Four “Required” Conditions for Creative Interchange (CI) – Part IV



Overview and Context Setting

This document continues to morph in the process of being written. The basic structure for differentiating the creative interchange (CI) process remains the same. Dr. Henry Nelson Wieman identified the process a little over 100 years ago and I became a part of his work 50 years ago. Henry focused on four characteristics of the process. The four characteristics include; 1) Interchange, currently called Authentic Interacting, 2) Appreciative Understanding, 3) Integration, currently called Creative Integrating and 4) Transformation, currently called, Continual Transformation. The four CI characteristics have been described in greater detail previously.

My work since 1966 has been to research and discover conditions, that when present, facilitate the CI characteristics. My search has been motivated by the notion of finding the 20% that makes the 80% difference in facilitating the process. The four underlying conditions are; A) Awareness, B) Appreciation, C) Creation and D) Commitment/Motivation.

Creation (Creative Cognition)

CI condition C acts as catalyst for transforming, integrating and stabilizing CI characteristics 1) Authentic Interacting, 2) Appreciative Understanding and 4) Continual Transforming. Condition C Creation provides data and information for trans-forming and expanding the created self. It enables Characteristic 3 (Creative Integrating) in deconstructing, reconfiguring, reconstructing and stabilizing the created self. It makes information and knowledge from conditions A Awareness and B Appreciation adaptable, usable and practical. It does this by generating a cognitive and affective environment for ideas, images, feelings, information and knowledge can be transfigured and reconfigured creatively in awareness, uncertainty, curiosity, ambiguity, absurdity and appreciation.

Such creative diverging, converging and emerging result in a creative interchange that initiates, builds, reinvents and revitalizes the created self. It is a process of disconnecting and reconnecting creatively. The word connecting comes from the Latin, con, together + nectere, to bind, to join and to fasten together. Data, information and knowledge can be connected in any number of ways. The intention and context in which it is connected determines its interpretation and meaning for the created self. This is why the same word in one context means one thing to one person and something quite different for another. This means what makes perfect sense and is logical in the mental model of one person can be perceived as nonsense and illogical in another’s. Such differences become the basis for disagreeing, polarizing, and conflicting. 

How long it takes to integrate and internalize new information and knowledge is a function of intention, appreciation, attention, focus and repetition. The CI process is accelerated or compromised by one’s capacity to creatively integrate diverging, converging, reconfiguring and emerging ideas, images, interpretations and meanings. If condition B Appreciation and A/B [the entanglement of conditions A Awareness and B Appreciation] are rigid and resistant to change due to fear of ambiguity, uncertainty and absurdity, the created self will resist “letting go” and “going with the flow.

A variety of rationalizations can be generated to defend and maintain the status quo. This occurs when people are invested in being “right” and/or remaining safe in their comfort zone. The need to be “right” is averse to being changed. The change is perceived as “wrong” or harmful. Most people fail to see any sense, reason or logic in being vulnerable to being wrong. Assuming correctness is preferable to risking being wrong.

Linear Thinking

Linear thinking is “straight” line thinking. The lines become boundaries for defining the limits of our mental models. Straight-line thinking is often referred to as in-the-box-thinking. It defines what many refer to as their “comfort zone.” As stated above, there is no single way of connecting data and putting it in-formation and inventing knowledge. Linear reasoning involves sequential thinking, where ideas are assumed to follow one another in a logical progression.

It produces a sense of cause-and-effect between thoughts, beliefs, values and perceptions. Such thinking is assumed to be rational, logical and “factual”. Ideas, beliefs, values, et al become true or false, fact or fiction, logical or illogical, rational or irrational. This is the basis for “either/or” thinking. It is dualistic and subject/object oriented. It becomes the primary way of thinking for the created self.

With such a choice, more and less become more or less, agree and disagree become agree or disagree. The same goes for right/wrong, good/bad. The preference to be right has a significant impact on cognitive function. Judgments become final, sides are taken, win or lose competitiveness becomes dominate and things like cooperation and collaboration are compromised. CI is obstructed.

