Your Relationship to Self

This is part 2 in a 7-part post.

I usually start the deeper dive observing that in the two groups they described their experiences of different relationships.  One of these relationships was about what they experienced of their own self.  As we delve into their relationship to their own self in the two different groups, they tell me that in the scarcity experience, none of their own self shows up.  For example, a friend described, “In the awful experience, I am just there, getting the energy sucked out of me.  In the great experience, not only am I more creative, I also experience parts of me showing up that are new and exciting.  I am better for having been in the experience.”  Throughout these conversations I have had over the past year, people constantly describe different aspects of the “vibrancy” of the group, which led me to use that term in describing the energy experienced in the group.

I have found it useful, in teasing out what is happening in these experiences, to draw what people are sharing.  The figure below captures the low and high extremes, as well as a middle point, of the experience of one’s relationship to one’s own self.



There are places where you experience your “I” as slumped over, with your head in an invisible darkness through which no light can enter.  Everything is dark – from here nothing or very little can be seen.  Here you experience great vulnerability, moving into the fetal position, literally or figuratively, to protect all of the core systems, such as your will, your heart, and your head.  This is the experience of the bottom-left individual in the figure.

There is another experience you often have of the “I.”  You experience your “I” as standing tall, acknowledging what you have to bring to the world, with the gifts, talents, and abilities you have developed over your life.  This is the middle individual in the figure.

There is yet another experience you have, in some places and groups, where the “I” stands tall, open to the world, and fully participating, sharing everything that you have to give and everything that might come.  You experience this position of complete openness and invitation as one of great strength and happiness, with your full will, heart, head, and soul engaged.  While this looks like the most vulnerable position, as everything is exposed, it is the one in which you experience the most strength.  This is the experience of the outstretched individual in the upper-right of the figure above.

You have three different experiences along the continuum of your relationship to your own self, from the collapsed experience of low vibrancy to the fully open experience of high vibrancy.  At each subsequent level of vibrancy, more of you is available.

Since you experience these three different levels of harmonic vibrancy in your relationship to your own self, they are all part of who you are.  They are all available to you.  The twist I want to make here is to realize that how much of your own self is available in any given space or group is an agreement.  You agree to this, whether or not you are aware of the agreement.  This also means that you can agree to something else, to another relationship to your own self in a group.

You also experience different perspectives of your own self.[1]  What you see when you look inwardly, of your own self, is your experience of your self-in-self – your own self, a unique being, within your self (inner-individual perspective).  In other words, you can see your self within you – odd to say, while being the essence of your own, continuous experience of life.  This is the realm of personal development and initiation.  You also have an outward perspective of your own relationship to self, through your body and observable behaviors (outer-individual perspective).  This is what others can see of how you show up in the world.  These individual perspectives are supported by group perspectives.  The culture of the “we” supports you in your “I.”  What do “we” support in your relationship to your self (inner-group perspective)?  Different cultures support very different responses to this question – you are free, you are equal, you are subordinate to the “we,” you are in balance with nature, you are the light.   You also experience the structure supporting and interweaving with the culture (outer-group perspective).  What is fascinating is that these four different perspectives describe the same experience of your relationship to your own self, from very different lenses.

When you look at your own self, do you see great potential or a lost cause?  The lost cause in you knows that you have already learned everything necessary to do your job.  It is now just a matter of doing it; getting on with life.  There is nothing interesting out there, just a lot of cold, hard responsibilities.  The American humorist of suburban home life, Erma Bombeck, expressed this as, “If life is a bowl of cherries, then what am I doing in the pits?”[2]  Actress Katharine Hepburn lived into this, suggesting, “Life is hard.  After all, it kills you.”

And, you also have the other experience, the experience of great potential.  Where you know that there is greatness within you.  Where you are curious about the exciting opportunities that life puts in your way.  The growth that you experience as you grow up, having a partner, experiencing friendship, learning about new perspectives, having children who grow up, becoming an expert and an elder in your community.  Those moments of brilliance where the best of what you can be shows up, and others smile.

My request to you

Please reply in these pages to share your own experiences, thoughts on what I share, or questions that arise.  I invite you as a citizen scientist to participate in the naming of the emerging field, which I refer to as ecosynomics, and in realizing the higher harmonic vibrancy available to all of us.

[1] There are multiple perspectives people bring to seeing, understanding, and working with this relationship one has to one’s own self.  To explore these perspectives, I will briefly introduce a lens developed by Ken Wilber.   Wilber observed that some people focus on the individual perspective of the relationship and other people on the group perspective.  He also observed that some people focus on the interior perspective of the same experience and other people on the outer perspective.  This framework provides for four different, general perspectives on the same experience: the inner individual, the inner group, the outer individual, and the outer group.  I will explore the differences in what these perspectives see, how they make sense of the world, and what they prescribe, as I apply them to the five primary relationships, starting with one’s relationship to one’s own self.

[2] See Erma Bombeck’s book titled with this expression of one’s experience of one’s own self.

15 thoughts on “Your Relationship to Self

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