The following article is an excerpt from Integral Emotional Intelligence, Volume I.
When you feel called to grow and evolve, it is normal for various forms of emotional resistance to arise, such as avoidance, denial, defensiveness, or procrastination. Following are six keys to success for addressing resistance that may occur while learning the material contained in The Mastery of Integral Emotional Intelligence Program.
While the following practices were written as part of the introduction to the material in this program, they are useful in any domain in which you wish to initiate or accelerate your personal growth. These keys to success are attitudes and practices that are self-empowering. You don’t have to believe them per se. Instead, adopt them, act “as if,” and notice what occurs.
As you gain understanding of this material and practice it, you will empower yourself to accelerate your personal growth, discover more of your personal power, and strengthen your connection with who you really are—your authentic self.
You Are Okay Just the Way You Are
There is nothing “wrong” with you. You are not a bad or a wrong sort of person, and this material isn’t about fixing yourself. We each have our own foibles, wounds, and areas in which we would like to grow. But who we are inside, our inner being, is already worthy, competent, and deserving. We many have issues, but we are not our issues. We are so much bigger than our issues; we are the field of consciousness in which they exist.
Integral emotional intelligence is about cultivating and revealing more of who you truly are, your best self, and relaxing the hold of your negative ego. It involves strengthening your connection to your conscious self—your sense of inner being and magnanimity.
As you become more mindful, you become stronger, more wholehearted, and increasingly resilient. We are all in the process of becoming more conscious, heart-centered human beings, growing and integrating the lessons we’ve learned in life. This is the entire point of human evolution.
Your relationship to your sense of worthiness and your self-esteem, however that occurs for you, is a topic that will be revisited several times in this program. It is important to understand what these concepts mean.
Simply put, self-worth has no prerequisite other than existence. If you are alive, then you are worthy. You have value. The spark of consciousness that animates you, that grants you life, is the same consciousness that infuses every living being.
No one is more worthy or less worthy than anyone else. To believe otherwise is a lie, one that we bought into, usually when we were very young, when we felt wounded and were in pain. We internalized the dysfunction around us and thought that there must be something wrong with us to experience that sort of violation. When we continue to adhere to the lie of unworthiness, we are unconsciously stating that spirit, however we define it, is also unworthy.
Your self-esteem is how you measure what you think about yourself—your inner being and your outer expression in the world—in the present moment. It is like a radar or sensing device that, just like breathing, is always operating.
Your self-esteem comprises several components:
Your value judgments about who you are as a person.
Your sense of worthiness as a human being.
Your evaluation about your right to exist.
How well you think you are expressing yourself in the world through your actions.
The trance of unworthiness is an affliction that is particularly pernicious in Western culture, and if that is a lie you bought into early in life, then it will require some effort to get it to relax its hold on you.
This is critical work, as feelings of unworthiness lead to low self-esteem and are a major blockage to being able to give and receive love. Lack of self-worth can lead to depression, loneliness, isolation, addiction, and alienation.
Affirming and owning your innate worthiness is a major milestone on your spiritual path. Until you do, you will have a barrier to giving love and receiving love from others, and to receiving higher frequencies of love and guidance from your superconscious self.
Your personal growth is ultimately an infinite, winning game that has no end point; it is an ever-expanding and positive upward cycle. This process works best when you keep remembering your innate value and worthiness and avoid making yourself wrong or negatively comparing yourself with others.
It takes a sense of positive self-esteem, a willingness to be vulnerable, and a healthy dose of humility to accept that wherever you are on your personal journey is exactly where you should be. It also takes a willingness to let go of any attachment to negative self-talk or self-punishing behavior.
Developing your discernment is a process of refining your ability to home in on your inner truth. It is being able to zero in on what resonates with and feels right to you.
Discernment is the ability to look deeper, beyond the outer appearance of things, to discover the hidden or underlying truths that may be obscured by rhetoric or emotional intensity. It is a process of looking within for guidance while being self-reflective and inquiring into what the source and quality of that internal guidance is.
A key practice for cultivating your sense of discernment is centering in your conscious self and actively listening for the messages from your higher self or soul. It requires being in observer mode and being able to sort through and distinguish between the various voices in your head, for example, the voice of intuition as differentiated from the voice of the inner critic. This aspect of discernment will be gone into more deeply in later chapters.
To create value, it isn’t necessary to believe in or agree with everything in this material. What’s important is trusting yourself to determine what resonates with you and feels useful to you on your journey and letting go of what doesn’t.
