Use of self is the ability to accurately see oneself in relationship with others and respond in such a way that shifts the current situation towards greater health and productivity.
Interactions happening in any group (two or more people) have constantly shifting dynamics. Everyone creates and is being created moment by moment. In this milieu one must choose when and how to act in the service of creating a healthy group. One increases their use of self by building an observer self that can identify these shifting dynamics, differentiate self from others, and build interactive skills to address those dynamics in a non-blaming way.
Use of self includes understanding one's reactions, motivations, and biases, which is critical in leadership, consulting, and in life! This ensures that one helps the person, group, or organization work through their issues rather than, consciously or unconsciously, imposing one's own issues or denying their existence.
This means having a solid set of models to use in different situations and building the capacity to apply them by “being” the model rather than teaching or lecturing about the model, although sometimes that may be important as well. LIOS students build and use knowledge of systems thinking, clarity of authority, healthy conflict, and other models to raise issues constructively with intention to solve the roots of the problems that confound individuals, groups, and organizations.
LIOS builds use of self by doing deep exploration into one’s personal history (the family, culture, and environment one grew up in) which is the source of one’s reactions to authority, patterns of conflict, and beliefs about all things. Students use these learnings to accelerate their journey of separating their own issues from others which, paradoxically, creates a greater connection to all and adds freedom to move with ease in many more situations. People with a strong use of self can act freely in tense situations by making clear statements about what they think, feel, and want and by tuning into and articulating what others think, feel, and want.
The bottom line: We live in fields of relationships. The self is not a fixed entity but rather an entity being constantly influenced and constantly influencing. With awareness one can be conscious of this, open to learning, and fluid—not rigid–in one’s responses to others.