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José Víctor Orón Semper, researcher of the 'group Mente-cerebro ' del Institute for Culture and Society
Terms and mentalities. Interiority
Is Education in interiority a way of going inside oneself and discovering one's own individuality or, indeed, is it a way of being in relationship with others? Is interiority an inner castle in which to assert oneself and then go outside? Or is it a place of meeting?
Discovering interiority is the point core topic to succeed with an educational proposal that certainly satisfies the deep desires of any person and, therefore, is a guarantee of success. It is not a question of educating interiority as if it were just another "topic" to be taught, but every Education will be really useful, attractive, motivating and generating growth if and only if, at the same time, it is a Education in interiority and intimacy. Interiority and intimacy are not the same thing, but they are related. The term intimacy can be consulted in the emotional vocabulary, but let us highlight some aspects of the term intimacy to understand what is Education in interiority.
It was Augustine of Hippo who knew how to propose intimacy as a place of interpersonal meeting , in this case between God and oneself. If the term intimacy should be qualified in relation to meeting, interiority is rather the pedagogical path to discover that we are beings of intimacy. In this sense, and according to our proposal, the Education in interiority is the pedagogical resource for people to discover and live as beings of intimacy, that is, as beings of meeting from intimacy. Let us now look at this way of understanding interiority and then we will present a complementary one.
This pedagogical proposal is usually understood as a path from outside to inside oneself. But these references to place must be understood metaphorically and not spatially. Interiority and intimacy should not be located "inside" as if it were a secret "place" where one can shut oneself away from oneself and discover one's purest or most authentic self. This search for a place where the person isolates himself in order to affirm the "I" and, once this "I" is affirmed, goes out with force to the outside world, is an authentic process of madness, since this "I" simply does not exist, but is either the fruit of a conceptualization or an illusory creation of a person in pain. This "strong-self" is a psychological defense mechanism with which we clothe a weakness with strength. Sadly, very sadly, we see that this is the frequent reference letter to the world of interiority. In such a case, to educate in interiority is to educate in self-affirmation. But that "isolated self" is simply a dead person. There is no such thing as a single person. As persons, we are either persons or we are nothing. Therefore, it must be clear that all Education in interiority that leads to the affirmation of a powerful, strong and defined self that then goes out to dominate the world is to make the person sick, because what the person is, is so because of his or her peculiar way of meeting other people. To educate in interiority is to educate for intimacy and to educate for intimacy is to educate for meeting. Augustine said: "I understood all this later by the voice with which you spoke to me, inside and outside of me, through the good things you bestowed on me". That is to say, the dualism inside-outside understood as isolating-relating would have nothing to do with Augustine's understanding, since both inside and outside are places of meeting. To speak of interiority is to speak of the depth of human relationships. Perhaps it helps to understand the contrast between interiority - exteriority not as inside - outside, but as deep - superficial: deep relationships - superficial relationships. The play on words is not relevant because, in the end, they are metaphorical resources, but what is relevant is to understand that what is proposed is the duality individuality-relationship, because, as Augustine said "you were interior to my deepest interiority" referring to the fact that in the deepest part of him God was waiting for a meeting, not for a solitude. The interior is a place of meeting, as is the exterior. That is to say, educating in individuality would be the opposite of educating in interiority. Educating in autonomy understood as independence would be the opposite of educating in interiority. It is worth reviewing the term autonomy to remember that the true meaning of autonomy is the capacity for meeting.
Therefore, we should reflect, because when a child is told "learn to be yourself", what is being said? The phrase is not incorrect, but with what intention is it said? If it is understood that it is about becoming clear with oneself and thus being able to be what one wants independently of the outside, the call to interiority will be misinterpreted. The Education in interiority is to educate for the meeting, insists Agustín, "because it is better for him to find you without having solved your enigmas, than to solve them and not find you".
Certainly, Augustine describes his history of meeting from religious categories. Augustine searched without knowing what he was looking for: in creatures, in the programs of study, in various sects and lived the lack of a meeting with the feeling of permanent dissatisfaction. Until he found what he was looking for, although he did not know what he was looking for: the meeting, in his case with God. But it would be a mistake to associate his proposal exclusively to the religious meeting . Augustine himself will discover that meeting in intimacy is the true form of the human meeting . It is the human way of living. For him friendship is such meeting that it can be understood as one soul in two distinct bodies. When Augustine said "you created us for you" in reference letter to God, we can understand it as "you created us for meeting". We are beings of meeting in meeting of intimacies.
On the other hand, we think that today some people misunderstand what intimacy is and others simply ignore it. Intimacy is ignored when the person is understood exclusively from behavioral and affective levels. In such a case, it is even more evident that Education in interiority is misunderstood as Education in individuality. In such a case, if a person lives basically satisfied affectively speaking and with an acceptable level of operability in the different environments in which he/she has to develop, then he/she can be considered a healthy person and with what we could call a "basic success achieved". But, as we were saying, this bet is ignoring the intimacy of the person. Intimacy is more than a person's mere behavior or the psychological experience of such behavior. It is not that a new part or dimension needs to be added. Rather, in truth, human behavior is a behavior where intimacy is expressed as well as configured and affective experience is indeed the affective experience of a meeting with another, of a meeting of intimacies. While an animal may experience how the world affects it, the human being experiences how in the world it encounters other people.
