Evolutionary Blog

Distinctions to accelerate your personal and professional evolution

Is Your Relationship To God Wrecking Your Relationship With God? (Part 1)

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[Note to the reader: "God" is used throughout as a signifier to point to wherever you put your worship. It could be conventional religions as I will mainly address, but you could just as easily replace it with Gaia if you "put your worship" there--if the environment is your ultimate concern. or you could replace it with polytheistic beliefs such as Hinduism. Or maybe you put your worship in the Universe, Consciousness, or Community. Consider that whatever your ultimate concern is, the concepts in this article can apply to that thing as "God" for you. Doing this will allow you to get the most from this article. -Jason D McClain]

Is Your Relationship to God Wrecking Your Relationship With God?

It’s a provocative question, isn’t it?

Why even ask it? It is fraught with predicable emotional triggers and will produce reactions that may blur the importance and the point of the topic at hand.

We could use your relationship to your "self" or your relationship to others or even your relationship to money. The fact remains that we could use any of those concepts--any of those signifiers--to get to what we are pointing at and we will use a couple of them as lead-in examples because of their familiarity--but it would not be as effective to stop there for our larger conversation; not as effective as getting to the very root of our relationship to and with our deepest and highest stages. But even more to the practical: we will use God for the simple fact that there is no concept or question more galvanizing—making us sit up in our chair and pay attention--than questioning our very relationship to and with the Divine.

So we use “God”.

Before we begin to explore the question, we need to lay the ground on which we will stand: stages of egoic and emotional development. Stages that we interpret the world through and react emotionally from.  Stages through which we will interpret every aspect of our lives--events occurring around us, the actions of others as they relate to us, the world we navigate through politically, economically, romantically, and, yes, our spirituality and the nature of the Divine.

So if we are to examine our relationship to God (or “the Divine) then we must begin with an understanding of the lens we gaze through.

"God is like a mirror. The mirror never changes, but everybody who looks at it sees something different."  --Rabbi Harold Kushner

From pre-personal to personal to trans-personal. From vengeance to justice to grace. From pre-rational to rational to trans-rational. From ego-centric to enthno-centric or gender-centric or nationalistic to world-centric. From unconscious to conscious to super-conscious. These are just some of the ways we can label the grossest stages of development of the Self—and they are stages of increasing wholeness and increasing embrace. Each stage transcends, yet also include the benefits of the former. Each is noted for its increase in capacities and increase in the ability to hold an ever-increasing number of perspectives. We could also think about these stages as an expansion of what an individual can identify with or as. From ego-centric to ethno-centric / gender-centric / nationalistic to world-centric; identifying as just an individual to identifying as a member of a community or collective of individuals to identifying as a member of a global community—a citizen of the planet and a member of its ecosystem. Plainly put: our stage of self-development will determine our world-view—and that world-view will evolve over time. And that evolution will have a directionality.

Human development can be divided into three major phases: pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional, or pre-personal, personal and transpersonal (Wilber, et.al., 1986). This applies to the development of cognition, morality, faith, motivation and the selfsense. The infant enters the world unsocialized, at a pre-conventional stage, and is gradually acculturated into a conventional world-view, whether it be religious or secular. A few individuals develop further into post-conventional stages of post-formal operational cognition (Pfaffenberger, et.al., 2009), post-conventional morality (Sinnott, 1994;), universalizing faith (Fowler, 1995), self-actualizing and self-transcending motives (Maslow, 1971), and a transpersonal self-sense (Cook-Greuter, 1994; Wilber, 1980, 1983, 20001).

-Frances Vaughn, Journal of Transpersonal Research, 2010

We could say that one of the primary practices (as well as one of the primary indicators of personal evolution) is the ability to take on an ever-increasing number of perspectives; the ability to understand—even if not agreeing with—an ever-increasing number of perspectives or “views” of or “from” a given place.

And that lens—or lenses—is the filter through which we view the world as well as being the platform we will likely react from. This is not a box we can put ourselves or others in. It is not a classification as rigid as a “type”. Think of it more as a probability: a weather forecast, or a general orientation within high odds. Think of it more as a lump or a wave. But even still, the fact that we will likely interpret through and react from our “stage” of development of the “self” is hard-wired as a probability can get.

And, the endeavor we call “personal evolution” is the process of activating movement and moving through those stages.

Why is this important?

In the process of personal evolution we have both the mechanisms to create, and the path to enjoy, true peace within--and to reduce conflict without. An ever-expanding ability to hold an ever-increasing number of perspectives leads to a life that experiences greater ease, reduced fear and reduced anger, greater empathetic capacities, increased self-acceptance, increased capacities to handle whatever life may throw at you—and respond more resourcefully, and ultimately, leads to an aligned, purpose-filled and full-filled life.