At this point people, ideas and events are separated and disconnected from one another. This separation forms the boundaries for “in-the-box-thinking.” People, things and situations are either in-the-box “or” out-of-the-box. A judgment is made that something or someone is a threat or a benefit. Clear lines of division are drawn and sides can be taken. The basis for polarization, argumentation and conflict are established.

Linear thinking can be inductive and/or deductive. Inductive thinking moves from part-to-whole, from the specific toward the general and from concrete to abstract. It moves from information toward anticipation and prediction. Inductive thinking is related to the word induce, which in its Indo-European root deuk- means to lead, to pull, and to draw out. It is a pursuit of discovering the further implications of an idea or perspective. Inductive reasoning and logic assume a causal relationship between one part or fact and the next in the sequence. It is cause-and-effect thinking that is moves from part-to-part and part-to-whole.

Deductive thinking, on the other hand, moves from whole-to-part, from theory to observation and from the wider toward the narrower, from the abstract to the concrete. It is assumed there is a cause-and-effect relationship that provides continuity from whole-to-part, as well as, part-to-part. Like inductive thinking, deductive thinking defines the structure and boundaries of our mental models. It provides guidelines for the narratives and stories we construct to explain and rationalize our findings, values, beliefs and meanings.

The combination of beliefs and narratives outline our current understanding of who we are, who others are and how situations are defined and understood. These stories become the content of our “box,” “mental model,” “paradigm” or frame of reference. Our boxes or everyday perspectives act as filters for our meaning making. In-the-box thinking is the basic way we live our day-to-day lives. It provides the borders of our consciousness. It becomes our created self. Parents, relatives, educators, peers and social media are the primary providers of our cause-and-effect-in-the-box-thinking self.

Nonlinear Thinking

Nonlinear thinking is thinking in straight lines, “curvy” lines and beyond lines. The lines can be any shape moving in any direction. Nonlinear includes inductive and deductive reasoning, as well as, what I call “abductive” thinking. Such thinking is thought by most people to be irrational. As a condition of CI, abductive reasoning includes metaphoric, metamorphic and “morphogenic” cognition.

Abductive thinking can be random and spontaneous. It augments reason with imagination, fact with fiction and words with images. It introduces uncertainty, ambiguity, ambivalence, absurdity, as well as, rational, non-rational and irrational cognition. It relies on “in-the-box,” “out-of-the-box” and “beyond-the-box” thinking and reasoning.

Nonlinearity uses differences and similarities to generate and create novel and original connections among data, information and current knowledge. It can use, bend, break and ignore boundaries. Such thinking supports flexibility, fluidity, flow and adaptability. It uses data and information from CI conditions A Awareness B Appreciation and A/B (entanglement of A and B) and combines and mixes them in a crucible with ambiguity, uncertainty and randomly stirs them into a myriad of shapes, sizes and options. Similarities and differences are mixed and matched, configured and reconfigured to birth new boundaries and new mental models.

Metaphorically speaking, it is where the medieval alchemist’s melting pot transmutes the lead of the old mindset into the gold of the new one. I call this process “metamorphic” cognition. It transforms thinking, feeling, remembering and anticipating into “holistic” or “synergistic” cognition. Such thinking is natural in healthy children. They have the capacity and ability to put on different mental models without becoming attached exclusively to any one of them. It is the place where their creative self and emerging created self-interface.

It is the place where play and work come to dance, embrace and enrich each other. It is where “either/or” and “both/and” are complimentary. It is the realm where the unconditional, “what if,” “just suppose,” “why not” and “I wish” are normative. There is no threat of ought or should. It is where potentiality, possibility and choice converge to energize and motivate creating, learning and expressing. It is the space of holistic and synergistic cognition.

Holistic Thinking

Creative holistic thinking promotes a unique and seamless process of divergent, convergent and emergent cognition interchange. It is the creative and created self resonate in coherence. It is the spawning ground for the emergence of the created self within the creative self, nonduality births duality, consciousness appears in awareness, nonjudgmental differentiates judgmental, observing and perceiving embrace, intrinsic worth gives way to extrinsic esteem, feeling morphs into emotion, linear takes preference over nonlinear thinking and non-striving dissolves into striving. It is the home of paradox and paradigm. For the small child it is where “pre-box-thinking,” innate life learning, trust, openness, curiosity, embracing ambiguity, creativity, interdependence and tenacity meet the confining characteristics of cultural and social conditioning and shaping.