The Education in interiority is misunderstood when it is affirmed that this consists in unifying one's life or its different dimensions (bodily, psychological, social, etc.), or that it is one more skill , or that it seeks for the student to find the inner self, or the search for inner balance (to avoid dispersion) or for one's feelings, or that interiority is the center that allows us to regulate our behavior (these and other similar expressions can be easily found on the internet and in certain academic works). At best, these are effects of the true Education on interiority, as when one speaks of the unification of the person. And in other cases, these interpretations are a deformation of the Education of interiority, as when it is said that this is the center that allows us to regulate behavior.
We have said in other articles of the emotional vocabulary that in the human being (and in life in general) from the lesser the higher is not reached, while from the higher not only everything is reached, but also the lesser shines with all its splendor. Another way of putting it is that from the effects of the intervention the objectives of the intervention are not achieved. For example, one effect of good relations in a house is that in that house there is a certain peace and people do not talk loudly. Peace is an effect of good coexistence, but good coexistence occurs because the house is a place of meeting interpersonal. If someone wants peace at home, he will make a mistake by making peace a goal. Peace is not self-explanatory. It is not that it is a bad desire, quite the contrary, but it is simply that it cannot be goal what is effect. The goal is to make the house a place of interpersonal meeting and peace will be (using the current terminology of quality processes) a good indicator. Make your house a place of meeting and there will be peace. On the other hand, if you focus on peace, you will probably have neither. Because, in addition, that search for peace, ends up unconsciously translating into the search for your peace.
It is the same with the search for the unification of life. Interiority is not for unification but for meeting, but if you find yourself, you unify. However, what is sought with so much relaxation and breathing exercise? What understanding of Education in interiority is behind these proposals? Seek balance and you will end up on edge; seek to find yourself in sincerity and welcome and you will discover yourself at peace.
We said that there is another complementary way of understanding the Education of interiority, which is to learn to act from it. In this case, every action is an action directed to meeting. The true Education in interiority implies that in every activity, subject or subject there can be a dialogue from intimacy to intimacy in all that it does. Therefore, to think that Education in interiority is a matter of a subject is a mistake. The Education in interiority occurs when, in the class of technology, the children are building their tower with paper sticks, because they use that construction for the interpersonal meeting . That there is a subject to be able to help the other subjects to have a meeting of intimacies seems to me very well and we can call that class of Education in the interiority. But to think that in that class we are educating in interiority is not to understand what intimacy and the dynamics of interiority are. In that class, if everyone understands well what it is to educate in interiority, it will be helping that in the whole process educational there is really a Education in interiority.
How are Education emotional and Education related to interiority? The opposite of a person understood as a being of interiority is to understand the person as a machine. The person is a machine when his behavior is explained as a reaction to an external event. When a child says "I hit him because he touched me", he is self-defining himself as a machine: "you touch, I hit". "If you don't want me to hit you, don't touch me." When the child says "I hit him because he was nervous", that child has already begun to discover that he is interiority. It is not that he has interiority, but that he is interiority. In one case, the child understands himself as a machine and in the other, he begins to understand himself as intimacy, because he begins to know his interiority.
If in the emotional Education we discover that in each emotion happens the convergence of the complexity of all our life, then the emotional Education is a financial aid to the Education in the interiority understood as meeting, because the person is not a machine. But, when the emotional Education is understood as emotional control because emotion is what is awakened in me due to the presence of something, then a Education in interiority understood as the romantic and idealized search for the inner and false self is being fostered. In this sense, a certain way of understanding the emotional Education leads to a certain way of understanding the Education in interiority. We see that there are different anthropological conceptions feeding each of the two proposals.
Let us look at an example of the relationship between Education emotional and Education in the interiority. Some people talk about "toxic people"; we talk about "toxic situations". If we say toxic people, we attribute the toxicity to the other. The other is the toxic person and his presence makes me sick. The emotional Education will seek to deploy partner-emotional skills to protect itself from that toxin and the Education in the interiority will seek that inner self that is safe from the toxin and balances itself. But if we talk about toxic situations, everything changes. Toxicity is not attributed to the other, but rather, living the way we live and doing what we do in the way and with the objectives we have, we live the relationship with the other as if it were toxic, but the other is not toxic. In such a case, the emotional Education will seek to help the person to discover why he/she lives that relationship in that way and, for this, he/she will need to know his/her vital state, his/her way of living, understanding and relating and from there he/she will be able to consider how to improve the relationship with the other, because the other is not toxic. And the Education in the interiority will consist of helping to discover the deep desires that we have of meeting and that it is precisely this meeting frustrated what is hurting us. Life, in interiority and exteriority, is a place of meeting.