At the very heart of each of us is a deep intention to evolve.
Does evolving mean I have to get better and better?
Evolving definitely does not mean becoming better and better versions of ourselves. Rather, we are opening up to a more and more inclusive understanding of who we are, what we can be, where our happiness lies, and what is our place in the bigger picture, be it the social, human, natural, or spiritual world.
In a sense, we are just stripping away the barriers to understanding how wonderful we already are, and to expressing this wonder in every aspect of our lives.
We do this not only for ourselves, but also in order to have a more positive impact on the world around. We are living in critical times. Each of us needs to develop every ounce of our resources to find peace in the centre of the storm, create a fulfilling life and contribute whatever and wherever we can.
What holds us back?
Along with this natural inclination we have to evolve, there is also a huge force that holds us back and keeps us clinging to the old. We have our habitual ways of being and doing that we need to let go of in order to move on. We also have the habitual patterns of the family, class and culture we come from or that we aspire to. These add up to a sense of who we are, or an identity, that we believe we need to hold onto for dear life.
It is hard to kick the status quo, and it becomes even harder to keep moving when we sense, or are told, that others will feel left behind or disapproving, or even that we will become the kind of people we have disapproved of in the past.
Passionate about turning points
This is why I am so passionate about facilitating turning points and new beginnings. Each time you meet a catalyst, crisis, or opportunity, you have a choice.
Either you accept the reality that is confronting you, whether it seems positive or negative, and expand your possibilities in line with that deep desire to evolve, or you shut down and hold on to your old habitual patterns whether or not they are working for you. It is a choice between love and fear, between going forward and going backwards, opening up and closing down
Images we live by
One of my major focuses in working with this conflict between love and fear is on helping you to uncover the unconscious mindsets or images that may be directing your life right now, to discover new attitudes and plans that are right for you now, and to bring together all the parts of you so they work as a team to move you where you need to go.
When you befriend your imagination, everything your rational mind has closed down becomes available to you again. As you uncover and transform your unconscious outdated beliefs in the light of your present understandings and desires, you suddenly find how much easier it is to move on.
And as you discover or create new intentions, you find that in the ancient spiritual maxim, “energy follows thought.” What you imagine you can become. As you learn to work consciously and positively with your intentions, you can also find yourself more and more of a creative force for the good.
This is what I call ImageWork.
Your images and mindsets are also held by the family or society or group you come from or are part of. Often these help you play the role that you are expected to play, but do not give space for that authentic you that is striving to emerge.
For this reason I think it is important to create what I call “soul communities” where we can belong without sacrificing our individuality, and where we are recognised for who we really are and for who we are becoming. Skyros Holistic Holidays, with I co-founded in 1979, are based on this principle. They are in fact temporary soul communities where you can have a transformative experienc to bring back to your everyday life
Once we are part of a community with a more open mind set, we are able to evolve in the ways that are right for us, and still feel held by the world of which we are part. This is a great help, particularly to those of us that have always believed that the only way we can be free is to be alone.
Will you open or close?
When your heart and soul, or life itself, are whispering that it is time for a change, those background attitudes can mean the difference between whether you can open up to your new reality and your possibilities or close down and try to go backwards.
If you choose to close down, you can drive the painful realities out of awareness, but they don’t disappear. The conflict can go into your body to create physical symptoms, even serious illness or burnout, or into your mind to create negative thoughts and self attack, or into your emotions to lead to depression, chronic rage or false cheeriness. You are also likely to disconnect from the inner core of you that wants to guide your life in positive directions and may feel lost, confused and helpless.
Fear gets you ready for an emergency reaction of fight, flight, freeze, or collapse. This is great if you are in physical danger, but it doesn’t work when you are trying to create a creative, powerful and loving life.
Opening up, on the other hand, means you can acknowledge what is really going on, get in touch with your creativity and your infinite resources, and allow yourself to have a true turning point and the joy of new beginnings.
Does it sound like a no-brainer of a choice? It is, if you take the long view, but doesn’t always feel like that at the time.
In the long run, these choices are an important part of how step by step and crisis by crisis you build the person that you are. They make the difference between creativity and rigidity, health and illness, joy and despair. They can even contribute, or not, to your longevity.
The choice you make will also have a big impact on others. You may fear that a choice that is good for you will disappoint or hurt others. It is worth remembering that what is in your highest best interest is always in the highest best interest of everyone around us.
Some ways to make it easier for you
This approach has led me down various avenues. One or more may be right for you:
- ImageWork is my self-help method of eliciting background mindsets and creating new images that guide you towards the future you want. Find out more about ImageWork
- Co-listening is a simple method I’ve created to help people listen more creatively to ourselves and to others. Find out more about Co-listening
- I see burnout as a symptom of an overdue turning point, where the healing comes from letting go of old constraining images of ourselves and opening to the new. Find out more about burnout
- Our worst fears of the future are a major factor that prevents change. I have discovered a powerful way to understand the nature of the fears, and show you that part of you that will be okay whatever happens. This seems to do the trick. Find out more about fear of the future
- As coach, therapist, mentor or group facilitator I support people to confront the difficult bits and find the best way forward. Find out more about coaching and courses
- What is sometimes called a midlife crisis can be seen as an opportunity to honour the past and revision the future. Janus, Roman god of beginnings and transitions with two faces, one looking back and one forward, can be our inspiration. Find out more about the Janus Years
- Communities and networks with a creative and loving culture can be crucial for holding you in a good space and facilitating your turning points. Find out more about Skyros holistic holidays