No, I’m not talking about crushing your enemies, seeing them driven before you, and hearing the lamentations of their women; I’m talking about life goals. In other words, developing your own consistent sense of being and meaning. Be warned, this post is a bit more philosophical than some of my other posts. Personally, I believe that there is an answer to this question: Congruence.
Walking the Walk
What is congruence? Well, the mathematicians will tell you that shapes are congruent when they are similar. A square is congruent with another square, and a circle is congruent with another circle; but a square is incongruent with a circle. But I’m not here to talk about math. I was a liberal arts major, so math makes me break out in hives. I want to talk about personal congruence, which is when the person you claim and be is the same as the person you really are.
Congruence is a central tenet of Carl Rogers’ Person-Centered Therapy, which is a counseling theory that prioritizes the counseling relationship above the technique of therapy (this is a gross under-representation of the PCT model. I would encourage anyone who is interested to look into it. It’s fascinating stuff!) In Rogers’ view, there were three core conditions of therapy: Empathy (the ability to connect with the client’s experience), Unconditional Positive Regard (The ability to look beyond a person’s actions, regardless of your perception of their “goodness,” and see them as a person in need of empathy), and Genuineness (or congruence: being aware of and communicating your own perspectives and values.)
Perhaps the easiest way to explain congruence is by exploring its opposite: incongruence. One example of incongruence is the blogger who says he is going to publish his blog on Friday at noon and doesn’t start it until 1:00 (cough cough). This is not as defining as say a person who claims to be happily married while at the same time is abusive; but they are under the same umbrella; so hopefully it is easy to see how dangerous incongruence can be.
Instead of focusing on incongruence however, I want to focus this post on being congruent. What does this require? Not much, only to live in accordance with your values. If you say you are going to post every Friday, have your post written on Thursday. If you value love and support in your marriage, love and support your spouse.
Congruence sounds so nice and so easy, so why don’t people do it? My money is on the fact that it is not as easy as it sounds. Consider sexuality: In order for an LGBT person to live congruently, they need to open themselves up to considerable persecution. Congruence requires a person to live in accordance with their REAL values, not just the one’s that they believe to be “correct.” Because at the end of the day, you are going to live by your real values regardless of how “wrong” they seem. So just remember that there is really no such thing as a “good” or “bad” value. “Correct” and “Wrong” are subjective perspectives. So the real challenge is to be able to identify your real values, and work on living by those values. Easier said than done, of course; but if it were easy, everyone would be doing it!
Like I said, this post is a bit more philosophical than some of my others. But if you like this sort of thing, leave a comment! I would love to talk with you all about this sort of stuff! If you have any thoughts on things you would like to see in future posts, leave those in the comments too! If you liked this post, give it a like and a share!