As within, so without.

In recent history, it has become commonplace in personal development circles and communities for us to realize that our relationship to ourselves is very important—it is an accepted fact that it will determine a great deal of our experience materially, inter-personally, and emotionally. It may be thought of as self-concept, or self-esteem and self-acceptance, self-care, and self-love. This shows up in particularly high-relief/ particularly sharp in contrast in work with relationships where it is clear to more and more people (whether we like it or not) that our relationship with our self will determine our relationship dynamics with others: how well do we honor boundaries both for ourselves and for others? Do we feel we deserve to be happy and deserve to have a relationship in which we are treated well—with kindness and respect and love? How easily and openly do we communicate?

In essense: the degree of health we enjoy in our relationship with ourselves (and to our “self”) will have a great deal of influence on the degree of heath an vitality we enjoy in relationships with others—and life in general.

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Evolutionary Thinking on the Evolution of Ego | Expand and Dissolve Rather than "Annihilate"

We have been sold a bill of goods around ego. One that creates internal division and conflict. One that creates internal dissonance. One that creates pain. One that, at its worst, can foster a certain degree of self-hatred. A dis-ownership of the self. A bill of goods that is 2,500 years old in terms of its story around ego, the nature of ego, and the "problem" of ego.

And there is a better way. One that can create the same intended result with a kinder, gentler more self-accepting approach that can accelerate the evolution of the ego through the radical acceptance of expanding the ego, rather than attempting the psychological and spiritual suicide of ego annihilation. 

You can also see some similar themes around ego in the business context, read this article:  Self-Esteem and the Solo-Preneur | Internal vs. External Locus of Responsibility for an even deeper cut, taken from an email I sent a client a couple years ago, read Your Self-Worth is a Settled Matter.

Ok...ready? ::: Heh.

A quote from Ken Wilber I posted spawned an in-depth, yet brief—discussion on the nature and evolution of ego, Spiral Dynamics, the Integral community, and related topics, including the difference between cognitive development and actual development ::: the difference being understanding vs emotional response and being, or stated differently ::: one’s “center of gravity”.

The style is conversational, as it was an actual conversation.

Below are excerpted comments in the thread that followed. The order of some of the comments have been changed for continuity of the discussion, and for flow. Some have been deleted for the sake of relevance. If you want to see the full, unedited thread for yourself, you can see that HERE. The edited and streamlined version is below for your reading enjoyment.

The quote that started it all :::

“The ego is not a thing but a subtle effort, and you cannot use effort to get rid of effort--you end up with two efforts instead of one. The ego itself is a perfect manifestation of the Divine, and it is best handled by resting in Freedom, not by trying to get rid of ego, which simply increases the effort of ego itself.” --Ken Wilber 

Of course, I cannot speak for Ken Wilber—nor will I attempt to.

Simultaneously, I have read and listened to most of his stuff. As a result, I can certainly imagine—to varying degrees of accuracy—what he is speaking to, so I will attempt to translate him.

AND this will be based on my own experience after 19 years of conscious work, clearing, and self-examination and evolution—AND based on my work with over 200 clients one-on-one in my Personal Evolution Program, which lasted [when I used to do that work]  about 7 months--designed to accelerate the evolution of their ego ::: to widen their embrace. To increase their ease. To reduce their fear. To eliminate most of their anger. To increase their esteem for the Self.

So I may be and will be projecting/hallucinating…and it will be accurate—to varying degrees. Your mileage may vary.

So…what is “ego”? Most in popular spiritual and psychological circles will say we must transcend our ego, or worse ::: “annihilate it”. Is this healthy? Is this ecological? Does it suit the ecology of the environment we exist in?

The ecology of the self?

Is “ego what motivates us” as Pi asserts? Perhaps sometimes, yes. perhaps always—sure.

And the question for me becomes, motivates HOW? From what stage? Because, you see, we will be motivated differently from different stages, for different reasons.

For me, ego is essentially the seat of our consciousness. Where it rests and comes from. Not its Source. Its Source is the very kosmos ::: consciousness with a capital C. 

James Reidy suggested as a definition :::

Ego: n. a person's conscious and unconscious beliefs about their own identity. 

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Quadrant-Based Model for Esteem for the Self

Self-Esteem Matrix

[Validation (V) ::: Worth | Referencing (R) ::: Efficacy]
Internal and external locus

 

 

If we combine Dr Nathaniel’s definition of self-esteem—that is that self-esteem has two integral and inseparable—yet equally important and parallel—components:

  • Self-efficacy [knowledge of our effectiveness/our value/guilt]
  • Self-respect [Making choices appropriate to life/self-worth/shame

…with another multi-dimensional idea ::: that the “high self-esteem” and “low self-esteem” binary representation is inadequate to accurately explain some behaviors and behavioral choices, and we look at where the individual’s attention is, then we begin to create a richer and deeper—and therefore more accurate signifier—a more accurate representation of esteem for the self.

