Boyatzis’ Theory Of Self Directed Learning

It was proved by Dr. Richard Boyatzis that medicinal and rehabilitative solutions to addictions do not last permanently and why addicts keep coming back to rehab facilities time to time. What this theory has shown is that adults learn what they want to learn. Other things, even if acquired temporarily (i.e., for a test), are soon forgotten. Students, patients and clients may act as if they care about learning something, go through the motions, but they proceed to disregard it or forget it-unless, it is something which they want to learn. Even in situations where aperson is under threat or coercion, a behavioural change shown will typically extinguish or revert to its original form once the threat is removed. This does not include changes induced, willingly or not, by chemical or hormonal changes in one’s body. But even in such situations, the interpretation of the changes and behavioural comportment following it will be affected by the person’s will, values, and motivations.

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Self-directed change is an intentional change in an aspect of who you are (i.e., the Real) or who you want to be (i.e., the Ideal), or both. Self-directed learning is self-directed change in which you are aware of the change and understand the process of change.

The description and explanation of the self-directed change process is organized in five sections as shown in the figure below. Each section starts with a point of discontinuity.The person’s behaviour may seem to be stuck for long periods of time and then a change appears quite suddenly.

The First Discontinuity:Catching Your Dreams, Engaging Your Passion

Our aspirations, dreams, and desired states are shaped by our values, philosophy, life and career stages, motives, role models, and other factors. This indicates that we can access and engage deep emotional commitment and psychic energy if we engage our passions and conceptually catch our dreams in our Ideal Self-image.

The Second Discontinuity: Am I a Boiling Frog?

For normal reasons, the human psyche protects itself from the automatic “intake” and conscious realization of all information about us. These ego-defence mechanisms serve to protect us. The “boiling frog syndrome” applies here. It is said that if one drops a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will jump out with an instinctive defence mechanism. But if you place a frog in a pot of cool water and gradually increase the temperature, the frog will sit in the water until it is boiled to death. These slow adjustments to changes are acceptable, but the same change made dramatically is not tolerated.

Those forgiving the change, frightened of it, or who do not care, may allow it to pass unnoticed. Our relationships and interpersonal context mediate and interpret cues from the environment. They help us interpret what things mean. You ask a friend, “Am I getting fat?” To which she responds, “No, you look great!” Whether this is reassuring to the listener or not, it is confusing and may not be providing feedback to the question asked. Of course, if she had said, “No, it is just the spread of age or normal effects of gravity” you may not have more useful information either.

There are four major “learning points” from the first two discontinuities in the self-directed learning process:

Engage your passion and create your dreams; and

Know thyself!

Identify or articulate both your strengths (those aspects of yourself you want to preserve) and your gaps or discrepancies of your Real and Ideal Selves (those aspects of yourself you want to adapt or change); and

Keep your attention on both characteristics – forces or factors-do not let one become the preoccupation!

All of these learning points can be achieved by finding and using multiple sources for feedback about your Ideal Self, Real Self, Strengths, and Gaps.

The Third Discontinuity: Mindfulness Through a Learning Agenda

A learning orientation arouses a positive belief in one’s capabilityand the hope of improvement. A learning agenda helps a person focus on what they want to become. This results in people setting personal standards of performance, rather than “normative” standards that merely mimic what others have done.

The Fourth Discontinuity: Metamorphosis

Acting on the plan and toward the goals involves numerous activities. These are often made in the context of experimenting with new behaviour. Typically following a period of experimentation, the person practices the new behaviours in actual settings within which they wish to use them, such as at work or at home. During this part of the process, self-directed change and learning begins to look like a “continuous improvement” process.

The Fifth Discontinuity: Relationships that Enable Us to Learn

Our relationships are an essential part of our environment. The most crucial relationships are often a part of groups that have particular importance to us. These relationships and groups give us a sense of identity, guide us as to what is appropriate and “good” behavior, and provide feedback on our behavior. In sociology, they are called reference groups. These relationships create a “context” within which we interpret our progress on desired changes, the utility of new learning, and even contribute significantinput to formulation of the Ideal. In this sense, our relationships are mediators, moderators, interpreters, sources of feedback, sources of support and permission of change and learning! They may also be the most important source of protection from relapses or returning to our earlier forms of behavior.

The major learning points from the fourth and fifth discontinuities critical in self-directed learning process are:

Experiment and practice and try to learn more from your experiences!

Find settings in which you feel psychologically safe within which to experiment and practice! and

Develop and use your relationships as part of your change and learning process!

The signposts on the path to self-direct learning are:

At the end of self-directed learning approach that we followed, we gave each participant to evaluate him/herself on the below 9 outposts to keep track if they are progressing in the right direction.

Has the person engaged their passion and dreams? Can they describe the person they want to be, the life and work they want to have in the future? Can they describe their Ideal Self?

Does the person know himself or herself? Do they have a sense of their Real Self?

Can the person articulate both their strengths (those aspects he/she wants to preserve) and gaps or discrepancies between their Real and Ideal Selves (those aspects he/she wants to adapt or change)?

Has the person help their attention on both Strengths and Gaps- not letting one become the preoccupation?

Does the person have their own personal learning agenda? IS it really their own? Can the elements of the plan fit into the structure of their life and work? Do the actions fit with their learning style and flexibility?

Is the person experimenting and practicing new habits and actions? Is the person using their learning plan to learn more from their experiences?

Has the person found settings in which to experiment and practice in which he/she feels psychologically safe?

Is the person developing and utilizing his/her relationships as part of their learning process? Do they have coaches, mentors, friends, and others with whomthey can discuss progress on their learning agenda? Do they have relationships with which they can explore each their new behavior, habits, new Ideal Self, new Real Self, new strengths and gaps as the process unfolds?

Are they helping others engage in a self-directed learning process?

Cognitive behavioural therapy

This is a psychotherapeutic approach, a talking therapy that aims to solve problems concerning dysfunctional emotions, behaviors and cognitions through a goal-oriented, systematic procedure.

Patterns of Cognitive Distortions

All-Or-Nothing Thinking – You see things in black-and-white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.

Disqualifying the positive – You dismiss positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other. In this way you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.

Magnification (Catastrophizing) or Minimization- You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else’s achievement), or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or the other fellow’s imperfections). This is also called the “binocular trick.”

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Should Statements – You try to motivate yourself with shoulds and shouldn’ts, as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. “Musts” and “oughts” are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.

Labelling and Mislabelling – This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself: “I’m a loser.” When someone else’s behaviour rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him: “He’s a goddam louse.” Mislabelling involves describing an event with language that is highly coloured and emotionally loaded.

Personalization – You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event which in fact you were not primarily responsible for.

Guard against these

Perfection Syndrome: Everybody needs to be and wants to be successful in life. Everybody in life wants to “make it.” However in doing so, we go overboard, stretch the limits of our body and return to the same stress levels that we wanted to overcome in the beginning.

Entitlement Syndrome: Those inflicted with Entitlement Syndrome show symptoms of being overly-pampered, completely dependent upon others, frequently whining about trivial matters, full of jealousy and rage, excusing themselves out of doing anything difficult, unable to lose or fail gracefully, and they appear to resemble children in adult bodies. The Entitled consistently throw tantrums when they don’t get what they want, especially if what they want belongs to the Responsible-Minded. The Entitled will often sue those who disagree with them, especially if they think it will fund their elaborate lifestyles for a long time.The only remedy for this disease is self-control. And the only source of self-control is their God-given moral conscience, which can often be lost altogether if the Entitled do not purge themselves from their enablers early in life.

Do’s and Don’ts

Only meditation for first one year

become aware of your feelings first and , then, to the inner-most thoughts

Do not try to explain or apply any of these things to someone else’s life

Do not try to read anything about psychology, say, for one year


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