6th Principle - ENCOUNTER
“A meeting of two: eye to eye, face to face.
And when you are near I will tear your eyes out
and place them instead of mine,
and you will tear my eyes out
and will place them instead of yours,
then I will look at me with mine.”
Jacob Levy Moreno, founder of Psychodrama
Human evolution was forged by relationships. For millions of years, our ancestors were raised in community life, bonding and interacting with their peers. From birth, our brains and nervous system are wired to engage in social connection because, as newborns, we are unfit to survive without the nurture of another being.
From a psychological perspective, to leave our mother’s womb is like coming from a primordial state of chaos and non-separateness. Within the first years of childhood, we go through a process of separation, leading us to higher levels of self-awareness which lead to individuation. Paradoxically, there would be no ME without YOU. Self and other are two inseparable phenomenon, co-creating their individuated inner and outer realities.
During the individuation process, there is a developmental stage where the child experiences a healthy narcissistic state, where self-affirmation determines most of his/her behavior.
In a child with a “normal” development, this stage will be integrated and, eventually, give rise to a more empathic and altruistic behavior. The child realizes there are limits to his/her pleasure seeking impulses and accepts that other people’s needs must be taken into account. From this balanced interplay between the Pleasure and the Reality Principles, children grow into mature, empathic and resilient adults.
However, as we look at the history of humankind and witness all the suffering, violence, warfare and abuse taking place on a collective and individual level, we must question from what place are we connecting and relating with the world. How we relate with other human beings, other animals and the planet itself.
On a collective level, our relationship with the world is often based on power, violence and abuse. This violence varies from extremely raw forms of expression to subtle energetic abuse. When doing so, we objectify our relationships with other human beings, animals and Nature in order to satisfy personal momentary needs. This immature, narcissistic behavior, coined by the philosopher Martin Buber as an I-It relationship, causes separation and pain.
All spiritual traditions bring a message of non-duality, a reality imperceptible to the mind and accessible only from the heart, where we merge in unity with God, the Universal Consciousness or however we would like to call it. These transcendent experiences are not limited to spiritual practices. In many different situations, we jump into a state of flow where the limits of our physical body fade away, giving us an experience of being merged with the world around us. You may have felt it when playing a music instrument, walking in nature, playing sports or holding your newborn baby for the first time. Whatever the catalyst, one factor is common: the inner state from which we connect and relate with the world.
An Encounter, I-Thou, me and you, Self and Other forms of relating, brings us to the present moment. Time ceases to exist and the space of interaction becomes sacred. In this place, our being shows itself in all its potential, becoming authentic because its originality and uniqueness shines through. We resonate with the other as he or she does with us, both giving in to a deeper listening and allowing a fine tuning to take place. The quality manifested in such Encounters unfolds the potential of healing and allows creativity to flow freely.
In such moments, we become leaders of our own life, empowering ourselves to freely express our life energy and allowing it to be seen by the world. By embracing our vulnerability, we connect with our biggest strength and our heart becomes the door from which we perceive and step in to the world.
5th Principle - AUTHENTICITY
Throughout life, we play many roles. As newborns, we soon start to detach from a symbiotic relationship with our mother or primary caretaker and develop a sense of self. By then, with no or little conscious of it, we play the role of son/daughter, brother/sister and the role of the child. As we develop into adulthood, these roles multiply and vary in terms of responsibility and demands. We assume the role of man/woman, father/mother, husband/wife, friend and the professional.
We have adaptive skills that enable us to adjust and mold our appearance, posture and style of communication according to the context. We show certain aspects of ourselves when we are playing with our children and other aspects when we are in a business meeting, for example. The ability to do so is a sign of a healthy adjustment to the different environments and contributes to build and expand our personality.
However, these roles might turn against ourselves. When we over-identify with a certain role, it becomes a mask and it cuts us from our essence.