I prefer that phrase, that is: esteem for the self, to the more common phrase “self-esteem” for two reasons:

  1. The phrase/word “self-esteem” is one of the most misunderstood and overused phrases in American pop psychology. And,
  2. The phrase Esteem for the Self refocuses our attention where it should be; our opinion of the “me” in our self-concept.

 The sad part is that what most of the “experts” in academia call “self-esteem” is simply not self-esteem, but rather “other-esteem”. This can border on the absurd when supposed experts call for an end to competition. Or, an end to grades in school.

Given that our esteem for the self is our immune system for life, it must be tested, so it can grow, respond, and develop the metaphoric antibodies to the hardships of life. While I am far from competitive, I am glad it existed in my upbringing. Grades. Martial Arts training, science contests, spelling bees, etc.

Anyway … to bring a richer texture to the conversation … in the above figure we have 4 basic locations or orientations to esteem for the self. Internal / external and validation / referencing.

Below are some relatively raw notes on the quadrants above, but more importantly, below that is a table that lays out some of the misconceptions about what it means to have true esteem for the self. For those of you who know me to be a proponent of stage conceptions, this is not in conflict with an egoic stage conception, but it would overly complicate the conversation for mass consumption to add another dimension in this writing.

If you are curious about how this quadrant-based model would interact with a stage conception for egoic development, shoot me an email … ok:

With no further ado:

UPPER LEFT ::: If someone is Internally validated [VI] and they are externally referenced [RE] then we have the ideal situation; someone who is internally validated, and therefore “immune” at a core level from the opinions of others—yet also externally referenced, meaning they care about gathering feedback from the outside world and from others—so they can continually become more effective, and—if need be—adjust their behaviors. This quadrant is the healthiest of the quadrants. Those grounded in this quadrant will be happiest, more at ease with themselves, interact more effectively with others, and produce better results in the real world.

 

UPPER RIGHT ::: Internally validated and internally referenced. Not ideal. They truly do not care about the opinions of feelings of others—and do not need them, but simultaneously they do not notice their impact or care about their impact. You could call this person the empowered idiot. Unaware entirely.

 

LOWER LEFT ::: Externally validated and externally referenced. This person is constantly contorting themselves to whomever is around them, based on subtle or gross cues, but they are also dependent on the opinion of others to feel good about themselves. They try to be everything for and to everybody. I jokingly refer to this quadrant as “hell”. They will never feel good about themselves as they are never in touch with themselves—and do not even know who they are—and their feelings will shift like the wind upon the whims or preferences of others.

 

LOWER RIGHT ::: Externally validated but internally referenced. This person is desperate for people’s attention, their validation and praise, yet is inner-focused and not able to adjust to cues. Imagine them seeking approval, and constantly bumping into walls and people all the time. Desperate for approval. Never quite able to do the right thing to get it. Let's call this quadrant "purgatory".

Heh.

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Becoming Attached to [and Disidentifying from] Our Clients' Outcomes

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One of the CLC3 Apprentices recently asked me a very important question.

He asked about the problem of becoming attached to the outcomes of the client--in other words, “what happens if they do not achieve them? What happens if they do not hold up their end of the bargain [doing homework, reading, etc.], and what does that mean about us? How do I avoid this problem—and the discomfort of it all”.

“And what happens if--even worse, they have already paid in advance in full and it becomes clear they are not keeping up with the milestones that are necessary as sign-posts on the way to their destination we call 'goals' or 'outcomes'? What do we do?”

This is an important question and it has a several-part answer. It is important because it comes up for most coaches and practitioners; at some point you really, really want XYZ for the client. Yes, they must be outcomes the client wants [not outcomes you see they "need" but they do not resonate with] but even still, with their outcomes we get emotionally engaged--we care--and we want them to have XYZ really badly.

Part of the challenge is that we are not responsible for the lives of our clients--we can't be. They would get less out of the process if we were; at best, we would actually be inhibiting their growth if we take on that responsibility. They might blame us; they would take less responsibility for creating the life they want and deserve. It could become the coaches "fault" or for some, the coaching [or whatever you call the process] will be just another thing that did not work for them, etc.

And we created that with our attachment.

So the first part of the answer is to make clear to the client--practically--that we are not responsible for their life; that they are. How do we do this? We write it directly into the client-coach agreement that they "are responsible for the results of their life, business, relationship", etc. And given how some people can be when they are making large life-altering decisions, we review the agreement and then we further clarify and have them initial each paragraph while reviewing it with them to make sure we have done our due diligence as a practitioner in making sure they understand the nature of the relationship is one of trusted adviser--nothing more—and that they understand the agreement in full.