Speaking metaphorically, as some scientists are suggesting, our moon was ripped from the earth in a catastrophic event so our adaptive consciousness was conditioned away from our original holistic awareness. It is where the CI process encounters its earliest disruption. Holistic thinking is metamorphic “beyond-the-box-thinking.” It transcends and uses both linear and nonlinear cognition. Such thinking approximates the “fuzzy logic” and the disambiguation process used by computers when making an Internet search. The connections between data, information, knowledge, people, things and events become simultaneous and Omni-directional.

Today many physicists accept that, “everything-is-related-to-everything.”

As far as we know, the human capacity to relate anything to everything uses linear, nonlinear and holistic cognition without known limits. This supports Wieman’s contention “that the human mind is capable of indefinite expansion in the range of what it can know, appreciate, [imagine] and control.” This capacity further provides a radical openness to where a single cause can have any number of effects and any effect can produce any number of causes. This raises questions about only single cause-and-effect relationships.

This suggest that information and knowledge, as we know it at any given time, is only one way, out of an indefinite number of ways, it can be configured. It suggests everything can be multi-causal and multi-effectual. This kind of radical openness leads to where awareness becomes conscious in the human brain and neurons commence generating and networking. It is literally a journey to the source of cognition as currently understood. This is where awareness and consciousness mingle and are no longer distinguishable, let alone separated.

Holistic thinking accelerates “peak experiences” and “aha moments.” It fosters wonder, adventure, experimentation, exploration, excitement and anticipation. It opens a vast area between and beyond our deepest assumptions and most cherished values and beliefs. Even our experience of time and space are altered, awareness and consciousness fuse, the abstract and concrete merge as two aspects of the same thing. It is beyond certainty and uncertainty, ambiguity and precision.

Many identify such moments with religious experience or spiritual transcendence. There is a sense of past and future converging into the NOW and a feeling of oneness, unity, and wholeness. It is the highest human experience of satisfaction. It’s been called by many names; love, peace, joy, fulfillment, bliss, happiness and the list goes on and on and on. Nevertheless, condition C (Creative Cognition) is only the beginning of the process of emergence. It initiates the convergence that morphs into emergence. It also requires commitment and motivation to complete the transformation of the adaptive created self. That requires CI condition D (Committed Motivation).

Four “Required” Conditions for Creative Interchange (CI) – Part III



The conditions for creative interchange, like its characteristics, can be distinguished but not separated. One aspect of awareness is a generalized “feeling’’ of worth or worthiness. This feeling may be a sense of wellness and vitality at the physical level, a peaceful and positive orientation toward life at the psychological level, compassion at the social level and joy at the spiritual level. Like awareness, this feeling is all pervasive and inclusive. It is the source of our experience and feeling worthiness and intrinsic worth. As we become less aware so does our feeling of intrinsic worth. This sets up a craving in our body, a longing in our heart and a striving or addiction in our brains to recover our “original experience” of wholeness, fullness, wellness and worthiness.

We are born aware and largely nonjudgmental with a capacity to observe and make distinctions in our physical surroundings and social environment. Early on, and some argue even prior to birth, awareness starts to be “conditioned” into conscious perception. This is a movement from awareness toward consciousness, from observing to perceiving. Observation allows distinctions, while perception separates and divides them into differences. Those differences are further differentiated into beneficial and/or harmful, agree/disagree, inclusion/exclusion good/bad, and right/wrong. Perception is essential for adapting and surviving in the everyday world. It establishes preferences, assigns meaning and develops values.

Appreciation comes from the Latin appretiare, to appraise. In a fraction of a second, interpretation, evaluation and decision transform awareness and observation into conscious perception. “Both/and” awareness is repackaged into “either/or” consciousness. This is a movement from “pre-box” thinking into “in-the-box” thinking. The way we appreciate erects barriers and provides boundaries that determine what is safe to be included and what could be harmful and needs to be excluded. We include what we value and exclude what we devalue. Our preferences polarize differences. Both/and and either/or become both/and or either/or. In short, “and” morphs into “or.” Good or bad, right or wrong, positive or negative, beneficial or harmful are polarized. It is perceived to be one or the other, not both. This shift, this split has numerous consequences, both positive and negative.

