“The worst prison is a closed heart.” ~ Pope John II
DIRECTIONS FOR USING THE ABOVE TOOLS
Recommendation before starting:
It is beneficial to have a journal to write in, as you do these steps of assessment and reflection.
First Step: Look first, the 4×4 Life Human Journey Map through the row and lens of growth. Growth means becoming more than we were. We are expanding. The range of growth can be from mild to profound life changes, and everything in between. Growth brings satisfaction, delight, joy, fulfillment, empowerment, and expands both our self-confidence, skills, and self-esteem. On a scale of 1–10, how would you rate your growth at this point? (1= mild and 10= huge accomplishment). Make a note of this in your journal.
Next, look at your growing through the lenses of the four squares in this row: 1. physical 2.emotional 3. mental 4. spiritual. Which one of these squares is your strength right now that you can draw from? Which square right now is your weakest area, your most challenging? How can you get help in this area? What do you need to do, ask for, seek out that can bring assistance and strength? What about the other two areas? Can those areas help in your strongest or weakest areas?
Second Step: Look at Maslow’s pyramid. Identify which area the growth is in. What is/are your specific changes at this time? What are your current needs that are now being met? This could be in one area or several areas.
Third Step: Now, reflect on each of the four areas and think about them from the perspective of first your ego, and then your soul. What messages do you get for yourself when you look through these two lenses, ego or soul, in each of these four areas? What is helping you? What is hurting you? Any thoughts, insights? If so, jot them down in your journal.
We, as complex human beings, have the challenge of having both a human body and a divine soul within us. Those two parts are humorously referred to as the “devil on one shoulder” and “the angel on the other shoulder”. We need our ego to survive in a physical body with day to day life successfully. Yet, out of balance, the ego can take over and be the absolute “worst of human nature”. The soul part of us can be “the best of human nature”. Yet, again, if out of balance, a person couldn’t function with daily life. Our goal is to be aware of both and learn to balance and integrate the gifts of both parts. This is easy to say-write, but a huge challenge to learn to apply and live.
Fourth Step: Click on the Tool, the “Personessence Chart” by Jose Stevens posted here to go to the full page and explanation booklet of this chart. There is a LOT packed into this chart. Each of us has a leading quality in each row. Do you sense what yours might be in each row? (If this chart interests you, I would recommend reading Jose’s books that go into more detail.) This chart may help you identify examples of ego qualities (bottom of each block) and soul qualities (top of each block). Our lifetime challenge is to learn to move from the ego level to the soul level on each of these characteristics. The two places give entirely different perspectives. Jot down thoughts, aha’s, questions in your journal.
Fifth Step: Click on the Map of Consciousness Tool for the full size. Look up your primary feelings and see if you can identify which row you are currently dealing with. What impact are the vibrations of those feelings having for you? Do you want to change any of them? This may give you some ideas of goals you might decide to set, to be able to grow and change to behaviors, feelings, thoughts, ideas that could feel much better for you and help you on your path to healing, wholeness and empowerment.
Sixth Step: Click the link to the Medicine Wheel Page. Look these over and see if they help you put these parts together into a bigger picture as a whole. It helps to step back and see the bigger picture, the bigger perspective. Solutions can start to pop in from our intuitive guide within us.
Bonus Tool: Go to bonus tools and check out my note with the Serenity Prayer. Decide which column what you are working on belongs in: cannot change or can change. If you cannot, then pray for acceptance and serenity. If you can change, then pray for courage to make the changes you need to make.
Seventh Step: The GROWTH FORUM is here for you to be able to share your thoughts and feelings. Sharing of ourselves involves trust. To do that, these need to be safe spaces. It is essential that sharing comes from a place of respect, not judgment. If you want to share with another something that has worked for you, be sure to do it in the format of an “I statement”. Simply stating what you have done that helped you. No, “you shoulds”. You can share, but what the other person does is totally up to them. We need to be kind, considerate, compassionate with each other. Focus on listening and understanding and offering support and encouragement and affirmations of any progress in the right direction. Just showing up is a success! Growth is usually slow and takes persistent effort, sustained motivation, focus, and energy. However, there also can be those life-changing moments of “aha’s” where profound life changes can occur in the blink of an eye, moving our awareness and consciousness to a whole new level. These are those heartfelt moments that change us forever. These were what each mystical experience was for me. New “aha” insights can do this. Once these occur, we can’t stuff them “back into the box” as if they never happened. This can create some tensions in our relationships and new challenges to communicate and work through.
