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Growing individually, growing socially

A different proposal would be this: in order to grow as individuals it is important to grow socially. The great majority of books on psychology refer to the individual person. It would seem as if each individual person were isolated from their social context.


Mabel Encinas


The idea of starting with an individual is fortunate and unfortunate at the same time.

On the one hand the allusion to concern for an individual is important. What we feel allows us to act and understand the concrete world in which each one of us lives.

Taking notice of what we feel sows a revolutionary seed. Feelings like tenderness, love, fear, indignation or sadness allow us to be in contact with the world, from where we are, and to act in consequence. We process our experiences together with our emotions and feelings, our reflections and our intentions, and this is how we are able to act in the world.

In a real sense, separating all these aspects is only an analytical convenience, because they all work together.

For example we feel happy when we solve a problem in our work, and we feel disappointed when we can’t do it.

Solving problems requires thought, but also feelings. Feelings and reflections together, allow us to be aware of oppression, discrimination, injustice, the need for change.

It is appropriate to begin with the individual, because experience is lived between there where you are, and here where I am.

However to remain only with the individual is not appropriate. Let’s take the idea of the prescription.

First step: cure the individual; second step: do something in society. It’s an illusion to think of things in this way. From the start, anything we do is informed by the concrete contexts in which we move, and even more, it has repercussions in them.

Our actions, from saying “good morning” to putting our heads on the pillow at night, are social actions. Even traditions which emphasize the individual, like meditation, have been developed socially.

Context is not something which is added onto or surrounds the individual. Individuals form part of the context, and in fact of different contexts.

It’s unfortunate to think of ourselves as isolated beings, when what we do forms the texture of our communities.

In order to grow individually, to care for ourselves, we take part in social situations: we belong to a family; we go to school or to the gymnasium; we take part in a church community, among many other social contexts.

A different proposal would be this: in order to grow as individuals it is important to grow socially. We can grow if we reflect in a personal way and also with the people we are close to. We can grow if we take part in a campaign, in a community group, in a religious community, a trade union, in the school we attend or which our children go to. So, active participation in social contexts constitutes a source of personal and social transformation at the same time. Doing things with others generates a dialogue that goes beyond words.

 (Translated by Graham Douglas – Email – Photos: Pixabay


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