We assume if someone or something is good she/he/it cannot be bad at the same time. You must be one or the other, not both. In reality the opposite is true. Any idea or situation can be perceived as positive and negative. The word appreciation is associated in most instances with our preferences and what we perceive to be positive. This blinds us to the unanticipated, the unforeseen consequences and the collateral damage that can result from looking only at our preferences. An unintended consequence of this way of thinking is that we become more conscious at the expense of remaining both aware and conscious. We place a greater appreciation on being conscious, rather than, remaining aware and conscious.

Observing and perceiving, awareness and consciousness, feeling and emoting, responding and reacting can coexist and be integrated creatively. Such coexistence can be seen in small children. The emergence of consciousness or “me” as distinct from “I” are not mutually exclusive. Wieman said in Man’s Ultimate Commitment,

“One of the supreme endowments of [humankind] is that we can be conscious of [our self] and pass judgment on [our] own worth. But appreciative understanding of unique individuality is at a minimum in most social relations. Hence one is driven to protect [one’s] self-esteem (italics mine) against wrong evaluations, which others make of the self. I may reject their evaluations, but to protect my own sense of personal worth (italics mine) in the face of them, I am led to judge myself in ways equally mistaken.”

Wieman’s distinction between self-worth and self-esteem is critical. Awareness of self-worth is felt from within, while self-esteem is experienced as coming from ourside-in, from others. Wieman continues,

“It is a vital moral necessity to achieve some degree of correctness in one’s evaluation of one’s self. The common moral predicament is that one cannot do this in the face of all the misunderstandings and wrong judgments about oneself. Our evaluation of our self is distorted. This leads to false pictures not only of me but of others, of social conditions and causes, of ideas and standards, of [my] deeds, because these all must be fitted into the patterns by which I protect my self-esteem.”

As a response to this dilemma Wieman states,

“In this condition there is one thing which an individual can do which can deliver [her/him] from much of its [destructive consequences] and enable them to [become] more nearly right than they otherwise can be. [We] can [become aware and] admit freely and fully that [we are] in this predicament.”

In short,

“When we [are aware and] know that [our] evaluations are distorted by unconscious processes operating in [our] own person, [we] are partially liberated from them. An error which one knows to be an error is already on the way to correction. When [we] recognize this moral predicament as [our] own, [we] can examine [our] judgments critically and seek out situations in which more reliable [experiences and] intuitions can break through [our] ego system.” This “breakthrough” is enabled when conscious perception (italics mine) is enriched with nonjudgmental observation.”

Of primary concern is our excessive identification with “me-consciousness” to the point we become unconscious and unaware of “I-awareness.” Awareness opens us to our transcendent “intuition”, while attachment to the “ego system” or “me-consciousness” keeps us protective of current interpretations, ways of thinking, meanings, values and beliefs. Perception is driven to validate current understanding and belief. Our “ego system,” or created self becomes increasingly unaware of our creative self. The ideal condition for CI is a creative integrating of the creative and created self, of intuition and interpretation, becoming and being, self-worth and self-esteem, feeling and emotion and responding and reacting.


Self-appreciation involves being aware and accepting our intrinsic worth. Intrinsic worth is not something to be earned or merited. It is not something derived from the outside. It does not increase, nor can it be diminished. No one can give us intrinsic worth and no one can take it away. It is the “felt quality” of awareness and of life itself. It is not something to be earned, but something to which we “awaken.” A person does not have more or less intrinsic worth. What they can have is awareness and consciousness of its presence. Intrinsic worth is something core to what it means to be human. At the level of the creative self we are the same and at the level of our created self we are unique.

