One of the reasons I became a Life & Career Coach was to work with people that I love more. I wanted to blur the lines between friendship and work and see what kind of beautiful mess I could create. I have coached my friends. I have become friends with people I have coached. I decided that, since we spend such a huge percentage of our waking hours surrounded by those we work with, I might as well see how many amazing people I could work with. So far I have been blessed. I work with Amazing people who are committed to growth, transformation, entrepreneurship, health, spirituality, having deep, open conversations and then taking actions to change their lives for the better.
Lauren and Maayan are co-founders of the Gossipist podcast network and co-hosts of the podcast PillowTok. They are good friends who have decided to work together. They invited me to be a guest on PillowTok to help them work through some of the ups and downs that working together has introduced into their relationship. These are two brilliant and very self aware women who are willing and able to face their difference head on for the sake of both their friendship and their business.
Check out the podcast here to listen in and hopefully learn a thing or two you can apply to your own relationships both at work and at home.
Think back to the last time that you can remember disagreeing with someone else’s actions. Perhaps they acted like a jerk or a fool. Perhaps they were mean to someone else or spewing anger at the room. Perhaps you can think back to a time that you saw someone being wasteful or seemingly unconscious in their actions?
Did you feel that? Did you feel the judgement? The self righteousness? Did you hear your mind say, “I would never….”? Did it feel healthy? Did it feel true? Might your thought be nearly as counterproductive as their action? Might there be a way to reframe the situation that is both more loving and more productive?
I was reading Charles Eisenstein’s latest book “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible” this morning when I came across this distinction between dispositionism and situationism. Perhaps you see where this is going? In a chapter titled “Judgement” Charles brings up the body of research that demonstrates that ‘good people’ in difficult circumstances act like ‘bad people’. Essentially, what an objective perspective seems to say, time and time again, is that we all do the best that we can given our resources at the time and the circumstances that we find ourselves in.
The example Charles offers is of the 1973 experiment by John Darley and C Daniel Batson where seminary students are sent off across their campus to deliver a lecture on The Good Samaritan story, a biblical tale about the one man who pauses to help a stranger moaning by the roadside (after a priest and a priests assistant do not). Along the way to their lecture they will have to actually step over a man in distress, collapsed in a doorway. These students are, quite literally, dedicating their lives to becoming ‘good samaritans’. They have also had their intention brought to this story. In their shoes, would you stop to help the moaning man? Would this tell me something about your character, your core disposition?
There is a twist. The students are broken up into three groups. Those in the first group are told that they are late for their lecture and better hurry. Those in the second group are told to hurry, their lecture starts in a few minutes. The third group is told that they have plenty of time, but should head over.
Can you guess who tends to notice the man in distress and stop to aid him? 10 percent of the first group and 60 percent of the third group stop. Clearly circumstances played a major role in their actions. It was not these students core disposition that determined their actions, it was the situation they found themselves in. Still telling yourself that you are different?
Any time that we judge someone we are saying that based on our observations we can tell some core truth about their disposition; who they are. In essence, we are saying that if we were in their exact position we would have acted differently. But what can we ever truly know about another’s exact position? Do we understand their entire upbringing? Do we understand the dreams or nightmares they had last night? Do we know if they are feeling nourished, loved and whole in their body mind and spirit? Do we know if they just received a crushing blow that has them crying on the inside, but lashing out on the outside?
Clearly we do not ever know the entirety of another’s truth.
So what happens if we instead work from the default assumption that someone’s ‘stupid’ actions are something that we might do as well given the exact same situation? What happens if we switch our default judgement from being dispositional, judging a person, to situational, looking at them as a product of circumstance? Might we approach others with more compassion? More patience? More understanding?