We’ve all gone through the process of needing or wanting to become someone or something which we are not. In different extent, each of us has experienced the feeling of not being enough, the need for approval of others and the adaptation of our behavior to match a certain idealized self-image. We already start this process at a very young age, adapting to our environment in the search of acceptance, nurture and love. In essence, we might end up betraying our essence for a sense of belonging.
Wether it’s a personal, a professional or a therapeutic setting, showing up in our masks or in our authenticity will determine how our relationships will unfold. Unfortunately, when we are too tied up to our personas and too fearful to showing up in our truth, the easiest way is to show up is our masks.
In 1961, the American psychotherapist Carl Rogers stated: “(…) personal change is facilitated when the psychotherapist is what he is, when in the relationship with his client he is genuine and without “front” or façade, openly being the feelings and attitudes which at that moment are flowing in him.”
Rogers realization of the importance of what he coined Congruence shook the foundations of Psychotherapy because the focus was - and mostly, still is - to arm therapists with theoretical knowledge and technical skills.
And this is the reality for most of our professional fields. What it creates is a reinforcement of the professional mask because it projects an image of the knowledgeable and skillful professional against a disempowered patient/client/listener. It leaves aside a fundamental aspect that can and should be stimulated and developed, which are our relational and communication skills.
It is challenging to apply the Principle of Authenticity in our professional and personal relationships because It requires a tremendous deal of self-work so that we might show up in our vulnerability. Authentic expression invites us to take risks, to accept mistakes as part of a learning process and to have the courage to stand up and admit the mistakes that we will make during the journey. However challenging it may be, to connect to our core qualities and expresses the essence of our being is what we will gain in return.
In our Authentic Leadership Model it is the conjugation of these five Principles: Sacred Space; Presence; Empathic Resonance, Deep Listening and Authenticity that will enable us to reach out and connect with others in such a way that the outcome will be an Encounter. In our next post, we will explore the meaning and true nature of the sixth and last Principle: Encounter.
Today we share with you the 4th Principle of the Authentic Leadership Model - DEEP LISTENING
The phenomenons of the world are perceived by our five senses, who mold and shape our experience, creating our impression of both worlds, the external and the internal.
Deep Listening is the ability to tune in to the information being processed in and around us at any given moment and bring it into awareness, thus creating our experience of self.
This process happens in two directions:
From the outside to the inside: we relate through sight, smell, touch, sound and taste with the world around us and thus colect information about our surroundings. In this interaction, we process information to understand how to react and behave. When the environment is safe, we relax and are able to socially engage. When the environment poses a threat, we either go into a Flight or Fright mode or we freeze. This autonomic responses are defense mechanisms that enabled our ancestors to survive in the wild and, still to this day, play an important role in peoples lives especially in those who suffered trauma, abuse or live in a highly stressful environment.
From the inside to the outside: when actively listening to our inner world, we can connect to a deeper layer of our being. Beyond the social and cultural conditionings that conform our actions, there are spontaneous impulses who constantly try to reach the surface and be expressed in the world.
Because of our fears of rejection, humiliation and shame, these impulses are often filtered to conform to social rules in such a way that, when finally expressed, they have lost their originality and authentic nature. They no longer are an expression of your unique being and have transformed to an adaptive response to the norm. Self-judgement is the filter and the blockage for our full self expression.
However, we’ve all experienced moments when we give space to these impulses. Whenever we express our creativity, when we follow our intuition and when we react in such a spontaneous way that we don’t have the chance to stop ourselves from expressing whatever is there to be expressed. We are not talking about acting out, recklessly and with no consideration for others. We are talking about making space for our being to express him/herself fully without fears and judgments.
When in a state of Presence (1st Principle), we start resonating empathically with the world around us and the people we relate with (2nd Principe). In this moment, we are able to listen and connect to our wisdom, intuition and inner guidance, thus giving space to our spontaneous and creative impulses to be expressed.
In our Authentic Leadership Model, we emphasize the importance to include in our professional practice what lays beyond the theoretical knowledge and our technical expertise. That is, the wisdom that sits deep within us and the ability to trust that our spontaneous response in a given situation will serve the relationship and support the other person’s process.