Child development seems to follow this course of outer, inner in its focus. Develop new skills, incorporate the skills into your self, practice the new thing learned, and then build on it. So when you look at child development literature you’ll notice this spiral of skills development and then integration.
Psychotherapy follows a similar course: address the outside layer and then go deeper uncovering layers and then recombining into a new self, so to speak. Often I will hear people say: “I’ve already worked on that.” And indeed they have – but there is a spiral to personality and character development where we learn skills or coping strategies and then we have to incorporate them, and then we have to sometimes unlearn and re-incorporate. Over time it’s a spiral: outer work, inner work, outer work, inner work and so on.
Change seems to have this dynamic focus as well. Identify something you want to change, comprehend what interferes with change, make efforts to move the block and incorporate the new behavior (outer), then after time the change occurs internally and there is both a new thing or cognition (inner) about the identified thing as well as a new action or behavior (outer). Outer work, inner work, outer work and so on.
These shifts in focus are like mini-paradigm shifts of figure and ground.
Letting go of unconscious habit patterns follows this spiral; you notice the habit reaction patterns are there and how they are interfering with living in the now. Then you increase your mindfulness to see if you can be more present and respond from a centered and mindful place. This process is dynamic and it is spiraling which means you may feel as if you’ve already dealt with an issue and then find yourself dealing with a similar issue in a different context – outer, inner.
The emotional charge or energy that’s connected to the unconscious habit pattern gets released once the inner change has rooted. So just as you don’t feel the charge you are more centered and able to connect to yourself from the inside out. So you feel simultaneously more flexible AND more stable. This allows for you to remain flexible and centered even when something from the outside goes wrong. You are not thrown off by the unexpected event but rather you are able to bend and be flexible and respond to the event without anger, fear, or any other emotional charge.
The visual for being simultaneously flexible and centered is the tree bending in the wind while safely rooted into the soil. It can respond to the environment around it without losing its center and grounding.
The Spiral and the Tree. Keep these two visuals in your mind as you go about your days for the next two days as you view yourself, and yourself in your world.
See you tomorrow.