This does not mean that you must condone their actions. It does mean that you begin to make a distinction between their actions and them as a human being worthy of your love. It means loosening your belief that there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ people as well as the idea that you are ‘one of the good ones’. It means reconsidering your partisan beliefs that Republicans or Democrats are idiots at their core. It means relaxing your judgement that the violence in others is a product of some innate insensitivity that you could never be guilty of. It ends up meaning that a lot of the self-righteous congratulations that we give ourselves at the expense of others need to be reconsidered with a lot more humility and compassion for just how much others have had to struggle through things that we take for granted.
You may be asking what the point is. What is this effort worth? Why give up the my high horse? This is something I have struggled with. I was an angry, self-righteous young man with a chip on his shoulder and a desire to ‘set the world right’. How do you think I felt as this young man who knew better than those around him? I felt lonely and I felt judged. When we project judgement out into the world it finds resonance and it is the very thing that we then feel coming from others minds as we assume that they are judging us. But when I choose to search for understanding and offer acceptance as my default perspective I feel held, understood and appreciated in almost any situation. The simple truth is that judgement creates separation where there is always an option for compassion and understanding. If our intention is truly to right perceived wrongs and bring light to darkness it is worth questioning our assumption that people have a default disposition that is fundamentally different than our own. As Charles says, echoing saints and mystics, “you and I are one; we are the same being looking out at the world through different eyes.” “Moreover, situationism says that the “I” in every situation is bigger than the individual. The subject, the actor, the chooser, is the individual plus the totality of his or her relationships.
The self has no independent existence. Consider what that statement implies. Abstracted from its relationships to the world, the self is not itself.
So who is there to judge?
This post is from a series called Insights that are inspired by the work I do with my clients as a Life & Career Coach.
If you are ready to live with more joy, more passion and more purpose then I would love to be of service.
Contact me to find out how my Life Coaching Program can kickstart your journey.
On Monday, October 21st Integral New York will once again be hosting author and relationship expert Martin Ucik for a boundary pushing presentation and discussion based on his latest work. He will be presenting brand new content from his soon to be published book The Evolutionary Human” and his new project: “Sex and the Future of Humanity”. We will explore questions such as:
How does your developmental stage impact who you choose as a partner?
What skills are needed to co-create healthy, sustainable love relationships?
How does your sexual selection process and mate choices impact families, neighborhoods, communities, societies and the world at large? How about the environment or the economy?
What does all of this tell us about our authentic evolutionary purpose and how we can discover it?
What are the benefits of knowing this purpose?
And, of course, Martin is continuing to explore the concepts in Integral Relationships which integrates the wisdom from over 200 relationship books placing them into Ken Wilber’s acclaimed AQAL Model. This allows you to meet your partner at his/her level of consciousness and to co-create a sustainable, healing and growth oriented love relationship
A bit more about Martin:
Martin Ucik is a German born entrepreneur who trained with Eckhart Tolle as a Power Of Now group facilitator and founded www.singles2couples.org, an Association for Healthy Relationships. His studies of Ken Wilber’s Integral Model enabled him to integrate his personal experiences as a divorced father and the wisdom from over 200 relationship books into Integral Relationships: A Manual for Men which Ken Wilber has said is “An astonishingly complete manual for men based on virtually all the elements of the Integral model, in itself a remarkable feat. And the advice is truly sound. A great book!”
For more information please visit: http://www.meetup.com/kenwilber-58/events/127091522/
Hope to see you there
Devin Martin – Life and Career Coach
This past Monday I hosted another Integral Meetup. Our local hero Gilles Herrada presented a preview of his (then) upcoming presentation at the Integral Theory Conference. If you don’t know Gilles, aside from being a former leader of the Meetup with me, he is the recently published author of The Missing Myth: A New Vision on Same Sex Love, a book that asks questions such as: “If homosexual behavior is an aberration from the standpoint of reproduction, why is it widespread among humans, primates, and a myriad of other animal species, and why has it been favored by evolution?” Gilles is a brilliant thinker and researcher, so I was excited to get his take on gender and how it relates to Integral Philosophy and how all of this influences our minds creation of the experience that we call reality.
