In today’s domains of management gurus, psychology experts and biologists scientists are choosing their preferences from very interesting discussion that how much important nature or nurture in the success of an individual or there is other reality as well? In addition, how much important is actually, the age of childhood in shaping one’s life.
I think this is very fundamental question comes in the mind. Many theories and interpretations have been discussed in academia and in leadership development training institutes.
Is it really genetic or environmental or psychic causes or there is another fact beyond it? Sometime people become so determinist and sometime optimistic. On the other hand God has sent down man to contribute and live to leave legacy, how much this believe is so powerful or thoughtful.
My Purpose is to explore to see different point of views and at the end we can find some comprehensive outcomes.
Last week, I put this discussion on Facebook and LinkedIn and asked many people and experts on different networks on internet. I found various responses and different perspective for this great quest.
Let me tell you first what question was asked.
Here It is:
Question: What are your thoughts on this:
“Freudian psychology which postulates that whatever happens to you as a child shapes your character and personality and basically governs your whole life. The limits and parameters of your life are set, and , basically , you can’t do much about it”.
( Extracted from book “The 7 habits of Highly Effective People” by Dr. Stephen R. Covey, p-69,1989)
I am sharing here those and some valuable opinions and answers of people which they shared with me on social networks. It will give us broader view from different minds about this very subject. I am copying them here as it and we will continue this discussion until we reach on greatest conclusion.
“I believe it’s true our up bringing does shape us but I also believe people can change their character & personality. I’m a living example my character changed! No one life goes without difficulty that they can’t blame. When people blame they give up their power to change”.
“There is shaping, but it isn’t set in stone. How you choose to respond to what was done in your youth and how you were shaped… your response is totally up to you. Some choose to respond with ” This is how I am.” Others choose to respond with “How can I overcome? How can I be more in spite of what was and currently is?” Mind is our servant and will work with whatever we give it. In the first choice, mind is given a command to continue affirming what is. In the second choice, mind is given a quest, command of transformation. Mind works to fulfill what we give”.
Robert responds to my question like this:
“What you say sounds good, and I believe choice plays a role shaping one’s life. As much as I respect the work of the late Stephen Covey, my experience informs me that many psychological problems and disorders related to childhood can’t be healed through choice. If I understand your response correctly the complex field of psychology can be reduced to one theory of choice?
Faced with many challenging executive coaching assignments over several decades has prompted me to forge collaborative working relationships with talented psychotherapists who are skilled at addressing the unconscious issues while my work stays on the organizational/conscious side of the boundary where I’m trained. In such cases the client is asked to grant permission for us to work as a team in support of shared outcomes”.
One posting from Leon says here:
First of all Freud never said that the “The limits and parameters of your life are set, and , basically , you can’t do much about it”. That’s what psychoanalysis is all about, a way to deal with the things in your past to improve your present condition.
Now in regards to the choice factor, I agree with Robert. Human behavior is a very complex construct that can not be altered just by the simple exercise of personal choice, there are external and internal aspects that affect the process of changing ones life, for instance, paradigms, resources, knowledge, support systems, even protein intake. Now having said that, I do agree we can change our condition and improve it for good, as far as some of all the factors of this equation align to produce the desired change.
Finally, Dr. Covey (a founder of my Master’s Program) didn’t have it all right, or at least scientifically supported.
In light of above two responses of Leon and Robert I replied as:
Robert and Leon, What i have understood from you valuable thoughts that there are many complexities within brain, psychological and biological which cannot fit to the theory of power of choice as Dr. Stephen’s whole work’s philosophy originates i believe. right?
If so than my response would be:
I think that power of choice is relevant to those emerging individuals and minds who are living or want to live/grow/contribute in their personal and outer world. Weak or mentally ill or distorted childhood brain with physically damaged, cannot make choices because of their limitations and illness. They should consult with therapists, counselors and medical doctors. Because the whole idea of chose and success literature is for dynamic individual who are not depend on at least any major illness or such psychological complexities as you are mentioning.
To practice choices are functions and habits of leaders only.
some other responses are shown as below:
“i m supporter of frued psychoanalytical theory , because early experiences really play large role in personality development and continue to influence behavior later in life. But if we talk about change yes we change but it is purely an individual effort and very less of us could manage to do so”.
