Day two of this journey into these strengths cards, and it’s already a tough one. At least it is for me.
I had a very religious upbringing that played a big part in making me who I am today. Until my late twenties, I’ve been very active in my parish. I lovely memories of those years; a lot of fun and a great sense of belonging.
Then something broke within me. I began to perceive the forms of which I was part, as empty shells. That sense of emptiness became so strong that I had to walk away.
For many years, I did my best to stay away from the word “spirituality”. As if it was tainted somehow. It took me a decade to release the beliefs and conditionings that come with that word. Only then, I was able to begin a new journey of rediscovery to bring back that part of me in my life. And almost another decade to become comfortable in using this word again.
Now I see spirituality as the ability to perceive the essence beyond the form. And it’s an ability that I practice every day.
I haven’t written much, but as I said, this is not an easy word to write about. So, I’d like to share two writings that I love on the subject.
“The Mystical Core of Organized Religion” by Br. David Steindl-Rast is an excellent article about the relationship between organised religions and mysticism. The image of the volcano is so powerful, and it perfectly describes how I felt when I stepped away from religion.
“The Egg” by Andy Weir is a magical story that resonates with me on so many levels and can give you an idea of where I am today.
I grew up with the myth of the self-made person. With the idea what one gets in life depends only on his or her choices and actions.
I read all these stories of successful people and companies explaining how they did it, how they were smart, committed and relentless in chasing their vision until they get the desired outcome.
Inspiring stories, no doubts about that.
But I feel something is missing.
There must be more to it.
What about all the other smart people who made the same choices and did the same things but failed? What about all the ones who would have the same potential but didn’t have the same opportunities?
What’s the role of fate, destiny, providence, luck, the universe or however you want to call it?
If we believe that we are in control of the outcomes, that we are the sole author of our successes and failures, we run the risk of taking every failure in what we do as a failure of who we are. But that belief is even more dangerous when we are successful. We may become blind to the struggles of others.
More and more, I realise that cultivating humility is vital to nurture our humanness and our shared humanity. When we accept that we control so little of the process – only our thoughts and the way we choose to respond to a situation – and even less of the outcomes, we become more open and generous.
Though, don’t get me wrong. Our choices and actions are essential ingredients. They make that last ten per cent without which we won’t get the outcome. But to acknowledge the other 90% is what makes us human.
Last week I was talking with a group about trust. It was interesting to observe how everyone had their rationals to decide if someone can be trusted, but digging a bit more, it was clear that in the end, it was all about gut feeling. So, my conclusion was that we should trust more our instinct because our mind plays tricks.
Then during the weekend, I co-facilitate an archery experience in the woods. One of the things I love about archery is that it allows exploring the wisdom of the body. The body doesn’t lie, so it provides crucial insights on what happening inside us. But I also discover that some times, instinct can take us away from our real nature. So, maybe we should trust something else.
Maybe we should always follow the heart, as many suggest. But to be honest, a few times my heart led me into some painful situations.
So, what should I trust? What should I follow? My mind, my heart, my guts, my body or something else?
And then I realised it.
They are all part of me, and they are like a team.
My very own inner team.
When a part of me struggles, the others are there to provide guidance and support. When some parts of me are blinded, the one that can see leads the way.
When they are aligned, working together as one, that is where I can do magic.
So my daily practice is to take care of my inner team, nurture all the parts of me and create alignment between them.
Lately, I’ve noticed how people more often seem to “talk to” instead of “talking with”. Maybe it has always been like that, and I wasn’t aware, but I have a feeling that it happens more and more both in online and onlife conversations.
Sometimes I catch myself doing it.
When we “talk to”, the goal is to share our truth and get our message through. When we “talk with” the aim is to understand, to expand our knowledge so we can challenge our perspective and grow.
In the first case, the most critical skill is the ability to talk, to deliver the message. In the second one, the essential skill is the ability to listen.
Perhaps, before entering any conversations, we should ask ourselves about our intentions. Are we in it to listen, or do we just want an opportunity to share what we think?
If you enter a conversation knowing when it is going and what will be the outcome, then I’m not sure it is even a conversation.
I think a good measure to understand the type of conversations you’re having is to reflect on the questions you ask.
If you’re asking questions for which you already know the answers, then probably it’s not a conversation, but it looks more like an interrogation.
This morning I picked a card saying “everyone has the power to affect the direction of an organization“. And in my mind that “organization” immediately became humanity as a whole.
How many times we feel powerless before the big challenges humanity is facing. From climate change to inequality, from poverty to wars.
Yet, we often do nothing even when we care because we feel powerless.
What can I do? I’m just a person, it won’t change anything. It’s our leaders’ fault, they are the one who should do something.
And then, while I was thinking about all of this, a thought came up from nowhere.
There is no such thing as doing nothing.
In some way, what we do or don’t do today will contribute to shaping the world of tomorrow.
If we are in this world, we are part of the game of life, and we can’t call ourselves out. We can stand there, or we can actively play. It doesn’t matter for the game, we are in. Together.