(Note: If you have been at this stage and have gained wisdom and learnings, you are invited to share and encourage others, giving hope and inspiration, acting as a guide and mentor for others, integrating this change into the patchwork quilt that makes up your life.)
Remember, too, that life goes in stages and cycles. We can be in and out of growth many times throughout our lives. Coping skills you have learned before can help you again. With time, you also build up resiliency. Indeed, growth can create depth, character qualities, and have priceless gifts of pearls and wisdom buried in them. The learnings accumulate and build on each other. Every one of my blessings of mystical experiences and incredible spiritual growth started first with a huge loss and broken heart. But I experienced fantastic growth and expansion of understanding and wisdom. Each lesson then made me a better and better Counselor and Life Coach. I gained true wisdom that comes from both knowledge and experience combined.
Remember to write in your journal. The journal can be beneficial to go back to later and see how much you have learned, grown, changed. Life never holds still; it is always moving forward. The more we can be IN THE FLOW, rather than resisting and fighting the flow, the easier life becomes.
When life becomes challenging for me, I always ask myself, “What SOUL quality is this “inviting” me to develop/strengthen?” That helps me look for the deeper meaning behind the surface appearance of something. Once I consciously became aware of how much joy I get from learning, I then started to very deliberately, actively seek growth experiences: whether through books, workshops or conferences. The more I learn, the more I have to be able to pass on to others, where they can benefit too. Like my mother, who is 101 yrs old and still growing and learning, I share this lifelong quality. This certainly helps keep the mind and spirit young!
Through hearing the stories of others, we allow ourselves to question the stories we tell ourselves.
By listening to how others experience the world, we give space to perspectives other than our own.
When we set down ego and assumptions and defensiveness, we create opportunity for empathy and new understanding.
To be able to accept that just because we don’t understand something doesn’t make it wrong. Or simply because something isn’t part of our experience doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
And that just because we believe something, that doesn’t make it right.
When conversations are real, they get messy. Uncomfortable. Some truths can be hard to hear. That doesn’t mean they should be silenced.
They cannot be rushed. Or distilled into soundbites and Instagram posts. They are ongoing and evolving, without a push to reach a false resolution in order to alleviate discomfort.
The best conversations are multilayered, comprised of tapestries of voices that are adding to and shaping the discussion. And perhaps even more importantly, the best conversations have an abundance of silence, recognizing that sometimes giving someone the space to speak says quite a lot.
Conversations can’t happen from a place of “us” vs. “them,” because then it becomes about proving one side right and by default, the other, wrong. Instead, conversations happen when different voices come together in the spirit of us vs. ignorance, us vs. harmful beliefs and practices, us vs. hatred.
Sometimes conversations can get emotional when they begin to threaten those foundational beliefs of self or safety. And as a society, we struggle with those feelings of vulnerability. And so often, we respond with anger or aggression or distraction. Because those things feel more comfortable than being laid bare.
Even as we’re wearing masks in public, many of our hypothetical masks have been stripped away. On Zoom, we’re seeing how people really live. Without access to as many services, we’re seeing how people really look.
Without the usual confidence it what is coming next, we’re seeing how people handle fear. Without the usual distractions to occupy us, we’re seeing what really is. We’re vulnerable. And that makes us uncomfortable.
Conversations aren’t enough. Words alone do not make outward change. But change starts from within. With listening. With confronting the stories that we’ve grown to believe. And with being brave enough to write new ones. By Lisa Arends
Carolyn Myss – 24 minutes
Gina Lake – 14 minutes