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Grace and the self Bonnie Poon Zahl Mockingbird Annual Conference March 27, 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Grace and the self Bonnie Poon Zahl Mockingbird Annual Conference March 27, 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Grace and the self Bonnie Poon Zahl Mockingbird Annual Conference March 27, 2009

2 Self schemas Self schemas are like filters we use to see ourselves and us in relation to the world: they are Self schemas are like filters we use to see ourselves and us in relation to the world: they are cognitive generalizations about the self, derived from past experience, that organize and guide the processing of self-related information contained in the individuals social experiences. (Markus, 1977, p. 64) Relatively stable over time. Relatively stable over time.

3 Self schemas (cont) Self schemas (cont) To be schematic (as opposed to aschematic) for a particular trait is for a person to consider themselves on either extremes of that trait, and to consider that trait as personally important. To be schematic (as opposed to aschematic) for a particular trait is for a person to consider themselves on either extremes of that trait, and to consider that trait as personally important. Schemas influence information processing: observed biases in judgement speed, recall, and attention. Schemas influence information processing: observed biases in judgement speed, recall, and attention.

4 Example: Fat/Thin Aschematics dont think or care much about whether or not they are thin or fat. Aschematics dont think or care much about whether or not they are thin or fat. Schematic for fat: faster to make judgements about weight, more likely to remember times when they were fat (or thin), predict that they will be fat in the future, and resist/reject information that that is different to how they feel about their own body. Schematic for fat: faster to make judgements about weight, more likely to remember times when they were fat (or thin), predict that they will be fat in the future, and resist/reject information that that is different to how they feel about their own body.

5 The self and its problems Schemas influence perception, emotion, behaviour Schemas influence perception, emotion, behaviour People are quicker to attend to, encode, and recall information that is consistent with their schema and discount information that is inconsistent. People are quicker to attend to, encode, and recall information that is consistent with their schema and discount information that is inconsistent. At the same time, human experiences reinforce schemas. At the same time, human experiences reinforce schemas. Youve got stuck in a moment and you cant get out of it. (U2) Youve got stuck in a moment and you cant get out of it. (U2)

6 Self and self-discrepancy research Actual self – Who I actually am Actual self – Who I actually am Ought self - Who I ought to be (Ought-Own) / Who I think other people think I ought to be (Ought-Other) Ought self - Who I ought to be (Ought-Own) / Who I think other people think I ought to be (Ought-Other) Ideal self – Who I would ideally like to be (Ideal- Own)/ Who I think other people would like for me ideally to be (Ideal-Other) Ideal self – Who I would ideally like to be (Ideal- Own)/ Who I think other people would like for me ideally to be (Ideal-Other) Discrepancies can be problematic Discrepancies can be problematic

7 Where do these selves come from? Early childhood experiences [this usually means PARENTS!] Early childhood experiences [this usually means PARENTS!] Actual/Ought discrepancies: a history of interactions with parents involving negative outcomes (criticisms, rejection, punishment) Actual/Ought discrepancies: a history of interactions with parents involving negative outcomes (criticisms, rejection, punishment) Actual/Ideal discrepancies: a history of interactions with parents involving absence of positive outcomes (abandonment, withdrawal, lack of attention) Actual/Ideal discrepancies: a history of interactions with parents involving absence of positive outcomes (abandonment, withdrawal, lack of attention)

8 The self and its problems Actual/Ideal discrepancies produce dejection emotions, such as disappointment and dissatisfaction Actual/Ideal discrepancies produce dejection emotions, such as disappointment and dissatisfaction Actual-Own vs Ideal-Own is associated with dejection from perceived personal failure. Actual-Own vs Ideal-Own is associated with dejection from perceived personal failure. Actual-own vs Ideal-Other is associated with dejection from perceived or anticipated rejection from other people Actual-own vs Ideal-Other is associated with dejection from perceived or anticipated rejection from other people

9 The self and its problems Actual-Ought discrepancies produce agitation emotions, such as shame, guilt, panic, fear, threat, and is also associated with depression. Actual-Ought discrepancies produce agitation emotions, such as shame, guilt, panic, fear, threat, and is also associated with depression. Actual-Own vs Ought-Other is associated with agitation from fear and threat. Actual-Own vs Ought-Other is associated with agitation from fear and threat. Actual-Own vs Ought-Own is associated with feelings of self-contempt, worthlessness, irritation, lack of energy, and is the only discrepancy related to guilt. Actual-Own vs Ought-Own is associated with feelings of self-contempt, worthlessness, irritation, lack of energy, and is the only discrepancy related to guilt.

