The process and the ways in which we use it
|v Introduction: How processes could run|
How a physical process runs
Example: Eating an apple
How a selection process runs
Example: Smoking or stop smoking, version A and B
|v Explicit and implicit choices within processes|
|v Recognizable behaviour|
How processes could run
What I think is extraordinary in the human system is its flexibility. That should not
surprise us: humans can and have to be extraordinarily flexible. Just think how much
flexibility we need: after we have worked ourselves (or let ourselves be brought) into
problems we must take great pains to sort things out. People by necessity have to grow and
become the individual which only they are able to become!
It makes me curious about the structure of the process that has the flexibility to enable us to do things our way and, if we wish to, adapt that way of doing things to our or someone else's wishes and needs consciously. Everyone knows that process and recognizes it. The structure of the process is difficult to recognize in individual behaviour, whilst it is logical that we already use it in natural processes. The form of the process is identical for physical processes, like eating and drinking, and for mental processes, like coming to and making decisions which determine our behaviour. In a physical process, like the one that takes place in the digestive tract, we follow the complete process in all its parts. In our individual behaviour in everyday life, however, we do not have to follow all steps of the process in order.
With respect to our activities, the complete process is like the ideal model of it, it
offers the full range of possibilities of human behaviour. The individual pattern, in the
beginning only a partial process, is both the icing on the cake of human preferences as
the source of all disagreements and misfortune which fills the history books. Whereas the
individual pattern gives both the comfort and the pitfall of routine, so the complete
pattern offers the complete spacetime with all possibilities that everybody has to his
command but which nobody gets for free.
How a physical process runs
The human process, the basic process that human beings use by nature, can best be illustrated by means of an example. As I said above, we can assume that physical processes follow the complete process. Therefore I'll take the process of eating an apple as an example.
Eating an apple
Meanwhile, so much time has elapsed since the specific bite has been taken that there
is no apple left to take a bite from. This is to indicate that in the time during which a
process is running, other processes can or sometimes must go on simultaneously, like
taking the next bite as soon as the first has been swallowed.
How a selection process runs
You may have noticed that four phases in the physical process offer a possibility to change course. After the first phase, which must have been preceded by a decision, mainly the second phase offers a clear and ready moment of choice. We swallow or we don't and spit the bite out again, once we have started the process. Here and up until the stomach we confirm the decision to eat an apple. The process always runs the same course, never is one step skipped, unless the system is in disorder. The process runs automatically like a conveyor-belt which, once it is started, delivers a standard product.
As eating (a bite of) an apple is a different thing from deciding to eat an apple, so
is drinking a cup of coffee a quite different thing from the decision to take a cup of
coffee. Physical processes like eating or drinking are always preceded by processes of
In order to show how the realization of the decision to stop smoking works in daily
practice I have selected the example of the intention to go and take a coffee-break. The
characteristic of stopping smoking is that it needs to be realized at moments which occur
within other processes, which are often of a social nature. We have to be alert at all
moments when we usually smoke: in the morning on the edge of our bed or when we are under
stress, when we are concentrating on our work or when we are relaxing: during
coffee-break, after meals, during social gatherings. We have to be alert specifically on
the moments that other matters distract us.
Selection process: Smoking or stop smoking, version A and B
In these two columns I put side by side the course of the process if well and if not
sufficiently prepared to stop smoking.
|A. I am well prepared for the new situation. I have realized in
which circumstances I usually take a cigarette and even in which cases I am hardly
conscious of the fact that I have lit a cigarette. I am also aware of the fact that at the
office I need to go to the other canteen than I usually do and I have made a plan of how
to tackle the problem.
||B. I am not prepared for the new situation (or I have prepared myself
carefully on what can be expected but things nevertheless go wrong when I let my attention
get distracted at the start: my boss starts a conversation and he offers me a cup of
In example B (on the right) the intention has never been applied.
We have seen that in phase 7, the actual experiences take place. These are in fact series of sub-processes with their attached sub-sub-processes. If I, preliminary to this specific process, unexpectedly get involved in another process (for example a colleague speaks to me about our work and suggests we go and have some coffee) the coffee-drinking-process can suddenly change into a sub-process and I can lose my grip on the situation since I become totally concentrated on other things outside myself.
Since the end is where we start from therefore the end must be not just an idea but a sound plan in my frame of reference. For phase two, where we revert to our frame of reference, we need attention for ourselves and thus we need time.
Explicit and implicit choices within processes
Let's imagine that in the environment at that moment, in one of the sub-processes in
phase 7, there had been something or somebody which or who reminded me of my intention.
Imagine I felt remorse and a little bell started to ring? What happens then? Then the
question arises as to whether or not I enter into the confrontation with other people or
with actual experiences linked to the decision-making process to stop smoking. Normally,
that is, without taking into account the characteristic behaviour which plays a decisive
role in a selection process, this is explicitly the case in the 8th phase. Here the
confrontation would take place between experiencing the value from the environment with my
own feelings for my intention. Here the question is raised of whether I take space for my
own intention or not. Then it will be a matter of yes or no, all or nothing.
That is only a rough description from practice. Now the theoretical version. Indeed in phase 8, when choosing, removal or rejection of one or the other takes place: it is yes or no. However,
This leads to the conclusion that it is not possible to point out one phase which is
most important in realizing a decision (by making a choice in phase 8). In a preceding
decision process the 10th phase is crucial, as there the actual preparation has to get a
tangible form. In the implementation process we can consider the 2nd phase as crucial
because, without attention for personal motives or plans, all subsequent phases will lack
the information from memory. In phase 6 the subject is less 'What shall I present and what
do I need?' than 'Which contribution will be expected from me at the coming interaction?'.
The interaction in phase 7 will be determined mainly by circumstances in the environment.
Whilst eating or drinking something, however automatically it is done, always follows
the complete process, we can indeed skip phases during the selection process. Then the
process can be handled dynamically, moreover, we are able to move between the phases. We
do so in a characteristic way which makes us recognizable. It is our individual pattern.
One person jumps from the first phase, beginning, directly to the 6th phase 'How does it
work?', 'Am I doing it right?', while another person jumps from the beginning immediately
towards the 9th phase 'Does it add anything to my story?', 'Can I learn something from
it?', and thus there are many ways, as many as there are phases. One can even get stuck
initially in the first phase or one can by nature go forward to phase 2 and thus perhaps
remain immune to the above problems by always implicitly starting from and including
personal motives and goals.
|We apply the formula slightly different and subsequently our character will take on a
different shape. The automatic pilot is replaced by a more independent attitude than
before. In such a case the reactions from the environment upon our behaviour will also
change. It is just as likely that this could be negative or positive. Not everyone will be
ready to follow our flexibility and prefer the sureness of well-known old behaviour.
Probably we will become more conscious of our dependencies and our freedom in relations
The subject of individuality and dynamics is treated extensively in the