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- Freedom Code
4th Pillar: Connect and Communicate
This Pillar has a direct practical focus. The aim is that you will gain a significant advantage from an active, mutually participative connection with like-minded others who are implementing the theory of Adaptive Freedom. You may wish to incorporate the theory of Adaptive Freedom into your life on your own, but doing it with others adds power to the process and helps sustain you over the long haul. This is based on the fundamental concept that authentic freedom is made in and with your engagement with others: your authentic nature is shaped by your life ‘as lived’ and this, for every human, is a life lived in community with others.
The single most essential capacity in interpersonal relations—which is implied by mutual connection—is adaptive communication. Communication is the glue of life and its stickiness, fluidity and subtlety influences our emotional health. The Pillar has a range of tools and techniques to help you adapt your style of communication to achieve better results and thereby enhance your relationships.
By practicing this Pillar you will:
1. Be able to sustain, rather than merely commence, the program of personal change and growth suggested by Adaptive Freedom.
2. Participate, as desired and appropriate, in active mutual support with other Freedom Friends who share your interests and aims.
3. Engage in clearer communication reducing confusion or misunderstandings.
4. Be able to quickly and easily establish rapport with others.
5. Understand how nonverbal communication works.
6. Be able to listen more attentively.
7. Be able to use words more effectively.
The big challenge for many people who have been involved in self help and personal development programs before has been sustaining the changes they initiated. Getting started is often less of a problem than keeping going over the long term.
Adaptive Freedom is about sustaining a program of authentic growth and development not just about starting it. The concept of being aligned with others in a continuous process of connection is utterly central to achieving this goal.
Connection means that you bring your interior ‘self’ into mutually beneficial relationship with other people and the world around you. This gives you the best chance of achieving your Vision and Life plan and sustaining the path of freedom and authentic living.
By connecting to the support of other people you maintain clarity, energy and perseverance in your life. This is in the context of belonging to a mutually supportive social network in which you are there for others as much as you expect them to be there for you.
There is a strong emphasis in this Pillar on personal interaction. The principle behind this is simple: growth and change are enhanced by the support and participation of others and by your own contribution to their growth. This reflects your intrinsic social nature. Personal development is achieved not in isolation but in connection.
Nonetheless, involvement with others should not be seen as an alternative to the essential inner work, both are complimentary. The process of exploring your inner nature is what Carl Jung called the “highest and most decisive experience of all” which requires you to be alone with yourself, to find out what it is that supports you when others can no longer support you. Only this experience can give you an indestructible foundation.
Building effective social networks on that foundation is crucial. It is far more difficult to bring about real and lasting change entirely on your own. Professor Guy Claxton refers to this as ‘person-plus’—where you habitually amplify your own mental and physical powers by making good use of all kinds of external tools and supports.
These can range from one-to-one support from friends or counsellors, encounter groups to online chat rooms, blogs to staying connected on Facebook or Twitter, local community action to virtual communities in Second Life.
For a long time the physical environment, social segregation, economic disparity and structural alienation caused by life in the urban world has placed increasing pressure on the concept of “community” and the capacity for humans to retain social interaction. This has gone against the grain of our natural inclinations. Humans are hardwired to connect with other humans—we are utterly social beings.
The exponential growth of online social networks offers the promise of transforming our range of connectivity. Social networking has rapidly become a fundamental part of the fabric of life for many people. This could only have happened because of the importance which the human psyche places on social interaction.
Social networking makes connecting with others so easy, quick and cheap that it is rapidly overcoming the social isolation caused by urban living in the modern world. People now spend as much time networking as they do on previously isolating pursuits like watching television. While this may bring its own problems the trend is nonetheless highly positive and irreversible.
Your life is the product of collaboration in all things. At different times and in different ways you are (or are the recipient of) teaching, coaching, watching, discussing, brainstorming, sharing, and learning.
Most of your actions and desires are bound up with the existence of other human beings. You eat food that others have grown, wear clothes that others have made, live in houses that others have built. The greater part of your knowledge and beliefs has been formed by your interaction with other people. Connection is a vital aid in the process of shaping your authentic self.
Each Pillar is connected to one of the seven qualities of Authenticity outlined in Chapter 4 of the book Being You: How to Live Authentically. This Pillar is connected to the quality of Connection.