A Coaching Power Tool Created by Maria Margarit
(Spiritual Coach, ROMANIA)
Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.– Carl Jung
How many of us find ourselves trapped in the intense emotions of fear, helplessness, feeling vulnerable, disappointed or exposed, many times with apparently no reason at all? How many of us are trapped in situations, relationships and feelings that don’t seem to characterize us? How many of us blame our partner, our boss, our best friend, our mother, the context for our own feelings?
I found this quote one time, which said, “You can’t be a victim and success in the same time”. So which side do you pick? Because the day we are willing to explore the inside to find out what really got us trapped in the day “success” will open up from the inside, setting us free from that crushing emotion.
According to the dictionary, the word „exploration” means „the action of exploring an unfamiliar area”. That said, self-exploration means to accept the fact that SELF is not as familiar as we thought it was. Instead, the SELF is a nearly untouched land of beliefs and emotions we need to discover. As crazy as this might sound, our own SELF is probably the most surprising part of our lives.
Imagine you were a planet, what would exploration be like for you? What discoveries do you expect? We will further look closely into some of these types of “discoveries”: wounds, fears, underlying beliefs, our shadow, to see how these findings can change our lives forever.
One approach to self-exploration is the discovery of the wounds we get from our early childhood from our parents and their affiliated masks. In her book “Heal your wounds and find your true self”, Lise Bourbeau discusses these five wounds, explaining how each of them imposes a certain mask we wear, mask that translates into emotions, behaviours, even diseases and physical appearance. These wounds, who also have a lot of positive sides, can constitute the source of our hurt or of a certain problem we confront within our lives:
- Rejection-> The fugitive
- Abandonment -> The dependent
- Humiliation -> The masochist
- Betrayal -> The Dominator
- Injustice -> The rigid
According to Lise Bourbeau, although we wear these masks to protect ourselves, we paradoxically put ourselves in situations we need to feel rejected, abandoned, humiliated, betrayed. Healing our wounds and getting out of these masks is possible if we acknowledge the wounds and masks we wear.
Fear starts once your wound is being touched. When it appears, it hurts. But what is fear? A question we keep asking ourselves, with so many options to answer.
What we know for certain is that fear is a creation of our mental body and part of our ego. According to Jungian psychology, the ego is the centre of consciousness, whereas the SELF is the centre of the total personality, which includes consciousness, the unconscious, and the ego. To move away from fear, we must discover the part of the ego that, by trying to protect us from potential danger, stays in the way of our tranquillity.
Example: A woman who in her childhood would do anything to get the attention of her rejecting mother, will do the same in her adulthood in the attempt to protect herself for this subconscious behaviour. However, this type of attitude no longer serves her as the situation is no longer the same. She just took a habit which sticks with her, even if the danger is no longer real.
An underlying belief is a behaviour that is programmed into us based on a belief formed some time ago or borrowed from our family and ancestors. This belief is picked up somewhere in our lives as a result of a totally different set of circumstances or perceptions to the ones we may find ourselves in now.
There are times when, no matter how hard we try, we are unable to experience that which we say we want in our lives. We set a goal, keep trying to make it happen but it just doesn’t occur. This experience can be frustrating and detrimental to our confidence and self-esteem. But rather than judging ourselves, allowing this experience to define who we are, and developing or enforcing a belief as a result of this, the key is to use this opportunity as a place of exploration. By approaching the experience with curiosity and inquiry, you can unlock the underlying belief that stops you from achieving your goal.
Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.-Carl Jung
Another approach to self-exploration is to go in search of our shadow. For Jung, this shadow is the unknown side, things we are not conscious about, many of each were pressed during our early childhood.
For example, in our childhood our parents constantly tell us not to be selfish, to always share. We close this room of selfishness, repressing our feelings. In the same way, we close doors to other feelings and emotions, wrong or right, and start to live in a little space of our brain, never knowing how to be truly whole.
In her book, “The dark side of the light chasers”, Debbie Ford says: “You must go to the dark in order to bring forth your light. When we suppress any feeling or impulse, we are also suppressing its polar opposite. If we deny our ugliness, we lessen our beauty. If we deny your fear, we minimize our courage. If we deny our greed, we also reduce our generosity. Our full magnitude is more than most of us can ever imagine”.
