Saturday, December 09, 2017

Jordan Peterson and the Self Authoring Program

Dr Jordan B. Peterson is a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, Canada, and a practicing clinical psychologist.

I first came across him on a Joe Rogan podcast. He is embroiled in a number of academic and political controversies in Canada, mainly to do with his strong opposition to a proposed Canadian law requiring everyone to address people by the gender pronoun of their choice, and other problems he sees with modern university education.

They start talking about politics, but hang in, they dive deep about halfway through

His arguments in that debate are well articulated and thought out, but are incidental to the cause of my interest in his work. A look at JP's Wikipedia page can give you some insight into those activities, should that interest you.

He is claimed by the alt-right, Christians, MRA's, and a bunch of others with political agendas, but he is none of those things, and in my opinion transcends all attempts to categorize him.

What interests, indeed captivates me, about JP's work is his multiple video series, many of which are university lectures and public talks, on his Youtube channel. There's several hundred hours of videos there which have been viewed by millions. I found his talks on "Maps of Meaning", "The Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories", and "Personality and Its Transformations" to be absolutely enthralling, and they resonate deeply within me, on multiple levels. Hero myths from Sumer and Egypt, Cain and Abel, The Flood, Jungian archetypes, lobsters, wolves, and chimpanzees, Pinocchio, and the Lion King. Dostoevsky and Solzhenitsyn. Viktor Frankl. 

Order and Chaos, Horus and Osiris, Tradition and Nature. And lots more. 

The Eye of Horus. PAY ATTENTION

The guy has read EVERYTHING and analyzed it deeply.

I've been loosely following psychology, self-help and spiritual subjects for decades, and this is some of the most profoundly interesting and helpful material I have come across in all that time. 

I'm coming hard up against my limitations as a writer here and risk slipping over the edge into fanboyism, if it isn't already too late. So I'll drill down to a single specific subject.

Jordan Peterson and colleagues have developed a couple of useful tools to help you, as he puts it, "sort yourself out."

Quote from 'Flow' by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

The Self Authoring Program is a series of writing exercises to help you understand yourself better and work towards your ideal future.

Understand Myself is a program which provides you with a personality profile based on a personality scale known as the Big Five Aspects scale.

Neither is expensive to purchase, and if you listen to a variety of podcasts that feature Dr Peterson, you may be able to obtain a discount code to make them even cheaper.

I found the Self Authoring Program to be both useful and powerful. It helps you analyze and process your past, present and future by providing a set of written exercises.

Present Authoring helps you analyze your present virtues and faults, makes you think about specific situations where the virtue or fault impacted your life. You are invited to consider the impact and its effect on you, and how you could have addressed the situation better, in the case of faults, or even better, in the case of virtues. For you faults, you are invited to consider how you might deal with the fault in a more general fashion, rather in the particular situation first mentioned.

Past Authoring takes you back. All the way back. You divide your life to date into multiple epochs and revisit and analyse the pivotal events therein, especially those that cause an emotional reaction within when you consider them. Writing about traumatic events has been shown to help people process, integrate, and eventually move past them. Just about everyone has them. I did.

Future Authoring allows you to imagine your life as you would like it to be, maybe five years down the track. Things you could do better, things you want to learn, habits, social and family life, career, an ideal future incorporating all these aspects.

Unusually for such goal-setting methodologies, it also invites you to consider a future to avoid. The place where you might end up if you allowed your faults to run undisciplined, full throttle, and out of control. Having something to run away from, as well as something to run towards, can help focus your thoughts, clarify your objectives and supercharge your motivation.

You are then invited to set yourself a list of goals that will move you towards that ideal future and away from that self-defined Hell. You set strategies and tactics in place to move in the direction of those goals, ways to monitor your progress in that regard, what impacts your work toward those goals might have on self and others, and how best to manage those potential impacts.

Jordan Peterson claims experimental justification in asserting that university students who complete this program have significantly lower dropout rates and improved results compared to those who do not.

There is no philosophical or political agenda here. The program does not suggest specific goals or ways you should act. The ideal future you design for yourself is totally up to you.

For myself, having completed the program, I think I have a better idea of what I want to achieve, and what I need to resist, in the future. I think my attitude to chores and tedious but important tasks has improved. I am more committed to learning, multiple subjects and my attitude to my Jiu Jitsu training and teaching has changed, I think for the better. 

I don't think I ever had a drinking problem, but I was uncomfortable with my relationship to alcohol before this. I've greatly decreased my alcohol consumption as a direct result of completing this program.

Time will tell; focus and the use of momentum are things I am working to handle better.

Dr Peterson has a new book coming out in early 2018.

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