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Four Situational Realities


"The human being and all his capabilities and forms of expression

are inseparably linked to the existence of others,

just as he is linked to cosmic facts and to the demands of this earth."


-Alfred Adler


It is a fair question to ask about the origins of Contribution, Cooperation, Connection and Community. These "tasks" are derived from the realities of our existence on the planet earth.  From the raw existence of our life on planet earth, we encounter this experience as four subjective realties. In return, we actively behave by constructing our impressions, interpreting our situation and generating our unique responses. Our social interest compensations lead to a healthy "community feeling" known originally in Adlerian psychology as "gemeinschaftsgefuhl."  Alternatively, our choice of "individualistic superiority" and social Darwinism leads to our destruction as a civilized society. This is our creative power exercised in our lives, both individually and as a group.(1) Of the three major systems comprising what became known as "depth psychology" (Freud, Jung and Adler), Adlerian psychology is the only major theoretical system that understands human behavior leading us to the universal human need for a democratic society.


The four situational realities are:


Reality #1: Born on planet earth in motion:

The planet earth is in motion and therefore, all that is on the planet is in motion.(2) This fact requires a “movement” response from all livings things in the form of activity. Our human response is goal oriented and is conceptualized in the form of four basic tasks of life (self, relations, work and community), where each task has an independent psychological goal (significance, belonging, usefulness and stability). These tasks / goals are derived from the four realities that exist as we find ourselves on the planet earth in the vast universe. All interest in “motivation” is but as interest in how we respond to life, as the word “movement” is derived from the same language source as “motivation.” Our use of energy is toward striving from deficit to success, from felt “minus” to a felt “plus” position. We strive to develop the self, create belonging and achieve a solution for basic needs, that create the impression of increased security and a higher quality of life, in the context of our desire for stability as goal using the task of community.

Reality #2: Born with needs not provided:

We exist on the thin and muddy crust of a planet that does not provide essential food and shelter, except for our efforts. We must put forth individual effort, create cooperative group efforts, and contribute to providing shelter and food to reduce our anxiety about surviving as an individual and as a species. Existential anxiety is a response to our doubts that basic needs will be met into the future. In response to uncertainty, this kind of basic effort is most easily observed during times of natural disasters, when it is easy to see the spirit of “pulling together” and the benefit of neighbors helping neighbors. In short, we must activity work and be useful with others to continue our own existence and perpetuate the human species. Beyond this, we work to create a higher quality of life.

Reality #3: Born as unitary individuals:

We are born by separating from a mother as helpless and dependent infants, immediately needing others to survive, as nature has not provided us with the biological equipment to survive alone. The initial experience of the “social feeling” in relations with others is the first experience of security for the helpless infant, a deep source of relations security leading us to solve the unpleasant feeling of separateness.(3) Having co-evolved with all others from our birth, we are social beings, socially embedded and we have a life-long desire to belong in the context of these relations. Due to the reality of death, we must replicate ourselves by conceiving and birthing children in the context of sex, love, family and community relationships.(4) We have a deep wish to belong with others and are constantly motivated to satisfy this desire.

Reality #4: Born as helpless infants:

We are born as unique but helpless individuals and possess a continuous desire (a striving) to be competent and significant among others throughout our lives and make efforts to overcome basic inferiority feelings. Our uniqueness means we are creative in our subjective interpretations about life and we respond uniquely to movement. We create unified meanings to life and all of our thoughts, actions, feelings, physiology, memories and dreams lead toward unified goals as we create a unique life-style. We are each a whole system, undivided, and are differentiated by our self-created guiding themes. Who we are is important to us and our task of self-development toward competence and the goal of being unique among others is always motivating for us.(5) We strive to find our place in the world and desire that it be a uniquely recognized existence. Happiness will be experienced if such an existence is also socially useful with an interest in relations with others.

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