Gilles presentation went deep into the history of humanity, even looking at our closest primate relatives for clues about what traits, characteristics and behaviors we may have inherited vs. what is more likely to be a development that arose with culture. Gilles, as always, has done his research and he shared some interesting insights into the roots of our relationship with sex and gender. The really interesting points, that I wish we had a bit more time to discuss, came out at the end. Here Gilles brought into question humanities attachment to polarity as a concept and began to explore how this limits our ability to conceptualize gender, which is usually not so simple. Gilles showed us a brilliant slide challenging how we often think of polarity as a simple case of two opposites. He used the example of “light” and “dark”. Obviously opposites right? Darkness is the absence of light we tend to say. Well, what if you then take a look at what light is. It is a vast spectrum, only a small portion of which is visible to the human eye. What does the rest of it look like? Darkness. Might a similar spectrum of complexity underly many other concepts that we tend to discuss as a polarity? (such as gender)
This is an especially potent concept in the land of Integral Philosophy, where “types” is one of the 5 pillars of AQAL theory. When attempting to understand and then growing and transforming the self we quite often talk about how masculine and feminine interact. Rarely do I hear people talking about the vast spectrum that lies between. If they do, there isn’t a whole lot of elegant terminology to use. On a subtler level, one is compelled to consider how such widely accepted concepts impact our subconscious filters that limit what we sensory input we do and do not acknowledge as real. That comment hits at a rabbit hole I don’t have the space to get into here , but it is a topic that comes up often for me. Bit of a sneak peek into one area; a good friend an colleague is working on a book on just this topic. I’m not going to give away the working title or the concept just yet, but expect more from this space in the coming year. This is an area ripe for exploration.
In case you missed it. Here’s the writeup that went out for this Meetup. Stay tuned for an announcement about next months Meetup (Monday August 19th) where we will be gathering to discuss the reality of trying to maintain a regular meditation practice. Anyone who has tried knows that the benefits are HUGE….but so are the hurdles. Should be a great night. Here’s the writeup from Gilles presentation:
THE GENDER WAR: NO (INTEGRAL) END IN SIGHT (?)
What is gender? Does an integral worldview offer an increased understanding of gender and sexual roles?
Does it help us to answer questions such as
Is gender binary or a spectrum?
How tied to gender are our sexual roles?
Where do our ideas about gender come from?
Has integral theory added anything to our understanding of gender at all? If not, why not?
Join us July 15th at 7pm at One Spirit Learning Alliance as our very own Gilles Herrada gives us a preview of his upcoming Integral Theory Conference presentation on this topic. From Gilles:
Why has integral failed to offer a compelling solution to the gender issue? I believe the problem resides in the fact that the integral worldview remains tethered to the symbolic/mythic framework of the Axial Age and its so-called perennial philosophies. Despite their great wisdom, Axial/perennial philosophies are the primary cause of our confusion regarding gender and sexual roles. And it is only when axial philosophies and their genderized vision of the Kosmos are put into a historical perspective that a truly integral approach to gender and sexual roles becomes possible.
Head on over to Meetup.com to RSVP and for details on this and future events: meetup.com/kenwilber-58/
Are you above or below the center of gravity in your social circles?
Are you aware of times when others hold you up? How about times when they pull you down? How often do you get to have the experience of truly resonating in every way imaginable with a room full of people?
Let me preface this post by pointing out the obvious. We are all much more alike than different. We all share the same basic needs and many of the same wants. We would be served well by recognizing the many profound ways to find resonance with anyone and everyone. What follows is not intended to inspire judgement of those near you. The ideas below are intended to help ease a specific pain that I see often in my self, my friends and especially in my clients, all of whom are either creating or managing major life transitions.
