The Personal Development Toolkit

Self Direction


Introduction... Self Direction... My Switches... Bitterness... Meeting New People...
xxxs...

Copyright Lark Ritchie 1995. 1996. 1997.

On a Listserver, an adoptee once wrote...

I watched a movie on adoption one day and remember seeing the agency worker setting the file on the desk in front of the adoptee and saying to him, "I'll be back in exactly five minutes, and walked out the door." The adoptee stared at his wife, and they knew what they were supposed to do.

When my brother,daughter and I went to (adoption agency) to get info on my bsiblings, the case worker there who we had worked with for a long time, that we had pleaded with, tears flowing down our faces, had done nearly the same thing. She had left my bsiblings folder on the table in front of us and left the room. She did not say anything to us like above. We, my daughter, brother and I stared at each other and the thought of going thru the folder crossed our mind for a couple of scary seconds. But we were so afraid to look, thinking she might walk in the room at any minute and catch us and then we would ruin any chance we might have with her.


My thoughts...

Although I do not promote or sanction illegal activities, there is a concept called 'civil disobedience' under which a scenario like this may fall...

There are risks involved, not so much for the person looking, but for the person who takes leave of his office... Should you consider such actions be aware of consequences not only for your self, but for other people involved...

But there is an underlying, realted, and more important issue that members of the triad are somehow mired in. (Many others also, for it is in the fabric of society)

That is the issue of 'must do' or submission to external values. Within the Triad community, this 'feeling to do what's right is highly predominant...

Bparents 'do what's right' from a family perspective...
Bparents 'do what's right' from a social perspective...
Aparents 'do what's right' from a legal perspective...
Aparents 'do what's right' from a social perspective...
They both 'do what's right from a religious perspective...

Adoptees 'do what's right from a afamily, legal, bfamily perspective...

The problem is, though... that some of us act as though these 'rules' are all that exist...

and some of us have a hard time finding our own individuality, our own sense of responsibility...

and the ability to see risk taking as something that can be, in some cases, 'the right thing to do.."

Why is this important?

Let's just take the case of the adoptee for instance, and all can generalize on that.....

The issue of control, or self control, or self direction for an adoptee may be something strangely foreign...

From the beginning of their existance as a relinquished child, one quickly realizes that control of self has vanished, and that the system or world works independently of one's self... (they were relinquished, placed, adopted, can't access records, etc...)

In some afamilies, values are set during conversations at the breakfast and dinner tables (everyday conversation) that subtly reinforce diminishment of self direction...

for example: Scenario... dinner table afamily dining...

(Fade in)

amom to adad: "y'know Harry, mary down the street is very sick, they don't expect her to last..."

adad to amom: "that's too bad, she's a nice lady...

adoptee child: "is my real mommy alive?

aparent1: "could you pass the peas, dear?"

aparent2: "awwww... don't worry about that, we love you.... eat you peas... they're really good!

(Fade out....)

Subtly, children, whether adopted or not, pick up values, rules of behaviour, and rules for thinking, during what we call 'normal' every-day conversation... The implied rule of behaviour here is "don't talk about it.. don't worry about it... it's not important... your concern is not worth addressing directly...

For the adoptee, and also for many bparents, and aparents, their lives and thinking were influenced (although not intentionally) by every-day value reinforcing.... either by their own family's values, broader social values, religion-centred values, and local community values....

For many, this 'conditioning' (think hair conditioning) trains the individual to behave in certain ways - we call that aculturation - the process, beginning at infancy by which a human being acquires the culture of his society... (read also family and individual values and behaviours)

For many people, (not only adoptees) self direction is somewhat limited by this conditioning (we do 'what is right'), and that is good... otherwise we would have chaos in society... In some other ways, this can be detrimental... We limit how we act, without question... and in doing that sometimes we compromise our very lives...

In the triad, this thinking seems, to me, anyway, a little more common, mainly because of personal experiences...

Not only, as in this person's story we look at one another, realize an opportunity, and sit tight, like 'good little boys and girls...'

Personal self direction, based on values is definitely required within a society.... however... each of us must question our values, testing them against what might be 'more truly right'.

For the triad, and in the face of changing social attitudes, each must reassess the conditioning that has been acultured... (Feelings of self worth, shame, pain, and self direction) Things definitely have changed since the 1940's and 50's and even since the 70's...

We should ask ourselves... am I my own person, or am I controlled more than I should be?



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1996 Lark Ritchie. Contact me at this address..


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