Based on the fact that culture is best defined and identified by the internal and external discourse of groups and individuals, cultural self-awareness and understanding are best served by listening to the inner voices as well as the voices around us. Why? Because we use these to create our self-image, its expression and its fulfillment in our thinking, judgments, choices, decisions and behaviors. They are the source of what we do and make and become. Only our conscious perception of the "voices" (this includes expression of feelings, images, etc.) that we are listening to within ourselves gives us the power to negotiate with them, to decide which are most relevant and beneficial for ourselves and those around us.
The template illustrated above offers some leads for mapping your cultural identity as it lives in you and around you. It is something to think about, perhaps a piece at a time, or even as an ongoing project in your personal journal, or in your other practices of reflection or meditation. It may show up as well as in your discussions with those important to you– obviously, at your discretion.
For those of you whose intercultural profession expresses itself in training, workshops, coaching and retreats, this template can serve as an approach to activities with which to explore cultural identity with your clients or students. Always keep in mind the importance of creating a safe environment in which individuals are not compelled to reveal more about themselves then their boundaries allow, although inevitably such exercises help us to stretch our boundaries and connect with each other in fresh and often deeper ways.
The elements in this MindMap can certainly be changed, added to, etc., according to your learning/teaching/training objectives or your needs for personal exploration. Those who may already be using the Cultural Detective®: Self Discovery instrument created by my colleagues and myself may find this exercise helpful as an addition to the explorations found there or as a means of continuing the learnings which it creates.
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