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September 2016




Autonomy Anyone?

"I think there's great potential for autonomy, but we have to remember that we live in a world where people may have free will but have not invented their circumstances.”

… Thomas Frank (b. 1965) American author

SCARFThis month we continue our series of five articles on what we term our 'core concerns'. These core concerns speak to what is centrally important to us and we have a basic need to take care of them. We move away from a perceived threat to these concerns or move towards opportunities that we assess may enhance them. These core concerns also underpin many of our stronger emotional responses and the associated habitual actions these emotions predispose.

Last edition we looked at the role of certainty. This time we will focus on our concern for autonomy; a concern that is often closely tied to certainty.

Autonomy can be simply seen as the capacity to author our own life. It is directly linked to the linguistic action of declaration, which often appear as our choices, and speaks to the authority we take and that is given us to enact our declarations. Autonomy also reflects a desire for a degree of independence and the right to choose the life we lead.

This need to author our own life is linked to the need for certainty through the ideas of control and influence. In the ontological work, control is seen as being able to enact our decisions without the need for anyone's validation. The domain of influence refers to the authority given by others and how they allow us to impact their futures. Some seek certainty through an attempt to control others, however this holds a potential trap in the damage that can be done to our relationships. Our need for independence and relationship is always in tension with the same needs in others. I have defined this as the authority dynamic which lies at the heart of our relationships with others.

Our story about our capacity to author our own life plays a significant role in how we create our self-story. It directly speaks to our validity as a human being. If others constantly seek to direct our life then it is difficult to see that we are capable of doing so ourselves. Often this results in our sense of self being diminished.

A strong need for autonomy, status or certainty is often a key motivator for those seeking leadership roles. However, the extent to which these needs compare to the needs of relatedness and fairness will show up in the style of leader. When one or more of autonomy, status or certainty are too predominant in a leader then we are likely to find an aggressive leadership style that diminishes of any constructiveness in the community or organisation they lead. As in all aspects of life, there is a need for balance.

Next edition, we will focus on the core concern of relatedness.

If you have been reading these articles and wondering about your own core concerns, you might like to go and do a short self-assessment at the NeuroLeadership Institute.


Mind Health Matters

Some thoughts from Jacqui Chaplin

“Resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected. Sustainability is about survival. The goal of resilience is to thrive.”

... Jamais Cascio, American writer

Mental Illness and Resilience in a Different Time

Welcome to the final part of a six part exploration of some of the things that may cause an empathy deficit in people when it comes to individuals living with mental illness. Following the opening blog post which posed the question about why there might be a mind health empathy deficit, in the first of the six pieces we looked at the link between preconceived values and beliefs. Then we took a look at the impact of being in denial about one’s own or a loved one’s mental illness. Next up, we looked at how a lack of awareness and education about mental illness can create an empathy deficit, as well as clarifying the causes of mental illness. After that, we took a look at how one’s personal discomfort might preclude an ability to be empathetic to those living with mental illness. And last month we took a look at how a busy life, that’s filled with personal, family and employment challenges can put those with mental illness low on the list of priorities.

This month we explore how a being born in a generation that did not talk about mental illness or ‘private matters’ learnt to be a whole different sort of resilient in a whole different time.

Time and again, as I have spoken to people of the so-called forgotten or silent generation I have noticed a very different perspective about mind health and resilience. For those of you who might need reminding about the silent generation, they are the generation that came before the baby boomers. They lived through World War One, the Depression, World War Two, the Korean and Vietnamese/American War. At times some lived without electricity They lived their childhoods without TV or PCs, let alone the hand held devices that proliferate today.

Out walking today I passed a mother heading to work… her two children aged about four and six both walked out of the house with their personal iPads in their hands. It struck me how different life would be for them as they aged.

And so to the topic at hand. The silent generation can sometimes be perceived as harsh in their judgements on the resilience of Gen X-ers, Y’s, the Z’s. They can be heard to say things like “They should just toughen up!”, “We just didn’t talk about those things!”, “We dealt with challenges privately – by pushing them aside and just getting on with life!”

