How can you seek out more agency in your day-to-day? HOW WE REACT TO FEAR There are four common reactions to fear: anger, shame, judgment (blame), and dissociation (avoidance). Let's discuss each and explore how we can use them to our advantage. Is there a cause or goal you'd like to support (better schools, the environment, affordable housing, a political issue)? Next, think about your talents. Are you good at organizing and managing people? Do you have teaching experience? Carpentry skills? Are you good with computers? Working with kids? Now it's time to find a place to combine your interests and your talents. Ask people you know or do a web search for organizations in your area that cover your interest and require your skills. Maybe your local Habitat for Humanity needs help building affordable housing for struggling families. They emphasize that evaluation of the student by the student deserves much weight in the evaluational process. The basis for grades inevitably comes into sharp focus, and students come to realize that they are often (if not always) antithetical to growth in terms of personal purposes. The student becomes quite fully aware of the fact that a grade is a highly artificial thing, based upon very human and fallible methods, and that his own judgment of his achievement is at least as valid for him as a judgment from an external locus of evaluation. As we have struggled with this problem of grades and academic articlekeeping, and have contrasted it with those experiences in which students are free to evaluate themselves, we have reached a conclusion which to some will seem radical indeed. It is that personal growth is hindered and hampered, rather than enhanced, by external evaluation. Whether that evaluation is favorable or unfavorable, it does not seem to make for the development of a more mature, responsible, or socialized self, but indeed tends to work in an opposite direction.

This is not to say that we would do away with all evaluation. If I am hiring one person from among ten applicants, I evaluate them all. If a man is going out as a physician, a psychologist, a lawyer, or an architect, then perhaps the welfare of society may demand that he be evaluated in terms of certain publicly available criteria, so that society may know whether or not he is competent for his task. But let it be recognized that such evaluations are made on behalf of the welfare of the organization, or the welfare of society. If you feared a predator, you would do what you could to avoid it, right? What happens, however, when that predator is a human who sexually molested you and you can't avoid them? What happens when you see the police officer who didn't believe you? Fear would be a natural response, as would be the anger that may follow. Anger with the predator, and with the fact that the world creates and protects these types of predators. Anger for so many other reasons. If your anger is reactive and unthinking, it protects you from fully feeling the discomfort of the injustice. In the long run, though, that anger amps up your allostatic load, damaging your body. Anger isn't always a bad thing, however. If you couple your anger with a recognition of your own value and awareness that the problem is the circumstances, not you, you can use your anger to set boundaries and stand up for yourself. Perhaps disadvantaged kids at a nearby school need a math tutor, or your local animal shelter needs volunteers. Maybe you can gather a few friends to make sandwiches for a local homeless shelter, or join together to organize a Neighborhood Watch program. Maybe you can collect signatures to get your political cause on the ballot. Chances are you won't have to look very far to find a way to engage. The last step: Do it. That's all there is to it.

Reach out and become part of a bigger circle and watch what happens. EXPAND TO LEVEL FOUR For Level Four connections, the answer lies within you. Only you know what calls to you. They do not, as far as we can determine, promote the growth or welfare of the individual. Such a radical hypothesis deserves intensive investigation. Thus far the writer knows of only one study bearing on the point. Beier (21) studied the effect of a Rorschach evaluation upon reasoning, problem-solving, and motor skills. They were then divided into an experimental and control group, matched for age, intelligence, ability in abstract reasoning, and degree of adjustment as measured by the Rorschach. The members of the experimental group were then given a structured interpretation of their Rorschach results. They were exposed, in other words to an evaluation (which they would be likely to regard as authoritative) made from an external frame of reference. Both groups were then retested for abstract reasoning, card-sorting, and mirror-drawing ability. The experimental group showed more anxiety, more rigidity, and a greater degree of disorganization than the control group. They seemed less able to respond flexibly and intelligently to the demands of the situation. If you have a history of woundedness--and most of us do, particularly if we have a marginalized identity--our on-button may be jammed for fight, even pushing away others who care for us. In article 10, we'll discuss ways to help you sit with the uncomfortable feelings instead of instantly reacting. By sitting with uncomfortable feelings, you open yourself up to more connection--and probably a lot less road rage too! Sometimes fear activates a shame response. Shame emerges when we confront the difference between who we are and who we think we should be. It's such a deep and primal feeling that I'll devote the next article to it.

But for now, here's a quick story about one of our most common fears, the fear of rejection. Imagine you get up the guts to swipe right and soon you're going on a date. Fifteen minutes after you meet, your date takes a phone call, then tells you they have an emergency and need to go. Your brain creates a story. Are you looking for artistic expression through music, art, or literature? Perhaps an easy first step would be to visit an art gallery or join a article club where you can discuss with others the eternal human themes that make great literature. Or, if you haven't visited your faith or religion since your childhood, why not take it off the shelf, dust it off, and see what elements of that faith still fit with the person you are now? If you feel at home in nature, perhaps now is the time to plan a day hike or even just a walk in the woods. There are so many options with Level Four. The key is to attach to something truly eternal that resonates for you. As you've traveled through these 14 days, you've learned a lot. You've mastered so many skills, from emotion regulation to problem-solving, taking back your time to making the healthy lifestyle changes that buffer you against stress. You've loaded up on the good stuff to dial your life into the positive, and here, today, you're sealing the deal. You're ensuring that your days to come will be held steady by the skills you've mastered and anchored by a greater sense of meaning and purpose. The difference between the groups was statistically significant. Although this study approaches only one phase of the problem and needs much further supplementation, its findings are in accord with our own experience in indicating that when the student experiences the locus of evaluation as residing outside himself, personality organization and development are hindered; Outcomes of Student-Centered Teaching It has been our frequent practice to ask students to turn in at the end of the course some sort of personal document -- a self-evaluation, or a reaction to the experience of the course. One of the impressive learnings which result from perusing these documents is the sharp realization that each student attended a different course. That is, the experiential field of each person is so different that at times it is very difficult to believe that the papers turned in were written about what was, from an external point of view, the same objective experience, namely a certain course with a certain instructor.

To read such a group of papers thoughtfully is to give up forever the notion that a course will mean to all students a certain degree of coverage of topics A, B, and C. Each person's experience of the course is highly unique, and intimately related to his own past and to his current desires and purposes. In spite of this uniqueness there are certain general trends often noticeable in such reports. The first is the feeling of puzzlement, a feeling which may range from amused perplexity to real confusion and a sense of profound frustration. They had arranged for that incoming call so they could bail if they found you unattractive. Dang, that hurts. You call your best friend for support. What does your friend say? Of course they walked out on you. You dress like a schlump, honk when you laugh, and can't carry a conversation. What do you expect? Do you really think your hypothetical best friend would be that cruel? No, of course not. But the situation is much worse because this, or something similar, is probably what you said to yourself. While we can't promise that life won't throw you a curveball or two, we can promise that you'll be very ready and able to field it when that curveball comes. My Plan to Connect to Something More I choose to work on this skill because: The Level Three connection I will cultivate is: I will do that in these specific ways: The Level Four connection I will cultivate is: