The page that started it all

I wanted to get this up on the blog before it was too late; this series of quotes is a large part of what prompted the basis of my ideas throughout the researching process. On page 110, Kurt is discussing his fleeting confidence; this is where I got the idea for the model to apply to the relationship between conviction, confidence, and internal voice.

Kurt: “I try to control events less and my perception of them more. What other people think is still a motivating thing for me. There are times when I am extremely confident, and then what people think doesn’t matter. It is the power of my conviction. At the time, I’m going to do it, it is going to happen. In the mode I am in right now, I am concerned what other people think but not to gain approval for myself.”

Kurt discusses the “bursts” of confidence which allow him to act on convictions, and therefor disregard the opinions of others.

Baxter-Magolda: “When he trusted his internal voice he had ‘the power of convictions’ to act on it. However, when he was less confident he had to turn to building his internal voice.”

This quote by Baxter-Magolda ties in beautifully with the model: it is through confidence in internal voice that we gain “the power of our convictions”.

Convictions Can Be Confusing…

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 🙂

A bit of analysis of Kurt, Lydia, and what Baxter-Magolda thinks

So much of my research has developed from the multiple connections between the following passages. I just wanted to get some of my more organized notes down as I begin to really draw some meanings and connections from the book.

From the interview on YOU-FM with Baxter-Magolda:                                                  It is so easy for people to offer advice by simply saying, “I have had a similar encounter and this is what you should do” or “Don’t do that, do this” etc. This is the exact sort of recurring external formula that “enables a person to follow formulas as a opposed to sorting it out for yourself.”

pp. 24 Baxter-Magolda says that through the course of her interviews and stories shared by these people, adults often struggled to act on their own aspirations as they set out on their paths. Many people gradually learned to conceptualize their circumstances by defining what they could and could not control. “Some were able to use these challenges to develop internal authority that then sustained their confidence through stressful situations and helped them feel grounded despite these challenges.”

pp. 111-112: Kurt realizes his over-commitment to his boss; realizes his internal conflict in always “biting his tongue and doing what he’s told”.                                                            pp. 164: Lydia talks about external influences in her teaching and says “…It’s going against the things I was taught…then you have  a problem; a conflict within yourself.”

pp. 110: Kurt: “There are times when I am extremely confident, and then what other people think doesn’t matter. It is the power of my conviction. At the time,  I am going to do it, it is going to happen.”                                                                                                            pp. 172 Lydia: “I guess I don’t think about, ‘oh well, that might make that person uncomfortable.’ It’s not even a conscious thought. It’s just, ‘Well that’s of course what I am going to do’ “.




Mixing up my reading habits

Within the next week I plan to attend to my readings in a different way than I previously have. Dr. Magrum says that by changing the setting, atmosphere, and mood in which one reads in, it changes the meaning of the reading for that person. This sounds like a fun little experiment, and I plan on doing a couple of readings: one while laying in bed (I never read in bed) and the other in Berndt Hall. I am very much a creature of habit and love my routines. It will be interesting to see what other themes I can draw from the text while being out of my usual element.

What I have to let go of

In order to gain meaning and personal perception of a text, I must first suspend my own notions of the situation. I am notorious for assuming that I will always be able to relate to others and their stories; while this can be beneficial to me as a listener, it also has a tendency to delay my ability to make meaning. When reading the stories in A.Y.L., particularly of Kurt and Lydia, I found it much easier to extract the meanings I was looking for when I suspended my desire to empathize and relate. The reality is that I will not always be able to relate to what someone else is saying, especially when what they are saying has to do with their own unique individuality. By suspending this expectation, the meaning of whatever text I am reading comes so much more fluidly; as opposed to me having pre-conceived notions about how I “already understand” on some level. When I am able to put my own story on hold, I let go of these selfish pre-conceptions and the meaning pours out and reaches out to me, rather than me having to search for it.

Building off of research proposal

So here I am, engaging the difficult task of thinking, and I believe I have a bit more juicy content for my research topic to take off. I mentioned in my Research Proposal that I would like to explore the concept of convictions in relation to an internal voice. Originally, I interpreted Baxter-Magolda’s definition of “convictions” as being the same as an internal voice. On the contrary, I am finding that with each separate reading of Kurt’s and Lydia’s stories “convictions” are clearly defined by either the presence or absence of confidence. How interesting. Baxter-Magolda says that to utilize “the power of convictions”, internal voice plays a completely separate role in that, acting on convictions comes after having confidence in internal voice. Convictions may only be acted upon when confidence in one’s internal voice is totally present.