With the onset of a created self, a self-concept or image emerges based on external feedback and conditioning. Our self-concept is predicated on the notion that self-esteem is derived from acceptance, approval, accolades and applause from others. It is internalized and becomes the criteria for how we judge our worth. Our esteem is based on the assumption that worth must be earned, and is rooted in the assessments provided by others. Unfortunately, as we become conscious and focused on our extrinsic worth we do so at the expense of being aware of our intrinsic worth. Extrinsic worth is based on the assumption that worth can be given, earned and merited and can be withheld and taken away, it is in fact self-esteem. This sets up a goal to gain approval and avoid rejection. Intrinsic worth and extrinsic esteem are perceived to be mutually exclusive.

Instead of both/and our worth becomes either/or. We’re worthwhile if we “get it right” and we are unworthy if we “get it wrong.” Our worth becomes conditional. So for most of us life is reduced to getting everything right and risking rejection in just about everything we think, feel and do. The potential hurt we experience with self-rejection becomes a constant threat and an ongoing source of stress. This threat serves to focus our attention on avoiding rejection and sets up a continual striving to gain extrinsic value from others. In the process of continual striving for extrinsic self-esteem we become less aware of our intrinsic worth. Much of what we do is to gain esteem and avoid rejection. This incessant drive for self-esteem and avoidance of rejection is the basis for most of our addictions, compulsions, obsessions and phobias.

Other Appreciation

Other appreciation involves accepting the intrinsic worth and extrinsic esteem of others. They, like our selves, are intrinsically worthwhile human beings. Their intrinsic worth does not increase or diminish. Their intrinsic worth cannot be earned or merited. They have an original creative self and a unique created self. Their creative self observes like our own and their created self perceives from their unique perspective and experience as does ours. At the intrinsic level we are alike. The same life force and awareness flows through us all. This life force is in fact the Creative Interchange process that flows through us all (cf. ‘Flow’). At the extrinsic level no two of us are alike. We are all similar and alike and we are all distinct and unique. If we identify only with our created self we focus primarily on our differences. When we are aware and identify with our intrinsic creative self we are free to focus on our mutual similarities, as well as, our unique differences.

A required condition of creative interchange is our commitment to be aware and conscious of our worth and the worth of others. If we devalue, for any reason, ourselves and/or others the CI process is compromised. CI requires mutual intrinsic respect and a commitment to creating ways to make any extrinsic differences mutually supportive and inclusive. A consequence of such respect is the intent to listen and appreciatively understand another’s perspective from their frame of reference and not from our own preferences, values, meanings and beliefs. When we have the intent to understand others authentically and appreciatively we foster the CI process. It is the concerted effort to be empathic and to simply observe others as they are not as we are. It is being aware of what we are thinking, feeling and/or emoting, interpreting and/or reacting to what we perceive.

Appreciation, in such a context, means perceiving both the positive and the negative in ideas, perspectives and situations. It is the ability to think and evaluate in “either/or” AND in “both/and” possibilities. Only by looking at the full-spectrum of positive and negative aspects of an idea, person, thing or situation can you achieve authentic appreciative understanding. “Me-consciousness” “splits” differences into opposites, paradoxes and polarities. Polarization means the opposites are seen as exclusive, rather than, potentially inclusive. CI is inclusive except in those instances where inclusion of an idea, thing or person(s) will obstruct on-going integration and transformational change.

Situation Appreciation

Situational appreciation applies “both/and” observation, perception and cognition with full-spectrum evaluation and interpretation to situations and events. It assumes there are varying degrees of accuracy and inaccuracy in all perceptions and evaluations. It accepts that all interpretations are subject to error and correction. Situational appreciation is related to the notion of scientific objectivity. Its aim is to reduce bias in one’s perception, thinking and behavior. It seeks the “facts or truth” about “reality” in any given situation.

Four “Required” Conditions for Creative Interchange (CI) – Part II

The CI Condition for Renewing Authenticity – Condition A


We were born with our Creative Self and we are conditioned into a created self. Our Creative Self enters the world aware. That awareness is conditioned into a conscious created-self. They are not two “separate selves.” They are two aspects of the same self. Unfortunately, in the conditioning process most of us end up being conscious of and identifying with the conscious aspect of our Creative Self. In short, we become conscious at the expense of remaining aware of our awareness.