When coaching people through major life transitions this is a topic that is bound to come up eventually. Whether we are looking to make big changes in our life or recognizing that they have already been happening, it is quite common to suddenly see our friendships in a new light. Relationships that once felt supporting might now feel limiting. It is normal to suddenly feel alienated, unsupported or just plain old alone. When seen in the proper light this can actually be a joyous realization. Without a big enough perspective it simply hurts.
We tend to make friends based on both circumstance and what I’ll call your attitude or worldview. Circumstances will determine who we end up in a room with. Attitude will determine who in that room we form a lasting connection with. Consider school.
When you were in school you were likely with a lot of people your age. Some of these people you called your “friends”. Others you knew, but did not feel as close to. The circumstances put you in a classroom with many of them. Your attitude, your interests, your worldview and a million little details of your personality all combined to create a resonance with some people and less resonance with others. Those we resonate the deepest with become friends.
When we are young these decisions often occur subconsciously. Occasionally kids might set out to make more “popular” or “athletic” friends, but for the most part we settle into relationships without much planning. Then we grow. Some friends grow with us. Other friends grow in different directions and at different speeds. Some friendships naturally fall away. Other friendships seem to stick through all kinds of changes. The big test for most of us is after we graduate from high school or college. When we graduate circumstances change drastically. We find ourselves in a new school, a new job, a new location and engaging new activities. We meet new people and forge new friendships based again on circumstance and attitude.
Early in life circumstances change often enough that changing attitudes go unnoticed. We naturally find ourselves with new people engaging similar pursuits and make new connections. The big upheaval that I see in myself, in my clients and in my friends comes later in life when we settle into a routine and then choose to seek growth and transformation. We begin to transform our attitude or worldview, but still spend time in the same old circumstances with our existing friends. This is when the many joys of bettering oneself will likely include some pain. It hurts to grow without our friends. They may even start judging you for it.
Years ago I came upon the term “center of gravity” in relation to a circle of friends or any other social circle. The concept is blindingly obvious when we look at children, but few realize just how important it is for adults as well. We tend to encourage children of a similar age to play together because, developmentally, they have a lot in common. With small children this is clear physically. Crawlers have a hard time keeping up with the walkers and runners. Those who can catch and throw have to throttle their abilities to hang out with an infant. This is not a judgement of better or worse. Worthiness has nothing to do with it. It is an observation of simple facts. As the years pass this becomes less and less about physical abilities and more about intellectual, emotional and potentially artistic, spiritual and many other skills or “lines of development”. Virtuoso musicians like to jam with others who have serious chops. The same is true when scientists want to talk shop. When we grow in one line we resonate with others who are a similar level of development. Again, this is easy to see in physical pursuits such as money or sports and to some extent intellectually. Where this is often overlooked is when it comes to the basic levels of consciousness, emotions and spirituality.
We all have a circle of friends that we have collected along the way. Each friend comes from a shared circumstance and a shared attitude. This circle of friends could be said to have a “center of gravity”. This is a metaphoric way of saying that each group of people has a level of consciousness or a shared worldview. This includes moral and ethical principles. We use the term gravity to describe how when one member of the group deviates from the norm the group will tend to pull them back towards the center. If Bobby is drinking or doing drugs far more than others in his circle he will feel pulled to clean up. He will feel that his actions are not normal. This is incredibly helpful when someone is struggling, when we are sad, get caught in a destructive relationship, are abusing a substance or having financial difficulties. When one person is sinking below the groups center the group will offer an energetic pull to bring them back to baseline. Sometimes this is spoken explicitly, but much of the pull happens unconsciously. We all tend to conform to unspoken, but shared values. This equalizing potential is one of the great gifts of friendships. We all have different strengths at different times and as long as we largely agree on what is important these differences get smoothed out.
