As I mentioned in my last post, “convictions” are clearly defined by either the presence or absence of confidence. It can be said that throughout the journey of self-authorship, convictions have a way of helping develop our internal voices, but they can confuse us just as much until such a point that we find true meaning in the internal voice. By this I mean that before a person has adequately developed his or her internal voice, the path is full of seemingly heartfelt, convicted, and even destined decisions. It’s like we have temporary spurts of clarity on what we want, how we want to obtain it, and how we will employ sheer selfishness in the most necessary of ways. Magolda’s idea of being able to “use challenges to develop internal authority that then sustain confidence through stressful situations and help feel grounded despite these challenges” (Magolda pp. 24) is exactly what I am talking about when I say that confidence helps us to gain control of our convictions. Once we have gained this confidence, internal voice is challenged to grow on it’s own and use our convictions in way that is best fit for us to achieve our aspirations.
As I said, for a person to truly live up to their values, morals, self aspirations, and convictions, he or she must develop his or her confidence to such an extent that it cannot be compromised by external formulas and the various crossroads of life. Early in the book, Magolda sets the stage for what the various stories of this book entail, and says on page 24 that, “Many struggled to value and act on their own aspirations as they set out on their life paths. Many felt bound to the opinions of others and found it difficult to put their own aspirations in the foreground of their decision making.” When these people’s confidence was strong, they weren’t compromised by external formulas such as the opinions of others because the challenge of enduring and sustaining confidence allowed them to change perspective while altering their reactions to challenges. On the flip-side, when people passively allowed these factors to effect them, they were actively enabling following formulas instead of putting other opinions on hold and sorting it out for themselves.
Furthermore, these people sought to distinguish what they could and could not control in various situations–another lesson from their untamed convictions. Distinguishing what they could and could not control not only helped to build a foundation for authoring their lives, it helped them to get a handle on reactions fueled by under-developed convictions. It was through difficult challenges that they sustained confidence (even when it was uncomfortable) and obtained meaning in internal voice. Through this long process, people were finally able to employ their convictions in a non-reactive way. Here I think, is where the model now makes more sense:
Conviction = Internal Voice + Confidence
To sum it up:
1.) When people are bound by external formulas and aspirations of others it is difficult to sustain confidence and therefor, difficult to alter reactions and employ convictions. 2.) It is through challenges in various social settings that we sustain confidence and feel grounded, thus strengthening our internal voice. 3.) Confidence does not come all at once, it is a process by which we manage our aspirations, reactions, goals, and begin to develop an internal voice. 4.) Our convictions are guided by confidence in internal voice; once we have achieved this confidence, the journey of using convictions in a way that supports our goals, virtues, morals, etc. will unfold.
**Note: this post has been in the making for the past two weeks, hence the title: Convictions Can Be Confusing. It has been a process for me to make meaning out of the relationship between conviction, confidence, and internal voice; I hope you find it as interesting as I do, and hopefully not too confusing 🙂