Awareness is non-dual, nonjudgmental, nonlinear and non-striving. It involves transcendence, freedom, openness and trust. The feeling quality is one of calm, peace, joy and what many in eastern culture call ananda, “bliss.” It is not unfamiliar to young children, though it is virtually impossible to put into words such an experience. It has been referred to as an “oceanic feeling,” egoless-ness, peak experience, in the zone and the list goes on. More everyday words are awe and wonder.

Mystics and contemplatives have described it in many ways, in many languages, at many times and places. Nevertheless, it remains somewhat of an enigma for many in both western and eastern culture. Awareness does not lend itself to words, concepts, explanations and/or definitions. The next pages are an attempt to catch that concept into writing. The most common and popular word for it in modern parlance is “mindfulness” although; the word has many different meanings for different people.

The human infant is born authentic, aware, trusting and open. One of the key elements of this trust and openness is the capacity to observe. Observing can be distinguished from perceiving, but not separated from it. Perception includes observing, but adds conscious subject-object divisions, positive-negative judgments, linear either/or reasoning and striving for different meanings as we adapt to the world and its survival requirements. Observing remains non-subject/object, nonjudgmental, nonlinear and non-striving.

As we grow older and develop, part of our adapting to the world, perception becomes dominant and we focus more on being conscious at the expense of being aware. The adaptive conditioning process tends to dictate our intentions and consequently where we focus our attention. Parents, teachers, peers and society in general expect and demand that we focus our attention on how, what, and who will provide acceptance applause and praise. This is both a positive AND a negative process. In helping the child adapt the tendency has been to do so at the expense of the child remaining aware of the distinction between awareness and consciousness. I refer to this distinction as I-awareness and me-consciousness. “I,” the Creative-Self, observes while “me,” the created adaptive-self, perceives. We are capable of both observing and perceiving. Nevertheless, we are conditioned to identify primarily with me-consciousness, rather than I-awareness.

The distinction can now be made between honesty, which is a function of the conscious created self and the authenticity of the aware Creative-Self. Awareness is also being aware of being conscious, thus includes consciousness. Consciousness is seldom conscious of being aware. In other words, when the created self is honest it is only honest from the perspective of the conditioned created-self. The created self remains relatively unaware of the Creative-Self.

The integrity of the created-self is consistent up to a certain point. Because awareness includes consciousness the Creative-Self can include both the contents of consciousness and the observations and awareness of the Creative-Self. This additional quality forms the basis for authenticity. Authenticity is both “I” AND “me.” creative-self_created-self2

It can be stated that the Creative-Self can be aware of being aware AND of “me” being conscious. Consciousness, on the other hand, is seldom conscious of “I” being aware of “me” being conscious. That is why someone can be honest without being totally authentic. Being conscious is only part of the story.


Self-awareness or “I-awareness” becomes evident when we learn to observe our thinking, feeling, believing, valuing and behaving without judging. The simple act of observing is metacognitive and can make our thinking, interpreting, judging, deciding and perceiving intentional, as well as, focus our attention. Self-awareness allows us to transcend normal “me-consciousness” with its internal chatter or as some like to call it, our “monkey mind.”

Self-awareness observes how we interpret, anticipate and react toward a person, situation or event. The majority of us have grown unaware of our capacity to observe. We focus attention on what and how we are saying, feeling, and doing things, rather than, noticing how and where we are focusing our attention. We identify with and become our thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviors and are unaware that we can also observe ourselves being the “identifier.” Excess identification with our thoughts, emotions and actions is deceptive. It is paramount that we remember that being aware and conscious is part of who we are. We have the capacity to observe where and to what degree we focus our attention.

There is another distinction worth noting. That is the distinction between feeling and emoting. Our culture is preoccupied with emotion these days. I relate the term feeling to touch, to a tactile or physical sensation. An example of this would be when someone feels his or her interest in something or someone is rising. Feelings, like joy and peace, fall into this category as well. Emotion, which gets most of the hype these days, comes from the Latin ex- out of; away from; on the outside + movēre, to move. There is a great deal of “drama” associated with emotional states. Emotion is a reaction to someone or situation in which there is a strong positive or negative affinity or attachment.