If you are ready to go on this journey of exploring yourself, here are some resources that might help:
- Take a piece of paper and note that your personal belief about yourself, naming 5 qualities and 5 faults that you have. Be as honest as possible. Then go ahead and asked your close folks to do the same for you. Don’t be scared to ask for honesty and openness and let them know you really need them to be honest in order for the exercise to work.
- Practice active listening. For one full week, remind yourself to be PRESENT in each conversation you have – at work, at home, at the grocery shop etc. How?
- Don’t focus on what to say next, don’t even think of what to say next. Just listen.
- Look that person acts in the eyes. Observe their face, the body, their voice without any judgement at all.
- Be curious about that person.
- Don’t try to understand it. Just observe it.
- Think of 5 people you cherish and write down what you see in them, good parts and bad parts. For the bad parts, only write down those that really trigger you. Then think of yourself? What in yourself do you love or hate, that makes you observe that good parts and bad part in others?
The whole purpose of this journey of self-exploration is the well-known “Know Thyself”, a maxim that is now spread out throughout history, disciplines, religions, continents.
But, as seen around us, a lot of people who choose the path of self-exploration often fall in its traps. A lot of us immerse into over analyses and overthinking, ruminating about each idea we resonate to, sinking deeper and deeper into our own thoughts, in search for answers. But what is it that we expect to find? Shall this journey ever end? What are some of the risks of too much self-exploration?
Self-awareness vs. Self-focus
We are not going to analyse what self-awareness means, nor plead in its favour, we are only going to challenge the fine line between self-awareness and self-focus, to emphasize the risks that self-exploration can lead to.
Psychologist Daniel Goleman proposed a popular definition of self-awareness in his best-selling book “Emotional Intelligence,” as “knowing one’s internal states, preference, resources, and intuitions. According to the Psychology Dictionary, self-focus means 1. An ability a person has to direct conscious attention on themselves, thoughts, desires and emotions. 2. A person’s ability to analyse and evaluate their mental and emotive states. 3. excessive concern for yourself.So notice the difference? Let’s say that self-awareness consists of being mindful of our identities and lived experiences (and how they relate to those of other people), while self-focus consists of simply thinking about ourselves.
The mirage of tripping
From Ancient Greek to Hindu to Peru, from the ancient world to the modern times, psycho-active substances were used to generate alternate states of consciousness that led to deep self-exploration, by chemically removing inhibitions in our brains.<<The use of psychedelics is self-regulating in most cases. Their true purpose is to enhance growth and interior development. Used only for pleasure, or abused, the Inner Self is thwarted, which leads to unpleasant experiences and depression.>>
Tripping only brings value if it’s made with intent and treated like a therapeutic session. Plan to dig deep, committing yourself to confront all conflicts and negative feelings as they arise, then take these discoveries to improve your living instead of continuously searching to escape reality and achieve a certain state of mind through the usage of drugs.
Fixing on a belief
The journey of self-exploration uncovers many hidden things about ourselves. Once discovered, an idea about ourselves might resonate so much that we try by all means to prove it right and remain stuck in our own minds. But fixing on a belief, we are making it worse.
Let’s take for example people with social phobia: very much absorbed in their own social image, they avoid situations and not reality test their perception. With health anxiety, an over-focus on sensations in the body trigger irrational thoughts and beliefs. As patients become fixated on their bodily sensations, thoughts, and beliefs, their symptoms exacerbate.
Self-exploration can also trap you in too much rumination about what you think, say or do in your everyday life. Instead of being present and purely living, we start mirroring everything around us in search of answers.
This happens because some people who explore themselves also have a tendency to build an ideal self, in search of being the BEST VERSION of themselves or to feel in a certain way. They become disappointed when they realize that, after all the struggle, therapy and exercise, they are still stuck, still not close to that image/feeling.
While it is vital for living a life of abundance, love, balance to explore ourselves, ruminating on our own beliefs and behaviours can stop us from moving forward, from living, from being present. Self-exploration leads to precious discoveries and understanding the source of our troubles and negative emotions. But discovery with no action attached cannot trigger change. So as you embark yourself in a self-exploration journey, remember to always take those findings and put them into action.