“Stays in subconscious for most part which does control majority of our unconscious behavior and habitual patterns and reactions. Once one becomes aware, and thru working with a coach like us, they can choose to change, transform, transmute, transcend and evolve negative thoughts beliefs patterns behavior and be best version of themselves as they allow it and take action towards it”.
“Stephen Covey wold disagree (and I could be wrong but he preferred Jung). He acknowledged that upbringing powerfully influences your character and personality but ultimately you, as a human, have the choice to do and be otherwise”.
“I don’k know how to represent either one of these two gentlemen, but from my own course of life I strongly disagree. I am much different than I was years ago, stronger, overcam many obstacles, and transformed my life several times through changing jbaits, coaching, etc. Unless THAT, too, was predetermined, which I very seriously doubt”.
I believe it does, but other things that happen later on do change people. Maturity and growth are a big factor. I know I had a habit from childhood, and it was associated with events and stress, I did feel powerless and I almost gave it to the feeling but no, I’m stronger than that come on, anyone can redesign what they believed in when they were young. Everyday we have choices and let’s hope we choose well. I needed and was a puppy that wanted to be loved by everyone, I learnt that not everyone loves you, and it’s better to change that really quickly otherwise one gets hurt. So to an extend, we are the way we are but let’s not accept all of it. Keep an open mind.
I believe it helps shape our character and personality but does not have to define us. We all have the ability to make choices in our lives and change the direction if we want to.
Interesting thought, but I cannot agree. We decide every day, with our options at hand, what kind of life we wish to create for ourselves. It’s the habits we develop, and the daily decisions we make taking into account the personal mission statement we have designed, that create the future we determine. I truly believe that life should be lived “looking forward”.
I agree with most, we make choices every day that decide our fate. I’ve seen a peer that had an unfortunate childhood become a veterinarian and another who had a great childhood end up working the 2nd shift in the light bulb factory. However, I believe it easier for some due to a more positive environment growing up. Thanks!
We as humans have learned to re-invent ourselves and manage our emotions. We can’t always control our hot button’s created during childhood, though we can manage how we react to them when pushed. This is habit 1.
“I’m a believer that we have choice. Once you see that the young you didn’t have the depth of awareness needed to split the event from your version of the event, you can reframe the past and therefor set your future”.
“Sorry i Disagree – it is your mindset that changes every thing around you. It is your attitude towards life that determines your altitude.
“If you think you can or you cannot – in both cases you are right”
“I believe that your personality is shaped when you are young and due to your upbringing you may be timid, shy, confident etc. But as an adult you have the choice and now the information to be able to change any character flaws that you developed in childhoods”.
“I believe that the experiences you have as a child play a big part in self defining tracks that play in my mind.
Habits and triggers are formed from repeated experiences which almost create a rut in your brain; when X happens to me, I turn right and take this path of reaction. It takes a lot of work to grab the wheel and choose to steer down a different path however it can be done.
The wonder of human existence is having free will and the ability to learn, grow and change. Alvin Toffler said “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”. This quote was not meant to reflect human character and personality, however I still believe it applies. We can learn new ways to respond to stimuli and choose new ways to react.
Your childhood is where you start and none of them are idealistic. What you choose to do next is up to you”.
“Freud stimulated ideas from his stimulated thinking as he sought stimulation. The pleasure principle is instinctively and emotionally driven and is at the bedrock of human development. There seems to more that might govern one’s life than the areas Freud was concentrating on”.
“Maratib, to me Freud stood somehwere at the beginning of public Western opinions on psycology, meaning he started a discussion which had been neglected for thousend of years, in western cultures that is.
Thousends of years ago people already learned about human behavior and pretty more nuanced than Freud ever described it.
Yes as long as you are able to maintain your sense of innocence and creativity you evolve and enrich your self-and people knowledgde. And yes for most the first years are the most impressionable, assuming your creativity and sense of innocence slowly get depressed and replaced by rationals through “socialisation”and education.
Still once you reached some level of maturity your tend to go out and seek to get back to the state of mind and freedom you once had?
Are they therefore all set and not to be influenced? no way, to easy.
