Multidimensional Style

We are multidimensional people. This first means that we have a physical dimension that takes in our physical selves, the kinds of things we do and avoid doing, and the ways in which we deal with ourselves as physical/doing people. We have an emotional dimension that has to do with how we manage our emotions and feelings and how we understand and respond to the emotions and feelings of others. We have a moral dimension that has to do with our personal values, what we will do and what we will not do, what we think is okay and not okay, and how we manage ourselves as moral people. We also have a social dimension that has to do with being a friend, relating to other people, being involved in social activities, and other things related to our interpersonal relationships. Our sexual dimension has to do with how we handle ourselves sexually, how we see ourselves as sexual people, how we manage our sexual relationships, and how we treat others and expect to be treated sexually. We are also thinking people and have a cognitive or thinking dimension. This has to do with how we use logic and our intuitions, how we go about solving problems, how we go about trying to understand things around us, and how we use our minds and abilities to learn.

Our way of handling ourselves, what we think is important, and the impression we want to give to others within each of these dimensions go to make up our personal style. Please complete each of the sentences below, making one statement about yourself and your style. Try to make the statement true for you as you really are. You may finish the sentence in anyway that fits you.

1. Physically, I am. . .
2. Emotionally, I am. . .
3. Morally, I am. . .
4. Socially, I am. . .
5. Sexually, I am. . .
6. Cognitively, I am. . .

Check back to be sure that each statement represents a positive statement about you. If not, go back and refinish the statement, making a positive statement about yourself. It is your style you are talking about. Always think about what you have going for you first. There is plenty of time to think about the less flattering points.



The above activity facilitates interpersonal skill development in three areas. First, the focusing on the six dimensions helps the client to think in terms of her interpersonal participation in more specific terms than is usually the case for most individuals. They are inclined to think in terms of their behavior without understanding that they project themselves in multiple ways, with each dimension representing who they are as a function of self-perception and who they are in terms of perceptions of others. You will find that some individuals need assistance in looking at themselves physically, emotionally, morally, socially, sexually, and cognitively. Nonetheless, the activity will lead to the client's being more aware of herself and of her presentation to others.

Next, the activity facilitates the client's thinking about the multidimensional styles of other family members. For example, a client might begin to see that one family member acts more based on what is thought about something while another family member acts more on what is felt about it. One family member may think more in terms of the social or interpersonal implications of an incident while another family member thinks more in terms of the emotional implications. You will want to facilitate the use of the activity to highlight these differing ways of understanding family members.

In addition, it may be useful to have the client set up a grid with each family member listed down the left hand side and the six dimensions listed across the top. Each family member can simply be noted by a check mark in the column most applicable to her. In addition, the client could rate each family member on a five-point scale indicating how the family member functions within each of the six dimensions. The five point scale would consist of: 5 equals very strong emphasis, 4 equals strong emphasis, 3 equals medium emphasis, 2 equals weak emphasis, 1 equals very weak emphasis. Once the grid is completed, you may assist the client in thinking about the implications for the family of the completed grid.

Finally, the activity emphasizes the concept of style. Most people will intuitively understand the idea of style, especially if they are asked to note two or three people that they know in or out of the family that, from their point of view, have real style. Importantly, style is here understood as positive and represents the overall effect of self-projection to others. Three characteristics of style need emphasis: recognizability, definability, and predictability.

Style is recognizable. It is the general impression or idea of someone that develops and can be understood in terms of the six dimensions. The activity, of course, facilitates the client's recognizing her style but also facilitates recognition of style in others.

Style is definable. As a preliminary activity, you may want to have the client simply list those traits and characteristics of individuals that she finds to be the most positive, most appealing, the most characteristic of real style. The activity itself assists the client's defining her style in multidimensional terms.

Each of the responses in the activity should be positive, since one's style is a positive projection of self. Also, this positive orientation assists the client in looking at other family members in essentially positive terms. In this sense, Therapeutic Instruction begins maximizing and emphasizing the strengths and positive features within each family member and encourages a positive orientation to specific areas of family life.

Style is predictable. The underlying goal is to encourage the client to understand and take responsibility for her style. This responsibility necessarily involves developing and maintaining a consistent and positive self-projection. Predictability of style additionally means that the style of the individual does not change as a function of reactions of others, special circumstances, whether or not the client likes or is comfortable with what is going on at the time, or similarly externally initiated factors.

This point is emphasized by drawing attention to people with what might be thought of as pseudo style. These individuals appear to have style in terms of its recognizability and definability. The lack of predictability, however, shows that they are not taking the personal responsibility to project themselves consistently and with real style, regardless of the situation or circumstances.

Consciously accepting responsibility for self and self-projection is the intentional or 'on purpose' nature of real style. It is not something that comes about naturally, accidentally, or circumstantially. Style is a function of conscious self-awareness, self-examination, and intentional positive self-projection in the interest of more effective interpersonal involvement and relationships. It is something one reflects with style, all the time, on purpose.

By Gary A. Crow, Ph.D. March 23, 2017