But what happens when you do the really deep work of shifting your consciousness? I am going to ignore the voices that think that people don’t change. Perhaps another time I will explore the fear behind this belief. For now let’s assume that people really do develop over time. We know it happens from childhood until adulthood. It does appear to be true that most adults slow down developmentally when their physical growth stops and they start a career and a family. But what happens if your consciousness keeps developing well into your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s 50’s and beyond? Chances are not everyone in your group is developing in the same ways at the same time. Here is where the center of gravity of your social circle can have a painful and limiting effect.
If you can see how a group of friends can help pull you up when you are down then it should be clear how they can do the opposite. Your wonderful, well intentioned, perfectly amazing friends can actually pull you down when you are attempting to fly. Social circles have normative potential. Groups of people keep one another in line. We hold an unspoken shared vision of who we are and what we are likely to achieve. If our group does not approve of using drugs then we will make it hard for others within the group to use drugs. At times this is helpful. At others it is not. Wrapped up in every normative potential is a value judgement about what “we” are. If one of us deviates from this, forget the direction, the tendency is to “correct” them by reminding them what “we are”. The same holds true if you hang out with addicts and then try to quit. You will likely be pulled back into using with them based on everything from where they spend their time to what they do while there to how they define fun.
It is often true that attempting to grow is actually threatening to others. If you are doing this, why aren’t they? Unconsciously, we often sabotage our friends by holding an idea of who they are in our minds. What we know of one another is based solely on the past. We use experience to build an internal model of the people around us that is largely consistent with their actions. But what happens if they change? Does our model change? Probably not. We tend to attempt to fit them into the model that we have built for them. Often times we laugh when they claim they are not the way we have known them to be.
At this point, in order to grow, we must not only overcome our own limiting beliefs, but those of our friends as well. On top of this, there is the simple fact that as we change our interests and values change. We may no longer be going to the bar as much or complain about work the same way. My clients change their diets, they get up earlier in the morning, they change their careers, they travel more, they read different books, they meditate and change their media consumption habits. When we start creating major transitions in our lives we often find that we are not resonating with our friends in the same way. This can hurt far more than we had imagined. We still love these people. We still want the best for them. At the same time we recognize that their lifestyle and attitude are no longer aligned with ours. Some people avoid their friends. Some try desperately to change them. Others fall back into old patterns. Each of these choices comes with some degree of pain.
Here is my number one piece of advice:
Seek new friends. Engage new activities, clubs, events and gatherings that challenge you, stretch you, and push you towards the actions and ideas that you are working to develop. But, do not cut anyone out unless they are truly hurting you! You may crowd some old friends out of your schedule with adventures that they can not relate to, but keep the door open. Who knows what the future will bring. Often times friendships are a game of leapfrog in one line of development or a process of differentiation where our weaknesses are balanced by others strengths and vice versa. Sometimes you need to be the one to change and offer others a vision they couldn’t otherwise see. What is crucial is reaching out to create new connections with those you admire, those you aspire to resonate with, and those you can connect with in the areas you are growing. And recognize that you are doing the very hard and absolutely crucial work of raising the center of gravity of society at large.
This post is from a series called Insights that are inspired by the work I do with my clients as a Life Coach.
If you are ready to live with more joy, more passion and more purpose then I would love to be of service. Contact me to find out how my Life Coaching Program can kickstart your journey.
We have both walked back and forth inside our minds. Rarely do we notice the traverse. Even less do we acknowledge the self. It is at the apex of these pendulum swings that the ego grasps and tries to hold. The utter impossibility of anchoring oneself in the sky is ignored in the hope, the seeming need, to associate with an extreme as our true self. It is this one sidedness of feeling to which the mind most easily can relate. To grasp the arc as a never ending process, the natural movement of maya, is a step in the right direction. To step back farther still and recognize the unchanging, unborn witness to this game may be closer still. Truth be told it is only when we dissolve into it all, observer and observed, that we can relax in absolute Oneness. None the less, for now it is the back and forth, the grasping and releasing that I want to discuss.