10 Thomas Cranmer ( ) is sympathetic… We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done, and there is no health in us. Book of Common Prayer, General Confession

11 St. Paul – on the divided self For what I do [actual self] is not the good I want to do [ought self]; no, the evil I do not want to dothis I keep on doing [actual self]. Romans 7: 19

12 The Christian life The Law = Ought and Ideal selves The Law = Ought and Ideal selves Unable to satisfy the Law (i.e., Sin) = Actual self Unable to satisfy the Law (i.e., Sin) = Actual selfUH-OH…

13 Solutions? The self can be self-destructive! The self can be self-destructive! Self discrepancies are problematic. Self discrepancies are problematic. Some psychological solutions Some psychological solutions Being aware of these dynamics in the self. Being aware of these dynamics in the self. Minimizing distance between actual self and ideal/ought selves Minimizing distance between actual self and ideal/ought selves Increasing self complexity – being more flexible, seeing the self in different ways, not being stuck in the moment. Increasing self complexity – being more flexible, seeing the self in different ways, not being stuck in the moment.

14 Why does this matter? Reinforcing the ought and ideal selves will lead to more negative emotions and possible psychological problems (e.g., chronic guilt, depression, anxiety, poorer coping). Reinforcing the ought and ideal selves will lead to more negative emotions and possible psychological problems (e.g., chronic guilt, depression, anxiety, poorer coping). What do we do if part of Christianity's core message is that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)? What do we do if part of Christianity's core message is that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)?...and there is no health in us. How can health be restored?...and there is no health in us. How can health be restored?

15 Grace and the self Grace allows us to be aware of the selves that we are – our actual, ideal, and ought selves. Grace allows us to be aware of the selves that we are – our actual, ideal, and ought selves. Spare thou them O God, who confess their faults. (General Confession, BCP) – Grace allows self discrepancies to exist and to be acknowledged honestly. Spare thou them O God, who confess their faults. (General Confession, BCP) – Grace allows self discrepancies to exist and to be acknowledged honestly. Grace allows us to accept the selves that we are. Grace allows us to accept the selves that we are.

16 Grace and the self Grace bridges the gaps between actual and ideal/ought selves through the mechanism of acceptance. Grace bridges the gaps between actual and ideal/ought selves through the mechanism of acceptance. Theologically, this is explained through Christ's sacrifice on the Cross. Theologically, this is explained through Christ's sacrifice on the Cross. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1) – removal of guilt/fear of punishment that is characteristic of actual/ought discrepancies. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1) – removal of guilt/fear of punishment that is characteristic of actual/ought discrepancies.

17 Grace and the self Grace gives permission for the development of more complex, flexible, and perhaps even contradictory ways, and move beyond limited, rigid self schemas that are not sufficient to deal with the varieties of life experiences that we face. Grace gives permission for the development of more complex, flexible, and perhaps even contradictory ways, and move beyond limited, rigid self schemas that are not sufficient to deal with the varieties of life experiences that we face. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor 5:17) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor 5:17)

18 Conclusion Self schemas affect how we see ourselves and the world; rigid and simplistic schemas are probelmatic. Self schemas affect how we see ourselves and the world; rigid and simplistic schemas are probelmatic. Self discrepancies are built into human experience; discrepancies that are too big can be detrimental. Self discrepancies are built into human experience; discrepancies that are too big can be detrimental. Grace 1) allows us to acknowledge our selves; 2) bridges self discrepancies, and 3) gives hope for greater self complexity. Grace 1) allows us to acknowledge our selves; 2) bridges self discrepancies, and 3) gives hope for greater self complexity.


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