Human development is a story. Like all stories the chapters of our lives tell the tale of the human spirit faced with making life-changing decisions such as, a career choice, choosing a marriage partner, being true to our ideals, and constructing a belief system that will shape our attitude toward ourselves and the world. Just as the dialogues of the characters in novels contribute to the creation of great literature, so also personal and inter-personal dialogue in the stages of human development account in large measure for creating a person magnanimous in heart, mind and spirit.
Dialogue means that at least two characters are addressing a question or a problem from different points of view. Through a process of give and take they expect that their exchange of ideas will yield a creative solution to their question. Our power of self-reflection allows us to talk to ourselves as if we were two people – the person that perceives myself according to the way that I am, and the person that sees myself as the way that I could be.
The Vision Circles Program works off the hypothesis that humans participate in the same life situation of being in-between our world as it is and our world as it could be. Our perceptions, sometimes accurate and sometimes distorted, represent the world for us as it is. Intuitively, we have a sense of the ways that our world could be. Although I perceive myself as being inadequate as a parent, I have simultaneously a sense of the parent that I could be that is represented by my ideals of love, empathy and attentiveness. The tension between ’what-is’, the perception of my inadequacy, and ’what-could-be’, the awareness of my ideals, sets the scene for a dialogue about improving myself as a parent.
Dialogue or the activities of questioning and searching for practical ideas to improve ourselves begins with an intuitive awareness of our ideals. Self-reflection, which is the process of monitoring our irrational, rational and more-than-rational ways of thinking, advances our internal conversation toward a deeper and practical understanding of our ideals. When we dialogue within ourselves and with other people, we are engaged in: 1. a corrective process of weeding out our irrational tendencies, and 2. a creative process of discovering ways to realize our ideals.