talking in the kitchen of Eli's Bed and Breakfast, she asks Eli about his friends and here's what Eli says (I'm copying and pasting it for you):
Diane continued to sip the rest of her coffee, yet listened intently as Eli was talking to her. “Here’s the way I look at it,” Eli continued, “when I think of any person I really don’t give a damn about their bank account, how they earn their money, what kind of car they drive, what they wear or what their orientation is. All I need to know is: How do they treat themselves? How do they treat their family and loved ones? And, how do they treat the world around them? And if they do those things in non-prejudicial, caring and loving ways, then shit – what else matters?”
Hope you like it (and Eli),