Self-awareness can be focused outward on what we are expressing, saying and doing and it can be focused inward on thinking, feeling and even on awareness itself. It is one thing to be aware of what’s in our consciousness and quite another to become aware of being aware. As mentioned previously, awareness and consciousness are two aspects of the same thing. Awareness is free from and transcends the limitations of our mental models. To transcend means literally to “pass beyond the limits.” Our mental model or mindset imposes limits by filtering data and information through presuppositions interpretation, meanings, values and beliefs. These filters limit and shape our perception. Awareness passes beyond these limits.

The word transcend comes from the Latin trāns– meaning across, beyond, through, to cross over + scandere, to climb; to leap and to jump. Awareness moves, climbs and leaps beyond our everyday presuppositions, meanings, understanding, beliefs and values. It is not bound by our intentions, strivings and judgments. It is the realm of intuition and the creative self. integrated creatively the creative and created self become mutually supportive and transformational. Consciousness is informed by awareness and interpretation is augmented by intuition. It is only when we have over identified with our created self and become unaware of our creative self, or even fearful of it, that creative interchange is obstructed.

There is a third characteristic of awareness, which moves beyond the focus of this discussion. As stated above, awareness can be focused on our outer world and/or the internal dialogue or conscious self-talk of our inner world. The mystics talk about a third focus that is beyond or transcends both our outer and inner psychological worlds. It is often referred to as spiritual. This is a journey into the depths of awareness itself. The attention is focused intentionally on awareness. This is the world of contemplatives, meditators, mystics, yogi’s, and the likes. It is only mentioned here to indicate that such a dimension is part of our ancient traditions.

Other awareness

What was discussed in self-awareness can be applied to others as well. It is important to be aware that we perceive others, more than, observe them. This means we are likely to perceive others as we are and not observe them as they are. This interferes we our ability to be empathic and achieve appreciative understanding of another’s frame-of-reference or mental model. Being aware of others keeps us more “objective” and authentic as we share our perspectives and listen to theirs. The more aware we are of the interpretations we are making, meanings we’re assigning and projecting and the conclusions we are drawing the more accurate our understanding of their intentions, words and behvior will be.

It is critical that we not attribute motives and/or intentions to others. We must be acutely aware of our tendencies to lose focus and stop “paying” attention to what and how others are communicating. We must listen and be aware of the difference between what they intend and how we interpret, evaluate and react. Sustained attention is difficult and requires discipline. The monkey mind provides an endless array of distractions in a matter of seconds. Most people are in the habit of following their monkey mind distractions and remain unaware that they are no longer seeing or hearing what is being said and is happening. They are no longer present to the conversation.

Situational awareness

The distinction of observing and not simply perceiving events, circumstances and situations is an extension of self and other awareness. Observing distinctions without immediately interpreting and evaluating them is difficult. It is imperative to be objective in contrast to stereotyping and projecting. The more we observe the greater the probability we will respond and not automatically react to our interpretations based on potentially erroneous assumptions and generalizations.

Respond comes from the Latin spondēre, to make a solemn promise, to pledge. Reactions are primarily habitual and unconscious, while responses include reflection and choices. Reactions are on autopilot; responses involve choices that are consistent with one’s values, promises and commitments. Responses originate in our authenticity. Reactions result from our conditioned habit patterns.

In the case of creative interchange responding originates from an intention to “see” and “hear” what actually is being communicated prior to any interpreting, assigning of meaning and/or evaluating what, if anything, is happening. Reacting is a “knee jerk” action with little or no conscious intention involved. It is initiated simply by an habitual emotional pattern.


Four “Required” Conditions for Creative Interchange (CI) – Part I

Introduction: The Process and Conditions

According to Wieman, the creative interchange process is innate and can expand and transform the human mind indefinitely. Every child, when conditions are favorable, has the capacity to engage, to a greater or lesser degree, in creative interchange. These conditions facilitate the four characteristics of the CI process discussed in the previous section. These four conditions include; 1) awareness/ trust to foster authentic interacting, 2) curiosity/valuation to foster appreciative understanding, 3) playfulness/creativity a to foster creative integrating and 4) tenacity/commitment to foster continual transforming. These are characteristics of healthy infants and small children from day 1 to approximately 7 to 9 years of age.

