Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Word Power

There is a phenomenon known as the Michelangelo Effect, named for the renaissance artist who was reported to have described his work saying, "In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action.  I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it."
I hold the same opinion about relationships.  There is a generally accepted notion in psychotherapy that you can't change others, you can only change yourself.  While this is generally true, I think that it ignores the power of relationship.  What I mean is that when we are in a significant relationship with another human, it is possible that our mutual influence on each other will have a transformative effect.  It is, of course, possible that despite the significant relationship we share, our influence may prove ineffectual in motivating another to change.  How do we maximize our influence?
I believe part of the answer lies in how we perceive others.  Research indicates that we begin to form our self-image, how we think about and consider ourselves, by the way that others treat us in our very young years.  Ideally, loving parents and adults would help shape a baby... a toddler, a child's view of him or herself as worthy, capable, valued and unique.  However, I've facilitated enough therapy sessions to know that all too often, we pick up other messages from our tender years.
Let me offer this word for your consideration today:


You have probably heard it's antonym, 'incorrigible', used to describe someone who is a miscreant, unredeemable and not worth your time.  Or possibly, you've heard someone tease another by saying, "Oh, you bad boy... you are incorrigible!"  Outside of obscure texts, I don't think I've seen or heard 'corrigible' used in everyday conversation.  This is a shame, in my opinion, because it should be the foundation of healthy relationships.  Corrigible means: capable of being corrected, set right, or reformed.  When we are able to view others as corrigible, it transforms our relationships from inflexible, unyielding prisons of habit and patterns of behavior and attitude and turns them into a place where when you mess up, you can own up to the mistake and work on improvement.  When we do the opposite, when we view others as incorrigible, we relegate relationships to brokenness, disappointment and, eventually, disposal.  And then we jump from relationship to relationship seeking something outside ourselves that is whole and healthy and not broken, when the truth is that what needs to be fixed most is how we see others.
May you learn to shake off the lie that your past defines you and may you begin to see yourself as someone who is open to correction and able to improve... and in doing so, learn to value yourself and others in a whole new way.  May you be corrigible.

note: crossposted from