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  • Writer's pictureemily.intrepidintentions

What might wholeness seem like to you?

You're not a whole person. You ARE perfectly, imperfectly, exactly how you're supposed to be right now, but the chances are that you're not 'whole'. That there are aspects of human nature that you've not yet experienced, that you instinctively somehow disapprove of in others because you consider those traits or behaviours to be 'wrong'.

What becomes clearer and clearer to me is that there has never been a 'one size fits all' path of advice for life, that all 'spiritual' advice is paradoxical and contradictory, and that it is self-awareness and therefore awareness of very personal specific small changes in everyday choices that I can make, that can bring about cosmically beautiful changes in my relationship to life and therefore how much I can enjoy and be in service to life.

There are, of course, infinite elements of self-awareness to uncover on life's gauntlet towards wholeness. A broad one I've been thinking about recently is what my reaction is when I am under stress - fight or flight, and there's a third one, freeze. Reading about Holacracy recently inspired me to illustrate a link between these primal reactions and the Karpman Drama Triangle, maybe something like this:

Inspired by Frederic Laloux's Reinventing Organizations, p145, quoting Holacracy founder Brian Robertson

Most of us as adults don't enjoy being in the 'drama' of persecutor, victim or rescuer for too long. It doesn't give us that sense of being 'whole'.

It makes me wonder what questions I might ask myself about someone's tendencies, to coach them with this model in mind.

1 Do they think sensitivity is unacceptable or forget that others can feel upset, and they might benefit from empathising more?

Someone who has tended to lash out or use their dominance in moments of stress may never have encouraged the person they perhaps see as 'weak' or wrong to come up with a suggestion or create something better. They may not have found out why something isn't working, nor ever challenged the other person to see it and say what responsibility they can take for doing things differently.

2 Do they expect others to decide or dictate, and might benefit from learning to find their own ideas?

If someone tends to think that others have caused all the problems in their life and they often think that somehow they have no influence to change the situation, they may not have tried to get creative with their responses, opening up to the possibility that the way they've done things until now is not the only possible way, there are other choices that could be made.

3 Do they seem to over-accommodate or 'rescue' people a lot and they might benefit from learning boundaries?

Rather than pretend on some level that violating behaviour is okay, or always do things for others that realistically they could do for themselves, someone who tends to be a rescuer might not yet have learned to say no, this isn't okay. A rescuer can learn to give honest feedback and ask how aware the other person is of the impact of their actions, or ask what they might do for themselves. These are elements of coaching.

My primary stress response is freeze - when I've been 'told off', I've often gone mute, not knowing where on earth to begin with responding to this person and not wanting to 'tell off' in response; not wanting to attack and not wanting to show that I'm upset. So in a way, in a split-second I am subconsciously 'rescuing' that person from the real consequences of their actions. I usually then revert to flight and get myself somewhere safe to have a good cry, and usually only once I've sobbed out enough of the sadness do I then start to get angry that an incident happened in the first place.

'Fight' response people hate this! They would often prefer that I attack them in response than that I give them a blank face or I disappear. I have in the past been advised to 'rise above' their behaviour, and since I don't enjoy fighting and that has the ego-seducing subtext of making me seem like a 'better' person, that's what I've often done. But undeniably I began to notice that it often makes them more angry, not less. Quite possibly, I now see, because that 'superiority' subtext is somehow shining a light on the vulnerability they're trying to hide and they squirm and fight to shift the fear. Or it just pisses them off!

My repeating lesson these last few years seems to be that I am needing to learn boundaries. Not just for my benefit, but for the benefit of those around me who might otherwise insecurely invade my space or rely on my energy. Boundaries are a scary, fascinating and rewarding thing to experiment with!

Scary because of the story I had subconsciously made up that people will dislike me if I say no - I thought that I wouldn't be accepted, I would risk my deep need to belong. Sometimes my boundaries can mean I realise I don't belong, there. I'm meant to go somewhere else where I do belong. Scary also because sometimes it means vulnerably showing that I'm upset - making it clear I'm not enjoying their behaviour, instead of taking my tears elsewhere. Fascinating because different people respond differently, so it's not a straight-line journey of self-development. Some people give no shit whatsoever when I show I'm upset! I'm slowly learning to gauge what to do depending on what I know of the circumstances.

Rewarding because sometimes boundaries work really damn well! The person simply accepts my boundary, no big deal except that it feels fairly unfamiliar to me, we find a different way forward, and I feel empowered. Or, deliciously, my boundary prompts an open-hearted discussion. We get to know a little more about each other's inner worlds, increasing the sense of connection, mutual understanding and, well, wholeness.

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