Unfortunately, these intrinsic conditions undergo modification and are compromised through a number of conditioning tactics introduced in early childhood by parents, peers, formal educators, media and a myriad of other social and cultural interactions. When these conditions are compromised the CI process is inhibited and/or obstructed and the on-going transformation is retarded. Just what and how this happens will be discussed in a later segment.

“Healthy” infants are aware, vigilant and alert to the world around them. They trust and wonder, are open to adventure, are curious and explore, experiment and discover. There is a thrust to expand the edges of their world. It is associated with the senses of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. It’s a period of noticing and observing. It is a time of playful fascination, flexibility, fluidity and flow. It is coupled with preferences and satisfaction, mistakes and failures, tenacity and learning. These conditions are an integral part of the CI process. As Wieman pointed out, it’s a time of expanding the range or what we can know, appreciate, imagine and control.

Nevertheless, such openness sooner or later meets with lesser or greater degrees of resistance and rejection by parents and others who take part in preparing us for adulthood. The innate conditions that support and sustain CI are gradually re-conditioned to insure that the child can and will function “appropriately” within the prescribed conditions required for membership in a family, group and community. The child is taught to confine their intrinsic nature by conforming to the extrinsic requirements of group membership. They learn to avoid rejection and being ostracized. It is a struggle between an internal locus of control and the internalization of an external locus of control.

The child’s innate original-creative-self is conditioned to become a culturally acceptable adapted-created-self. This is the precise point at which a very important distinction can and must be made. It is the distinction between “I-awareness” of the creative-self and the developing “me-consciousness” of the created-self. Self-awareness and self-consciousness are two aspects or qualities of the same thing. Awareness and consciousness can be differentiated, but not separated. The child’s innate awareness undergoes social conditioning and increasingly becomes conscious. The failure to make this distinction becomes a problem when the child identifies primarily, if not exclusively, with her/his me-consciousness at the expense of being self-aware. Conditioning tends to favor consciousness over awareness.

Awareness is alertness, a noticing, watchfulness, and wakefulness. Aware comes from the Indo-European wer- meaning watch out for, to guard, to respect, and feel awe for. Our word consciousness is derived from the Latin conscious: com, to share, together + scire, to know, to separate one thing from another. Its Indo-European root is skei– to cut, split, splitter, to slice. Our word science comes from the same root. Many people use awareness and consciousness interchangeably, I prefer to keep the distinction in order to be able to discuss differences between the creative and created self.

A further distinction between awareness and consciousness, suggests that awareness involves observing while consciousness involves perceiving. These two functions can be distinguished, but not separated. Observing, as used here, means, to be or become aware of, especially through careful and directed attention. It means to notice. Our word, observe comes from the Latin, ob-, over + servare– to keep, watch; see, to oversee. The Indo-European root ser1 means to protect, to preserve. Science champions the idea of being a “good observer.” This originally meant that we were “to protect” our observations, experiments, data and conclusions from excessive subjectivity, bias and preconceived ideas. The awareness aspect of CI is simply observing and noticing without bias, prejudice and/or stereotyping. In short, it is nonjudgmental.

Consciousness, on the other hand, perceives. Perception is a characteristic of awareness. It is awareness plus the intention to understand, to apprehend and give meaning to what is being observed. Our word perception comes from the Latin, per– meaning; to, or by each + capere, to seize. The Indo-European root kap means, to grasp, to have, hold and that which binds. Perception is an active stance in relationship to what is being seen, heard, touched, etc. Awareness is observing without “intending” to do anything with the observation. Consciousness is about making sense and providing meaning, about adapting and understanding what is being perceived. Creative interchange is optimized when there is an integration of observing (creative-self) and perceiving (created self). When this condition is present awareness and consciousness can be mutually supportive.

A child, under normal circumstances comes into the world aware. Through conditioning and domestication the child becomes less aware as they become more conscious. Awareness is a fundamental condition of CI. Consciousness involves preferences, which can foster or obstruct CI. There are four primary conditions, present in children that are inseparable from the CI process. All of these conditions are compromised to greater of lesser degrees in the process of becoming an adult. The following is a closer look at each of the conditions.