Have you ever noticed that you come to certain topics and you are not sure what you really think? You can talk to someone and as you are talking you learn what you are thinking. Or perhaps what you are thinking gets better formulated in the conversation. It is like a picture coming into focus, as you pay attention to your ideas, they become clearer to you. And, even more interesting, how your ideas get formulated, or even whether they get formulated is very much affected by the person with whom you are conversing.
There are so many aspects to life that we can respond to, and until we are called to respond, we have only vaguely defined how we would respond. As a matter of fact, researchers know that in surveys if you ask people what they would do under certain circumstances, it does not always correspond to what they actually do when they are in those circumstances. In other words, we think we know what we think, but sometimes what we think we know is not what we really think. What?
Anyway, the point is, sometimes we find ourselves in a conversation, faced with certain topics, and we have not actually thought about those topics before. In the course of the conversation we may surprise ourselves by what we think. And, of course, our views and our understanding are impacted by the people we are talking with also by the people in our lives generally.
So here we are, a constellation of many selves, with a range of ideas and feelings, and we are discovering ourselves over the course of a lifetime. Like all living organisms, we are evolving and growing as we go. What do I think about the oil spill? What about health care? How should I organize my garden? My mind? Is it okay for teachers to get jobs tutoring after school? Should I go for energy efficiency or lower cost when I buy my next car? Should I quit my job or stick with it? How come I have feelings I can’t explain?
Time is a luxury. Consciousness is a luxury. Connection is a luxury. When we are awake to the connection with another person and taking time to get to know each other, and in the process getting to know ourselves, we are making space to grow. Psychotherapy is about growth. Education is about growth. Child and adult development is about growth. Each form of growth requires time and relationship. It is the only way to make it work.