There are loads of cultural influences, preferences, personal competencies, genetic imprint and basic instinctive behaviors to consider.
I agree that whatever you experience early on during impressionable years will influence you and affect the way you percieve and experience life to be, yet not set it, certainly not that you cannot do anything about it.
I find that to be the poorest excuse, you might not be ale to completly change and do a 180 on certain topics and behaviors, but you can and should evolve if only to cope with the only constant being change itself.
“See my animation about eg Freud : http://youtu.be/H0PsxiioTDw“
“Maratib, interesting question. As you mentioned, this has been a key Philosophical question for sometime. We have come to find out as time moves forward that many views presented as fact by well-known philosophers, have been dis-proven or modified to accommodate a better understanding of what is known to be true today. Earth is flat, Sun revolves around the Earth, Dark Matter and other moving targets. Events that happen to us as we grow up definitely influence who we are as individuals and as cultural societies. Typically, the individual is presented with the event and decides if they will react to that event. I do not subscribe to the believe that individuals can’t do much about how they allow it to influence them. It’s up to each of us to choose our own vehicle that takes us forward from that event to the next step in our lives. Some my select anger, others may choose compassion and some may select understanding”.
“For the most part, behavior is set by the age of six. No one knows the percentage contributed by genetics and by environment, but both matter. Can people change? Sure, but usually as a result of a significant emotional event (divorce, death of a loved one, etc). Otherwise, what you see at six is what you get at sixty. Are people prisoners to their behaviors? Yes, unless they use a model like DISC (or something similar) to learn the strengths and limitations of their behavior style. Once learned, salespeople can use their intelligence instead of their emotions (their “emotional intelligence”) to improve their interactions with their clients”.
“It is a bit short-sighted…throughout our life, different events, actions, choices, etc would bring rational or irrational fears in our lives; with which, we have to deal with, thus, we would get shaped (character, emotions, skills, thoughts,…). I see it as a never ending cycle until our last breath. Surely…childhood experiences strongly shape our future self, but indefinitely. Imagine, if someone gets bullied most of his/her childhood. How strong that individual must become to overcome its fears and come out as a better person!? Even more importantly, how long would it take to change one’s perception”?
“It has been a Long mind/thought War beetween Behavioural psicology and The traditional Freudian one. And more contributions have been added by Lacan and Eric Berne and some recent studies from Winnicot. It’ a fact our first 5-6 years personal events strongly influence our beliefs and way of thinking and living emotions; this do not automatically Mean the human being as to be An unmouldable set of cause-reaction mosaic. The innest “machine” in some Way work for ever in The same Way But it’ a possible effort to adapt and change the Way each single individual live everyday actions and emotions. Why can different individuals pass through the same disruptive events surviving Them or being injuried for all the Life Long? Here stand the great trasformation Power given to any human being to learn How to manage herself/himself starting by a Long and honest inside job. If you know the “Inner machine” working everyday in any of your action and thought you have a great power to influence and chance your life; in a different Way I would say as to be almost impossible or a lottery ticket Win !“.
“Hello Maratib, having spent two years studying the irrational, covert and unconscious side of organisational life at an esteemed psycholanalytic institute in NYC it is my opinion that our childhood experience (the subconscious as a tape recorder) plays a significant role in how we view and interact in the adult world. I also believe with the proper support we as human beings can grow beyond the “projected” beliefs and limitations (head trash) we “introjected” as defenseless child”.
In the light of above opinion, I personally believe that It is human choice to make him greater and different beyond past, race, colour, language, region and social setup. This is called dignity of human. You have power to choose your own response any time beyond genetic, environmental and biological reasons. Today, most of dynamic individuals have not even normal childhood but since they have choose to take control on their life, they are unique, star and role models for millions other. It is unique spiritual voice which anyone can be aware of and start to follow it, no matter, what kind of worse current or past circumstances are. Dr. Stephen’s principle of Personal Vision i.e. Be proactive, basically teaches that charge your life at any moment beyond any pressure and leave your legacy.
He put this fact in his famous book, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness:
“We are a product of neither nature nor nurture; we are a product of choice, because there is always space between stimulus and response”.
Covey also points out it by saying that “I am what I am” and “I am where I am because I so choose to be there”