When will you begin that long journey into yourself? One of the most famous philosophers in history of mankind, Rumi emphasized on exploring or discovering one self. Self-exploration is one of the fundamentals of philosophy. Before contemplating over the wonders of universe, man asked himself the very basic questions about his own existence. Without knowing one's origin and the reason of being born, man cannot shape his beliefs and thus remain directionless. As Aristotle said that the foundation of all wisdom is based on self.
The ideas, beliefs, values and norms of a person originate from his immediate surroundings. Among them, the first encounter is with parents. Parents transmit their own beliefs and values into the child's mind. Later on, siblings, family members and close friends influence a person's self-concept. Gradually, a man's social circle expands and as he becomes able to identify and choose among things, he begins to mold or change the beliefs and values, he was taught.
As simple the word reality is, the more difficult it is to comprehend what it actually is. Philosophers like Bishop George Berkeley and John Locke when pondered upon the origin of universe and mankind stated that reality is nothing but what can be felt with man's five senses. It means that only the things that we can see, hear, touch, smell and taste exist. Apart from that, there is no reality. However, reality is not confined to man's conscious sensations, rather it is deeper. A philosopher once dreamed of himself sitting in a dark well. After he woke up, he became confused of his reality. He questioned whether this was his reality or the one he had experienced in his dream. This very bizarre yet thoughtful idea has always led the other philosophers to wonder if there is something else out there beyond man's understanding.
Reality which has been discovered by science cannot be denied. No one can deny the existence of sun, moon, the solar system, human beings, nature cycle etc. As said by Descartes, the reality of all these things is almost palpable. However, the complexity of human mind has triggered several questions about the existence of reality beyond the physical world. It is often said that a man creates his own reality. This idea was established by Plato, who emphasized that everything originates in the form of an idea in human mind. Its physical being comes later. Philosophers like Plotinus and Aristotle disagreed with this idea since they believed that the foundation of reality relies on physical matter.
Nevertheless, medical science has proved today that human subconscious can not only create its own reality but it can also live in it e.g. A person suffering from personality disorder has his own reality. No matter, how absurd it sounds, he continues to believe that reality. The theory of perceptual blocking is worth mentioning here. Several survivors of World War II stated that they used perceptual blocking to block the gruesome effects of war. In order to keep themselves motivated to live, they blocked the unpleasant circumstances of war and created their own reality. Some of them even said that they had never experienced such peace before. The above discussion supports the idealistic theory of Plato.
Reality of everything is in constant state of change. The components of physical world as well as the man's mind are in continuous state of flux. Even our sensations, emotions and ideas not only keep changing but are being influenced by fellow beings every second. As Wayne Dyer puts it, everyone is a part of divine whole; therefore, we are all interdependent (Dyer, 1995).
Reality of certain things is still impenetrable for philosophers. Among them, existence of God is the most important question one might ask. Here, the interference of religion is inevitable. Regardless of all the religious arguments in favor or against of God's existence, there will remain questions unanswered and mysteries unresolved. God does exist but His actual existence in physical world might remain unknown to us.
While working with clients, it is cleverer to focus on the reality of the client: so that the latter feels understood. Nevertheless, there are always exceptions, like if the behavior of client is unreasonable or unethical, than it is more appropriate to focus on reality as it exists.
For thousands of years, philosophers have been searching the truth about the human nature. The complexities and discrepancies of human nature are so bizarre that one cannot exactly define what human nature is. The physical nature of humans is understandable through studying pure sciences. However, the mental, emotional or psychological nature of man varies not only from person to person, but also from time to time. Coming towards the subject of mental illness, it is astounding that almost 45% of illness is mental. The center for economic performance's mental health policy group has affirmed that mental illness is more hazardous and severe than physical illness; and it often leads to physical illness (2012). Psychosomatic stress, depression and anxiety are the most common forms of mental illness, which can result in cardiac arrest. Apart from stress releasing drugs, the cure to mental illness is usually therapy, mostly in the form of catharsis. Since it is abnormal of human nature not to confide in each other, problems, hardships and struggles of a person must be shared: not necessarily with a professional psychiatrist, rather with friends, family or close relatives.
Aristotle said that man is a social animal. Which means that both the animals and humans are biological beings, however, the latter can think and communicate. Thomas Aquinas asserted that humans are biological as well as spiritual beings. According to Aquinas, biological existence of human is his body. Whereas, human mind that consists of ideas, aspirations and beliefs, is the soul of human beings. This very soul distinguishes humans from other creatures. Aquinas has regarded humans as supernatural creatures. Descartes affirmed Aquinas philosophy and stated that human beings are the fundamental part of nature, since they have immortal souls (Pasnau, 2011). Relationship of humans with other social beings depend on the impact their surroundings have left on them. A person born in poverty will most probably observe his parents quarrelling over food and basic necessities. Henceforth, he will possess aggressive elements in his nature, while dealing with his family and other social beings. Nonetheless, there are always exceptions, when it comes to human nature.
Despite of all the differences, there are some universal goals or needs that every human seeks to attain. Abraham Maslow has classified human needs in a chronological order, namely physiological needs, safety needs, social needs, esteem needs and self-actualization needs. Maslow stated that man tends to seek the next level of need as he fulfills the previous one (Maslow, 1987).
Having discussed the human nature, it can be concluded that a man can change his fate. Struggle, hard work and determination can lead a human to where he aspires to reach. Although some acts of nature are unavoidable, however, since a human has the ability to think logically, he is also responsible for taking decisions and driving the course of his life. Present circumstances and past experiences are also key factors to consider, especially for those people who have inferiority complex. Similarly, a person having dependent personality disorder always depends on other people to make his decisions. But despite of all this, God has given humans the tremendous power to achieve what seems unattainable. History is full of examples where man has reached what was considered unreachable and touched what was once considered untouchable.
Human Growth, Development, Learning, and Motivation
Sigmund Freud has defined personality as a combination of id, ego and super ego. Id represents human's most basic needs and desires. A man's id knows no morality. It is spontaneous and is ingrained in human mind from his birth. A person might remain oblivious to his id. Ego is a man's conscious behavior to satisfy the needs arising from his id. Freud states that humans often use ego defense mechanisms to satisfy his id needs. Ego is controllable. Super ego represents a man's conscience. The ability to distinguish and choose between right and wrong comes from super ego. In simple words, personality is comprised of a man's conscious behavior, subconscious desires and unconscious needs.
The process of human growth and motivation highly depends upon his personality. According to motivation theories, people have different levels of motivation e.g. self-efficacy theory states that some people have high efficacy (self-confidence), whereas some remain dubious as to their ability to perform or achieve certain tasks. Control theories imply that the more a person has locus of control, the more motivated he feels. Locus of control differs for everyone since it comes from family, friends, environment and person's engagement in particular activities (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002). Higher degree of motivation encourages learning and experiencing newness, which might result in changing a man's personality altogether.