Use the Power of Inquiry
Many assertions are made in this material. They are based on years of research and application. You are invited to view these statements as opportunities to inquire more deeply into how you have constructed your life, rather than as beliefs to which you must subscribe.
This material casts light upon and challenges many unconscious and commonly held negative beliefs, patterns, and assumptions. These assertions are intended to provoke deeper thinking and empower you in developing your intuition.
We will be examining the nature of beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions more fully. You are encouraged to use self-inquiry and self-reflection to identify unconscious beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions that have been holding you back and no longer serve you. Once recognized, you can then make a choice about adopting more beneficial ones.
Often the path of internal emancipation is a process of learning to ask yourself good questions. Your subconscious is designed to give you answers if you figure out what questions to ask and are patient and persistent about getting a response. It is possible to bring your unconscious modes of operating up to your conscious awareness, and in the process develop greater agency and autonomy.
Fear of what we might find lurking in our subconscious can fuel our denial and resistance to practicing self-inquiry. We often have a very adversarial relationship to our subconscious, which only makes it harder for us to grow and evolve.
You will discover as you go through this material that these fears are unnecessary, and that there is a much more empowering place to stand regarding working with your subconscious self.
Be Willing to Move Beyond Habitual Patterns
Psychological healing and growth cannot happen without first being willing. Healing old, destructive patterns is an expression of self-love and requires two things. First, you must be willing for the healing to occur, and second, you have to commit to being healed.
Remember that it is possible to shift even the most intractable patterns of thinking and behavior that are holding you back to ones that are more beneficial.
There are several distinctions and techniques we will be exploring regarding how to make this shift, including why you might be hanging on to old ways of operating that no longer support you. The first step is being willing to adopt the attitude that you can heal, grow, and evolve to happier states and more positive ways of operating in life. Sometimes feelings of discomfort arise when doing this inner work. This is a normal and, thankfully, temporary state.
Develop a Set of Practices
Your journey is unique, and you will have your own take on what distinctions and practices are most empowering to you. A practice can be something that you think or do that replaces an unhelpful pattern of thought or behavior.
Practices take many forms and are often tailored to specific goals or situations. Many practices are simply part of your inner conversation. These are things you tell yourself that are empowering, such as, “I can handle this,” whenever you are feeling anxious.
Some of your practices might be positive attitudes you are committed to holding, such as, “I can create value for myself out of this breakdown.” Or they might be actions, such as remembering to breathe slowly and deeply whenever you feel stressed.
Some of your practices can be thought of as little formulas for success, simple ways of operating, or routines that help you navigate your life with greater ease and enjoyment. Sometimes identifying the best practice for a recurring situation requires that you illuminate and unpack the unconscious dynamics that are driving the pattern you want to replace.
A key is to look for what “feels like an opening” for you. Naturally, if your practices don’t feel like an opening, then chances are you won’t do them. All empowering practices assist you in being more fully present and awake to what is occurring in your reality. They help to invoke the energy of your conscious self and soul and support you in becoming more heart-centered, calm, and composed.
Empowering practices are the thoughts, actions, and ways of being that resonate with you. They feel authentic and positive and enhance your experience of feeling okay and being in equilibrium.
Something to note about adopting new beliefs and attitudes is that it can feel awkward or odd when you try on new ones. If you are used to wearing sweatpants and try on a custom-made suit, then it might feel strange at first—but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Growth can feel uncomfortable as you are integrating new ways of being and operating.
Neural pathways grow through use, and chances are the beliefs or attitudes you want to replace have had years to solidify and create strong neural pathways. Thankfully, there is neural plasticity, which means that we can develop new neural pathways.
There is truth in the adage, “Fake it until you make it.” Remember that it is possible to create new patterns of thinking and responding; it just takes intention, repetition, and persistence. Therefore, it is valuable and necessary to develop a set of practices for yourself.
It can take time for results to manifest, and it is easy to become frustrated when things don’t seem to be moving quickly. Mastery takes time, patience, and practice. It is said that talent is only 10 percent of what it takes to become a great artist. The other 90 percent is the hard work of learning and practicing your craft.
Any great musician will say that mastery takes practice, practice, and more practice. They enjoy and take pleasure in the process of practicing and developing mastery. Becoming more emotionally intelligent is no different. Be patient with yourself, stay present, and be willing to make mistakes and feel awkward while practicing new skills.
Some of these six concepts may seem abstract at first. As you work with them, they will become more deeply ingrained. Their value as tools for accelerating personal growth and transformation will become clearer and you will get more traction with whatever issue you are working on.