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"I can do it on my own" - Learning a New Way Of Being

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

Blog #1 - Richard Cuevas - Levitate Coaching


In the early days of when my daughter began to discover language and string words together, she began to connect with her autonomy, assertively saying "I can do it my own self". "Someone that knows their mind" I said to myself. I felt proud of her stubbornness too, although fast forward to her early teen years and I've begun to reflect upon how that autonomous streak impacts her development and wellbeing in terms of learning to ask for and accept support from others.


Of course, at this age, adolescent teenage brains are producing far more dopamine than at any other time in the life cycle, nature's way of helping youngsters to take more risk, become independent so that they can learn to fly from the nest. However, I'm left wondering about the developmental stages in my daughter's overall unfolding as a human being, and those of us more generally, when it comes to learning to ask and accept support from others? I acknowledge my question perhaps presupposes that we should ask and accept support from others, something which is underpinned by the fact that we are not designed by nature to live solitary lives. What does someone need to let go of to bring themselves to ask for and accept support from another? I am not talking about asking a neighbour for a missing vegetable needed for a recipe (although I know some people wouldn't dream doing that, which raises its own developmental area of curiosity), I am referring to sharing a sensitive emotional topic with another human being.


I've often wondered how things might have been different if I had turned to personal development sooner and put aside the script that I could and should do life all on my own. This article draws upon my own personal development experience and the insights I have gained from working with others particularly through Shadow Work and various men's groups over many years. I've attempted to explore why some of us find it difficult to ask for support and why often we settle on leaving "the lid on" or choosing not to "rock the boat", walking the familiar trodden path instead.

Levitate Coaching, a provider of Integral Development Coaching.
Can we really develop on our own?

Where it all begins - self awareness

Before I began to work on myself, I would dismissively say "of course I know what I'm thinking" when people mentioned self awareness to me. What I didn't realise is that self awareness has an infinite depth and is so much more than knowing what you are thinking or behaving as I ignorantly thought. There are so many layers to it.


So what do we mean by self awareness? Essentially it is a person's capacity to be aware of their unique thoughts, memories, feelings, behaviour, bodily sensations and the world around them. It is subjective and unique to us. We don't all share the same level of awareness or experience it in the same way. When we truly are in a place of self awareness we are able to effortlessly and simultaneously notice what is happening in our mind, body and heart. This requires the practice of ongoing curiosity. There is an infinite depth to this and that is one of the wonders and mysteries of what it is to be human. This is an area I help clients with as part of an Integral Development Coaching Programme. We cannot change what we cannot make sense of.


Aristotle said "Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom". Socrates added that "the unexamined life was not worth living". These words and insights ring true even after over 2,400 years. Yes 2,400 years ago. To understand ourselves is an infinite endeavour. It is a worthy endeavour that requires curiosity and compassion. Some of us would rather not lift the lid to see what lurks beneath, which is quite understandable if the past has not been properly faced, understood and integrated. Going deep into ourselves to understand who we are and why we are does involve interpreting ourselves in the context of our culture, upbringing and the things we have inherited perhaps through no fault of our own. For a long time, I choose not to look inside and face up to the past. "Some things are best left alone" I would say to myself, "I'll deal with it on my own". Through my own development and working with others I've come to recognise that by keeping our issues at arm's length, out of sight and earshot, we limit our ability to be able to fully understand that thing in the corner of our eye that continues to catch our attention or in other cases blur our vision.


The more conscious a person is, the more awareness they will generally possess of their inner and outer world. As a result, such a person is not only able to be more present with themselves but by knowing themselves better, they can better understand others and their environment. They might not like the experience of their self awareness as it might result in feeling discomfort or even pain but therein lies the other side of personal development coin: the darker side. The more we learn about ourselves the more truth we uncover and some of it will be hard to swallow. Swallow we must though if we are to metabolise and integrate those darker unattractive parts to enable ourselves to transcend. For example, the manager who is focussed on the "result" without regard or an appreciation of "how" they get there, which tends to be at the expense of others, might benefit from digging inside themselves to understand what is at the core of their behaviour and way of being.


We must gently analyse ourselves, our thoughts, behaviour, principles, emotions, relationships, environment, mood, values, beliefs, environment, friendships and so on with openness and kindness. The passengers who avoid eye contact with the pregnant lady after she steps onto the bus might benefit from examining themselves too. Are they selfish, waiting for another passenger to stand up, tired from a long shift at work, do they believe that a pregnant woman should not expect a seat, are they hiding, do they not want to be responsible and so on and so on. Learning about ourselves is gold. Or there is the example of the parent who shouts at their child over the smallest of things. What was actually going on for the parent in that very moment, how were they feeling, was there something that hijacked the situation for them, what was running through their mind and were they aware of it in the moment, what was happening in their body and how was their breathing responding to the situation and so on and so on.


Life affords us many opportunities to STOP and observe ourselves and our surroundings and to grow our awareness of who we are and why we are. If we do this well we can begin to peel back and discover what lies in our unconscious self.


