Adlerian Ideas: Seeking to be Useful
The Seventh of Nine Essays:
Wes Wingett PhD
Thank you for reading the writing that I am doing focusing on Adlerian psychology, I appreciate it. Alfred Adler’s theory and practice of psychology focused on the development of a positive and encouraging approach to life with a strong emphasis on cooperating with others to solve the social challenges of today and moving toward preventing problems where possible. Education, ethical practices, encouragement and empathy are some of tools of Adlerian psychology.
This essay will focus on the seventh principle of Adlerian psychology, namely, that people are looking for ways to be useful and when they cannot be useful, they shift to the useless side of life.
Here is a brief summary of the first six principles. People are social beings seeking ways to connect and contribute in families, schools, and communities. People are creative, responsive, and responsible for their thinking, emotions, and behaviors. People develop their individual view of themselves, others, and events and decide through the development of a private logic system how to proceed through life. People are holistic, indivisible creatures functioning as biological, psychological, sociological, and spiritual/philosophical beings. People are goal directed, seeking in early childhood a distinct purpose for living life in a meaningful and useful way contributing to the good of society. People throughout their life span are faced with challenges of living that require communication, co-operation, and contributions to family, schools, communities, and Adler added in his later writings to the cosmos.
Alfred Adler addressed the whole person in his writings, he considered the biological, the psychological, the sociological, the spiritual/philosophical aspects of the individual. Adler also focused his thinking on four stages of life, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and aging and that at each stage of life individuals are looking for ways to be useful, to contribute. When individuals are unable to contribute they become discouraged and shift to the useless side of live.
Several years ago, I was eating a late dinner with a group of friends in Focsani, Romania. It was nearly closing time and an employee was pulling out chairs and placing them on the tables. The employee was accompanied by a little girl of 3 or 4 and the little girl pulled out the chairs, so that her friend could put them on the tables for later cleaning of the floor. The little girl felt useful, she was helping, she was doing what needed to done. The employee or someone had taken the time to train the little girl to be helpful. Rudolf Dreikurs stressed strongly the need to take time for training.
Adolescents when in the process of acquiring a new skill of some kind, they might go through a sequence something like this: The first step in acquiring a new skill is to ask for help, the next step is to help self, and the third step is to help others. A trilogy of encouragement and usefulness might be: ) I need help, 2) I can help myself, and 3) I can help others. By helping others individuals can experience a sense of usefulness and contribution to the good of others.
Encouraged and positive thinking adults and aging seek to be useful throughout their lives. My mother decided early in her life that she was going to help others. When my mother, who was born in Nebraska to Danish immigrants, entered school, she spoke no English. She decided the first day of school that if the teacher was going to help her learn English that she was going to help others the rest of her life. She became a teacher in her late teens and taught elementary school for well over 30 years. When she was no longer able to care for herself, she moved to a long-term care facility where her goal was to help others. She helped others in many ways and became discouraged when she could no longer find anyone to help. She was unable to recognize that she was helping others be allowing them to help her.
Thank you for reading this essay.
I welcome questions and comments.
Please take care and be safe and help each other.
Seeking to be useful