There is an ancient Cherokee legend teaching about two wolves within each person that fight to rule our life. One is full of fear, rage, greed, superiority and evil doings. The other is goodness, compassion, love, grace, wisdom and positive doings. The essence of the legend teaches the wolf that wins the fight is the one you feed.
I’m sure you have noticed humanity is living more divided than ever. Media allows people to play out emotional hit and runs. It is easy to throw a jab online and then run and hide behind a screen without any real and meaningful conversations to get to the bottom of real issues.
The forefathers said it best, “United we stand; Divided we fall.”
First, I just want to say that I get the stress of this. It is not easy to live in a world where technological advancements are growing at a faster rate than our collective emotional intelligence is.
If you look at the emotional development of society as a whole, we are seeing a trend of black and white thinking and low maturity levels. I’m sure you have noticed: Arguing versus integrating, lashing out versus helping things go right, shock humor winning the ratings, people aching for connection and community and fearing it at the same time, being quick to judge versus understand or some people just feel like a victim to it all so they do nothing.
It is no wonder we feel overwhelmed and then COVID just became the straw that broke the camel’s back for many.
It is completely normal to feel anxious and upset when things are out of balance in many areas. Deep down we know there is a better way. Deep down we want to contribute to things going right. Deep down, we are ready for positive change.
As we reviewed last week, it is hard to access that part of ourselves, the part that is wise, calm and knowing when we are under stress. To help maintain access we must rise above the BS going on. When we rise above we see clearly and solutions become evident.
The quickest way to get pulled down is seeing life through the eyes of judgement, both ours and others. Judgments cloud reality and keep us tethered to illusions. Judgments are based on assumptions, many of which are tricks of the ego and are not solution based.
This week I invite you to go on a judgment fast.
It is time for solutions…
Not more illusions.
A Course in Miracles teaches how destructive judgments their illusions are. Illusions are easily overlooked because they appear and feel very real. The good news is that they disappear once their roots are exposed.
Judgment fast guidelines:
Get rid of assumptions
to feel refreshed.
Get rid of the judgments
to see life unmeshed.
Step out of illusions,
they lead to more stress and delusions.
Look at life through the eyes of love
and you shall rise above.
“Arg! Things are crazy. I used to feel like life really was wonderful and now I feel anxious and challenged almost daily.” This was me speaking to Tabitha, my dear friend and an amazing coach. Not only had covid hit, but my husband was deployed and we were in a custody battle to protect his son.
It was so interesting to me. Being coached integratively, potentiated every area of my life, not just one or two. I reached a point in my life where I finally, after decades, was living at the cause of my life. It felt like a kick in the pants to all of a sudden feel like I was down to living at the effect of so many things.
I had learned that one of the greatest things I cherish about being in the coaching profession is that you are surrounded by the most positive, big-hearted, uplifting, non-judgmental people. I had also learned that doing the work to self-actualize doesn’t mean all life is magically “challenge free”. It does mean that you have the capacity and the self-companionship to rise above it.
So, there I was, admitting to Tabitha I was feeling out of whack. One of the dynamics of stress is that we forget our resources. Under stress, the brain closes down its creative functions to handle the stress. Tabitha was about to remind me of this phenomenon.
She said, “I know what you are going through feels overwhelming, but let’s double-check that. Let’s look at the Levels of Development.” Bare with me, we are about to take a detour.
In Integrative Coaching, we use a tool called the Levels of Development to help discern 1) the nine milestones in self-mastery, 2) track progress as a new milestone is reached, and 3) see if we are hanging out in the healthy, unhealthy or average ranges.
Self-development is like riding a bike. Once you know how to ride it, you can’t go back to not knowing. However, we can be self-forgetting at times, like I was. Under stress, it is good to have compassion that we are located underneath the stress. So let’s look at rising above it.
Let’s say you start your journey towards increasing your levels of mastery. These range from unhealthy to healthy. Un-resourced on the inside to fully resourced on the inside. Disintegrated to fully integrated.