Our unconscious is said to drive our automated reactions to habitual ways of responding and quite often we have a visceral feelings that come with it. A Shadow Work Weekend Retreat is an an exploration of the main archetypes of Lover, Warrior, Magician and Sovereign. These archetypes provide a lens through which to look at ourselves and others. The Shadow Work process is a profound formidable experience and method of delving into our unconscious. When things feel "stuck" or something feels like its "missing" Shadow Work can be huge steps towards changing the existing narrative. Carl Jung was spot on when he said "until you make the unconscious conscious, it will rule your life and you will call it fate".


Poking around - for the sake of what?

What could possibly motivate someone to go digging and begin to contemplate that something else might be called for, other than a habitual way and unconscious way of responding? Across the years I have worked with men from diverse backgrounds and ages. When I've asked why they are looking to change some are clear about it, others say their partner told them it was a good idea and some are still figuring it out.


For the sake of what? The answer to this is what gives us the fuel to embark upon a journey of self discovery and transformation. If the fuel isn't of sufficient quality then the motivation to explore the truth and continue the journey of development will result in short lived shallow rewards. It sounds blunt, but there is no other way of saying it. I turned to personal development for the sake of my marriage and family. I also did it for myself as something new was being asked of me. It was a dear friend who had spoken to me about men's work and that is where it began for me. Turning towards change doesn't mean having to do it solo. In fact, development is more effective when working with experienced gentle hands. Developing as part of a group adds another transformative dimension to our development. This is something that I offer to clients, whether they are seeking out a promotion at work or managing a transition point (and everything else in between), as part of their overall Integral Development Journey.


Brutal acknowledgment - this is often the hardest step

The act of acknowledgement doesn't come easy, particularly for men. To acknowledge that something isn't working or is missing, for a good number of folk, is tantamount to failure. It can easily bring up thoughts and feelings associated with "not being good enough". Some people will be overwhelmed with feelings of shame and think they have let others down.


In such circumstances, why would anyone ever bring themselves to acknowledge the thing about themselves that comes with accepting they have failed and are not good enough and fills them with uncomfortable and painful emotions? Surely it must be easier to avoid acknowledging and therefore accepting.


For example, someone who is objectively seen and regarded by others as successful but on the inside doesn't see themselves in that way, because their inner world tells them otherwise, will generally find it difficult to give their self awareness the space to breathe to see what reveals itself. If they give any room, then they begin to unravel and the risk is how to build themselves back up. There will generally be strong emotions at play such as shame, guilt, anger and sadness. There might be cultural and family considerations in the mix also, together with professional work related dynamics.


The fact is that acknowledging uncomfortable truths can be painful if we have invested time and energy hiding, suppressing or denying their existence. To transcend them, we must acknowledge them in a way that is accepting of the situation we find ourselves in and metabolise them to allow the process of transformation and integration to unfold.


Vulnerability - Seeking and accepting support

What precedes seeking and accepting support from another person, is the magic ingredient of vulnerability that needs to be present. What do we mean by vulnerability? I like Brene Brown's description of "uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure". It is that moment when we say what is really on our mind as we risk exposing our true self and feelings. We might remember the time when we said "I love you" to someone for the first time and nervously stood to see if they would reject us. The practice of being vulnerable is the practice of being courageous in the face of fear and in the context of our own development, the more vulnerable we are the more we shall experience and connect with our courage and strength. Overtime, this courage is a way of getting to know our fears and how to make friends with them. We come to discover that we are stronger than we think.


If we find ourselves with clarity, motivation and a willingness to be vulnerable, then we might seek out another and be accepting of their support, which can be as simple as a supportive ear. Having strong relationships where we can confide in others and being able to support others, is so valuable to our development. It's surprising how hollow and superficial relationships are particularly when some of us have thousands of followers and friends spanning across various social media platforms. It saddens me how regularly I see clients in situations where they don't have someone to turn to. To choose who to speak with can also raise its own issues, as we might consider the topic to be sensitive and unravelling in nature. I've been witness and present to so many of these precious moments when someone opens themselves up to acknowledge what is true for them and the relief that they experience as a result of that initial lifting of the lid. My own development has revealed the power of vulnerability and it is something that I foster in my coaching with clients. I have generally found men to be more hardened than women in coming to personal development and opening up, although I see that this is a trend that is in decline.


I work with clients helping them learn to access their abundant resources, which have usually become hidden and pushed out of sight. It brings me enormous joy and pleasure to see clients standing with an assured stillness and clarity in their eyes. Clients leave having reclaimed themselves and their gifts. They go into their office, their marriage, their relationships, their families, their environment and their world closer to the person they want to be. Integral Development Coaching is like no other.


As we draw to a close

My hope as I begin to draw this blog to a close, is that my daughter finds others in her life to be able to open up to as she is impacted by life and to discover and learn that she doesn't need to do it "her own self", however, much of our society says that we need to. I hope she shares all of her life, both the pleasure and suffering that she will no doubt, like us all, experience. I hope that she stays connected with her vulnerability which is the key to knowing who we really are and to be able to form healthy lasting authentic relationships with others.


If you have got this far and appreciated the blog, have insights or other perspectives to add, then please like, share, leave your comments and show your support.


Levitate Coaching - Integral Development Coaching

If you are interested in any of the topics, themes or points in this blog or are drawn to exploring coaching, Shadow Work or personal development, don't hesitate to contact me.


Go well!


Rich

Founder - Levitate Coaching - A New Way Of Being

Integral Development Coach

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