And that is indeed how things were dealt with during their lifetime. Things are different now. For most Gen X-ers and following generations, who were born in Australia, they have never experienced the direct impacts of war and the impact they have on families and even day to day living with rationing. Post-Boomers haven’t had to constantly be vigilant about bombs or shootings. Many experienced parenting by baby boomers who, influenced by their parents’ austerity and rugged resilience, have parented their children in very different ways. Every generation wants and perhaps expects more than the last… it has always been so. However, the influences of wealth, technology, advertising, consumerism, entertainment and globalisation have wrought significant changes on our lives. Many born after the silent generation have no concept of what hardship is really like. Think of how we describe being ready for our next meal as “being starving”. Most of us would have no real idea of starvation, let alone actually being starving to the point of malnourishment and death.

So, in as brief a snap shot as possible, we can observe how the silent generation has lived with a combination of greater hardship and less pervasive external influences while they were developing and have, as a result, developed a whole different kind of resilience that can make it difficult for them to be or demonstrate empathy to those who are experiencing mind health challenges or who are in need of building greater resilience.

And so ends the series on the empathy deficit! I hope it has allowed you to think differently about mind health matters and being empathic to all in your world!

Why? Because your mind health matters.

For crisis support in Australia call Lifeline 24 hours a day 7 days a week on 13 11 14. In Australia, in case of an emergency, call 000. 


'But I Feel Good' Radio Show

Remember to tune in to ‘But I Feel Good’ ...talking pink elephants and black dogs BIFGbroadcasting in Melbourne's inner east on 94.1fm 3WBC, on your fav smart phone app or streaming live at www.3wbc.org.au every Monday 12-1pm AET.

The ‘But I Feel Good’ Content Only episodes are available for your perusal and listening pleasure at http://jacquichaplin.com/BIFGarchive.

‘But I Feel Good’ is still heard via syndication in central Victoria on 94.9 MAINfm Mondays 1-2pm AET.

Jacqui would love to hear your ideas for mind health topics you’d like to hear about and any mind health resources you’ve found helpful. Email any ideas to butifeelgood@jacquichaplin.com. Thanks to those of you who have done so already.

If you’d like Jacqui to speak about mind health matters and resilience at your conference or to your organisation please contact her via email at jacqui@jacquichaplin.com or call +61 (0)412 741 531

We invite you to read Jacqui's blog here

More on Mind Health Matters next month!

“One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.”

... A.A. Milne (1882-1956) English author

The Monthly Diversion

More of the Bill Murray's Parody account!

If someone starts a sentence with “words can’t express,” brace yourself, because they’re about to give it a hell of a try anyway.

My dream job would be the Karma delivery service.

My relationship with whiskey has been on the rocks lately.

Just moisturized my hands and now I can’t get out of the bathroom. Send help.

That prince in Sleeping Beauty doesn’t get enough credit for kissing someone who hadn’t brushed her teeth in forever.

I’m not lazy, I’m in energy saving mode.

I like to finish other people’s sentences because my version is better.

My pet unicorn told me that I was being delusional again.

I don’t make mistakes too often, but when I do it’s your fault.

Fast way to mess up someone's 'Knock Knock' joke? “It’s open.”

I’m in a long distance relationship. Sure, some people refer to it as a restraining order, but still.

I really would love to see two mimes arguing.

“Taking candy from a baby” would actually be a responsible thing to do.

There was a glorious time, before social media, when you would just lose touch with people.

I always found it a little counter productive when the teacher would say “Don’t get smart with me!”

"Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better."

... Albert Camus (1913-1960) French philosopher

Join Us Online

LinkedInDo you want to explore some of these ideas in more depth? Then, we invite you to join our LinkedIn Group and share any insights you may have. As others have done, we also invite to offer your own thoughts and conversations if they relate to the ontological approach. You can find us on LinkedIn by clicking here.

Want to Read More?

Since the formation of Talking About in 2005, we have published our e-zine every month. Before that, Chris wrote regular newsletters and e-zines with Gaia Consulting Group dating back to 1995. If you would like to explore more of Chris' ideas then you can access our e-zine archive and view any newsletter written since 2005 by clicking here or to look at all the articles Chris has written over the years simply click here.


Chris has also written some in-depth essays on a number of topics related to the ontological work. If you would like to explore any of these essays then please click on the relevant image below.


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