You take the Levels assessment and you are starting off at level 4.
It would look like this:
Your level of development is where you hang out on an average day. Since covid, or challenging life circumstances, are not your normal average days we can slip down a level. Under stress, we tend to slip down one or two notches. For example, if your current level is four, you may have moments where you slip down to level five or six under stress.
It makes sense that people are more reactive and divisive right now. We are collectively under stress.
The good news is that as you move up the levels and increase your capacity in life, when life gets stressful you only slip down one or two levels instead of falling all the way to the bottom of the unhealthy ranges. So, let’s pick the story back up.
Tabitha and I read the levels of development. Over a span of 10 years, I had developed from level 4 to level 9 and hung out at 9 during normal life circumstances (yes, skeptics are slow learners). What Tabitha and I discovered that under the stress of covid, a deployment and an urgent family matter, I slipped down to level 7.
Once we expand our inner-resources, they act like flotation devices and float us. What I learned is that I felt stressed, but my actual buoyancy was still pretty high.
I thought about this and realized that if I was going through this amount of stress at any other time in my life I would have just been a puddle of stress on the floor.
Instead of worrying about what level you are at. Focus on staying buoyant at the level you are at. Step one of being emotionally buoyant during a turbulent time is to Level Up. To level up, I invite you to follow this path:
Keep in mind, the pandemic does carry some opportunities. We can either stay stuck in the stress or rise above it. We can complain, or we can take the time to reflect and review our values and gifts. We can wake up upset, or we can choose to examine what really matters to us at the end of each day and align with that each morning.
This is an opportunity to level up.
Last week my husband and I took the kids for ice-cream. The cashier informed us that the woman before us had paid our bill and was paying it forward. We said, “Wow, thanks can we pay the bill of the folks behind us?” She said “Yes and congrats! You are the 15th awesome people to pay it forward tonight!” Apparently the last 15 people chose to pay it forward after receiving too.
There is a part in each of us that lights up when our life is lived in contribution, doing right by others and helping. This is the part a masterful coach invites forward. This is the part that leaves us with a smile on our heart at the end of a hard day, where we chose to do the right thing even though it was hard. This is the part where love is generated.
“When you feel a peaceful joy,
that’s when you are near the truth.”
Love is like a generator. The more we give it, the more we have it. The Course in Miracles teaches that love is the principle not subject to the laws of the ego. According to the ego what is shared is divided into two parts. Love doubles when shared. Love is an extension of care, support, extension, grace, compassion, inspiration, and so much more. If God had a currency, it would be Love.
Those of us that come to know this truth about ourselves get rest not from sleeping, but awakening. Awakening to what we are truly capable of. Awakening to our truth. Awakening into possibility.
The human heart is an ancient metaphor that has been passed down century after century through many cultures. It represents the Highest aspects of ourselves where love is our guide, our true north.
Consider some of our more common sayings:
Unlike the ego, the Higher-Self quietly waits to gift us. It bares gifts of wisdom, guidance and compassion. The ego is quick to drown out any inner peace, doubt any wisdom and divide us from what is possible.
The ego is quick to judge and second guess
while the heart will guide you out of any mess.
The ego is quick to jump into the pool of fear,
while the heart invites you to steer clear.
Our wisdom, inner knowing and intuition all reside in the part of ourselves we call the heart.
“Love is the bridge between you and everything.”
Many people can experience anxiety or ruminating fear because they are still using their heads to try to solve problems. Switch into your heart for an inspiring new start.
Masterful coaches do not keep you in your head. They help you make the journey into trusting your Highest-self. The self that knows, that grows and stows your potential. This is the heart of who you are.
There is a part of your journey into your highest potential that can only be successfully navigated through the guidance of your highest wisdom, your heart.
There is part of you that knows.
This is the part of you that grows.
I invite you to trust it with all of your heart.
I promise it will give you a miraculous new start.
Fear gave birth to the ego and is a state of illusion.
By Laurel Elders, PCC
IICT Founder / Senior Faculty