I have been watching an oscillation between us, from arrogance to unworthiness. I recognize it in myself and I feel you polarizing me in near perfection. It is a joy to behold from afar, but from within it pummels my heart. In moments I feel better than you and you feel me this way too. In others I am certain that you must leave me for someone greater and you wonder about this as well. I do not propose that we effort to stop this cycle. I only want to bring more consciousness to how getting lost within it has the potential to distract our relaxation as God together.
Yesterday I reached a point of frustration in my art. What a ridiculous phrase to relate. I found myself turning bowls on the lathe and once again things were not as I wished. A problem with the machine had me frustrated and problem solving. I hate frustration. I love problem solving. What a joyous place to be. Driving off in my car to search for what I hoped might be the much needed replacement part for the lathe a smile drew itself across my mind. A column of unbending light shown vertically through my core connecting to the earth below and the heavens above. From this place of stillness I watched the game of challenge and achievement playing out all around me. Everything became energy moving for my entertainment. My body laughed. In that moment I associated with none of it and all of it. I recognized myself as the unwavering still point bearing witness to it all while simultaneously laughing that I am both the victory and defeat happening around me as well. It all became a game, something to do with all this energy, where being ‘solved’ or not merely determines whether or not this game will have another inning or a new game will begin.
We often leave that place of stillness and only relate with the movement. Will the future bring us closer? Have our pasts been similar enough? Will this decision create a gap between us? This achievement make one of us more worthy? Will this realization allow one of us to see beyond the other?
Of course there are also the glorious moments when we our oscillations align. It is funny how it doesn’t seem to matter where in the cycle they do align. I can resonate with you in sadness or in exaltation. Fearless vulnerability is the key. Quite often it is right in the middle of the storm, where there is no movement at all, just stillness and peace, that I feel the most connected with you. It is in this place that I see us growing together, where one and one become One. It is because of this simple truth that I write. For the Truth is that this place exists in all of the other moments as well. In our highest highs and our lowest lows, whether feeling aligned or in polarity, this space of stillness persists. This place of stillness, silently witnessing while screaming along, both separate from and merged with all that arises, is the place I vow to remain anchored both for and through you. I will be your anchor to this repose as you so often are for me.
But in order to set anchors in this place we must resist the urge to identify with the the myriad perspectives that create a separation or polarity that minimizes the other. I do not mean to suggest that the oscillations will stop. Likely they will increase, flying ever farther from the center. What I suggest is that we become better at recognizing them for what they are, temporary, reversible; better at noticing the movements when they are small, and better at giving away our grandiose estimations of self as investments in the other. Let us be better at sparing one another unnecessary degrees of pain from being on the bottom side of a fleeting polarity for longer than is helpful. The wakeup call must come freely from both sides of the equation, from feeling power and from feeling lack. The call to meet in a divine unquantifiable embrace is courageous from either side of the equation.
My truth lies comfortably in the unknown. It is when feeling the boundless potential of true uncertainty that I most appreciate having your hand to hold, your heart to call home. It is then that the warmth flowing between our bodies makes me feel the most alive, the most certain that I have more to give this world. It is with you that I want to serve all others. Recognizing this play between us is but one way that our relationship will teach us how to better serve others. Our connection can act as a template from which to relate with all.
I say let the arrogance come. Let the fear and doubt flow. A healthy relationship may well minimize them both in time, but it certainly must be a container which is ready to hold them first. Through it all I vow to remain anchored in the unchanging creator of it all whom we both truly are. As Her we will plant the seeds of our relationship. On this fertile land I will lay with you watching the beautiful mess that grows out all around us, as us.
– I offer this to you. I truly do. But it was drawn forth by my love for Hana. I wrote her this letter while I was living on a mountain for a year. My desire to let my highest love be the template for all relationships called me to share this with you. I post this today in celebration of becoming a Certified Integral Relationships Professional. If you sense that there is room for more love in your relationships I would love to work with you. Contact me any time for a free consultation.