Furthermore, I found that both Kurt and Lydia rely on their individual ability to conceptualize a situation and act upon conviction only where it applies. Here is where I thought it would be interesting to apply a working model to the relationship between conviction, confidence, and internal voice. Consider this:

Conviction = Internal Voice + Confidence

Please correct me if this is a poor representation, but I felt that this is an accurate depiction of how the ability to act upon conviction is solely reliant upon internal voice and confidence. On the other hand, it can be said that Internal Voice as defined in many contexts by Baxter-Magolda, is reliant solely upon itself; it is not a fleeting response to externalities in our life like conviction and confidence (which both assist in self-authorship are not required). Our internal voices are always there, whereas the feelings of confidence and conviction which allow us to govern our internal voices are not always as stationary as we would hope.

That being said, I now have a more workable idea to formulate into an argument. I am thinking a definitional argument which critically examines what defines conviction, confidence, and internal voice as three completely separate things. Just playing with the thought process. Again, I would love to hear any criticisms or comments from you all, thanks!


Research Proposal

My second research idea which I would like to alter but build off of is about emotions (e.i. how we use them to our advantage, what they are defined by, and how they can in a sense, consume us). In the search for self-authorship in this life we are often faced with the choice to govern our emotions or rather, allow our emotions to govern our lives and influence external factors. This idea came to me when comparing the contrasting yet similar stories of Kurt and Lydia. Kurt defines himself by the power of choice that he has worked to understand, accept, and utilize, “The power of choice is mine; I have a choice of how I want to perceive each and every situation in my life …” (pp.105). This quote instantly made me recall a similar philosophy being a large theme in Lydia’s story; on page 172 she asserts that “You have to make a situation what you want it to be, and if you’re miserable, it’s because you made yourself miserable.” There are countless similarities in their dialogue and how each of them asserts themselves internally and externally.

I initially thought that Lydia’s and Kurt’s stories were polar opposites in how each of them follows their internal voice; Kurt always “second-guessing” and Lydia who finds a thrill in constantly re-inventing herself in her ever-changing life. Upon closer readings of sections throughout these two stories I found that Kurt and Lydia are very similar in their self-authorship. They both are continually re-working how situations affect their emotions and reactions and in turn, how these reactions influence their external realities.

What I would like to expand upon is these similarities in “the power of convictions” as Baxter Magolda notes on Kurt’s story. Kurt and Lydia both embark on their paths to self-authorship by means of growing, examining, acclimating, and being part of the constant life changes such as work and family; all the while struggling and over-coming life’s challenges in a way that harmonizes with their inner voice. The similarities in Lydia’s and Kurt’s convictions of the self are matched by the gap between them in which they individually receive their inner peace:  that gap being the difference in personal maturity on the path to self-authorship. As Lydia seems to struggle seldom with decisions and task-management, Kurt seems to think about things so much more before making a definite personal decision. Despite Kurt’s “being behind” Lydia in governing an internal voice, he utilizes his mind and  spirit fully just as she does.

It will be interesting to further compare this gap between them along with their very different lifestyles. It is amazing how much their stories line up in the search for an internal voice despite the fact that Lydia must make decisions to fit her nomadic lifestyle while Kurt must make decisions fit for his sedentary lifestyle. The fact that Lydia and Kurt are both able to end up in a place of comfort and agreement with their self-authorship with such similar philosophies and such different lifestyles really makes the theme of the book come together. In working with this topic and expanding upon it I will further decipher the close similarities of their philosophies and build a working argument for how self-authorship through “the power of convictions” is achievable by every person despite how “different” their lives may be. If there are traits to be shared amongst every person in this world, it is the power of choice which is so often governed by our convictions, or internal voice.


Research Ideas 2

I am fascinated with emotions and how we use them, or allow them to use us. It would be interesting to build off of the various emotional states of the interviewees in Authoring Your Life and critically examine what exactly emotions are in comparison to how we define them. For instance, 90% of what we say is body language and how much of that is driven by spurious emotions? How do our emotions assist/hinder our interactions on a daily level? How much of those “emotions” are able to be controlled and how much of them are volatile? Also, do we choose our emotions or do they “choose us”?