That is the practical aspect.

What about the interpersonal aspect? The actual coaching dynamic? Because you see, to complicate matters if you seem attached [that is you start become emotionally attached to their outcomes, you may engage them in a way that has them polarize, dig in, and resist you--and they start to resist you in ways that will not serve the process overall.

Or worse...

Or worse--they do not do their "homework"--whatever that may be or represent--and they are scared to tell you. In the worse cases they may simply go missing in action. Or they become dishonest.

This is simply another reason I am not a "coach" I am a "Guide" and that approach is something I am careful to embody in every interaction--they do not do their "homework" I communicate to them--with a compassionate smile and a shrug--that I want them to get their outcomes. That I care; and I may even ask them how they best want to be supported. How they want to be held accountable--and I have them design the dynamic.

I have found this softer approach--with nothing for them to resist or push back against--is far more effective than any hard-nosed techniques by far.

Finally [and at times most importantly] is our own development as we, as practitioners, continue our path: who we are is not the results we assist clients in achieving [both positive, amazing over-the-top goals as well as "failures". Who we are is not that.

Those are the results we assist them in producing, to be sure, and we are professionally responsible for that, but who we are is that which is experiencing it all. Who we are is that Witness; that locus of awareness. And as we come from that place, we will be even more effective, they will feel more freedom to expand and grow within that gentle, ever-present embrace. From that place, where universal beauty unfolds, we are reminded why we do what we do--for that expansion. And within that expansion a better, more joyous, more beautiful world awaits us all.

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Why NOT to Use Hypnotic Sales Techniques

Why NOT to Use "Hypnotic Sales" Techniques:

Often I get asked to teach someone "hypnotic sales" or some variation; anchoring, state association, etc. The idea is that if you associate someone into a positive state, then anchor yourself to that for them, this will be an effective sales technique--even if it has nearly nothing to do with your offering or the functional fit between your prospective client, and their needs with your services.

There are other ideas and approaches about this, but I am going to give just that one example. They are all of that flavor.

These techniques are thought to be very powerful, and some of the most effective techniques available. Which is partly true. They may be in the very short-term sense. They are also a nightmare strategically, in the long-term sense. Not only do I advise against it, I categorically consider them unethical in most situations.

If a prospective client cannot remember how they arrived at the decision to work with you [and as a good measure, if you can not easily remind them in writing over an email] then you are going to have blowback at some point in the future.

"Buyer's remorse" does not quite cover it.

 

So not only do I have people agree that they will only use the tools of influence that I do teach in service of someone else's outcomes [not their own], but I also advise against and refuse to teach hypnosis or anchoring in the context of sales and influence in the Evolutionary Sales process. It is anathema to all that Evolutionary Sales is. If you are always coming from the place of using tools of influence ONLY to assist another in achieving their outcomes, it is virtually guaranteed you
 be selling ethically.

Now there are trainers and entertainers and presenters and "edutainers" who not only use the hypnotic sales techniques, but teach it, brag about it, and sell products to do the very things I mentioned above as unethical in my not-so-humble opinion. I have also dealt with enough of their customers post-fact that I can say the resentments and shattered hopes as a result of that strategy is frustrating to watch and painful to behold, empathetically.

On the one hand, given the volume that people like Christopher Howard and Tony Robbins produce in terms of attendees, it is hard not to be grateful for what they are doing in the world in exposing people to rapid transformation. And to be honest, I am not sure how you could do it any other way in terms of sales with a crowd that large.

While hypnotic sales may be effective and the only viable solution in a large crowd [I question that, but it is efficient for short-term-monetary gain]; it is a toxic approach for those of us in solo-businesses as practitioners. 

There is a better way, where all sides are more effectively served. 

 What I do know is that if you are opening a relationship [rather than "closing deals"] You must engage the prospect in inquiry, mostly to be certain you can be of service. Once that is assured, direct them to consider if they did have the solution they seek what it would open up in their lives and then if you are certain you are a fit for their needs and they are a fit for you, then you can ethically open the relationship.

This is the process we teach in the Coaching the Life Coach Apprentice Program. This is the approach that assures conversion rates of over 95% AND what I call a "stick rate". In other words--no relationship fall off from buyer's remorse.

At the upcoming event I am not only going to teach this entire ethical sales process for free, but I will give you all the nuts and bolts you need to have high conversion rates in your introductory sessions.

Every nut and bolt I know how to deliver to you. In service of you having sustainability of finances, your clients having sustainability of change, so we can all create a better world together as we accelerate the Evolution of Consciousness.

Join us. RSVP now to reserve your spot

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