Updated: Mar 7
Day 52/366 days Towards Self-Mastery. Mood: content
Our choices and decisions have to conform to what feels safe to us, and/or what meets a fundamental need.
Having read through some of the research and with my own experiences and knowledge behind me, I can comfortably say that the driving force behind decisions and choices is not well known.
What I can also say, is that if something feels unsafe to us we will make decisions and choices to move away from it if we can. That being said, there are certainly syndromes and conditioning of our brain and nervous system that prevents us from doing just that. Stockholm syndrome would be one example. The aligning with a captor during captivity is no doubt, a move to feel safe in an unsafe environment.
If we have unmet foundational needs, there is going to be a tendency to drive to have those needs met.
As we're exploring back through the various stages and phases of our life, become aware of some of the choices you made.
This archeological excavation back through the stages of our life unearths a lot of useful information that you can use to know yourself deeply, and that includes how you made and perhaps still make decisions and choices.
What drove those choices? What do you think about them now? How did you, and do you make your choices these days?
Our basic needs are supposedly met in the early stages of our life experience. The only thing is, they often aren't.
And when we look more closely we'll find that not only where our basic needs not met by our parents, their basic needs were also not met, and we could trace that back through generations.
And so we grapple with life, stumbling along, patching up here and there, trying to plug up holes of neediness without having a clue what's going on.
The quest for emotional intelligence is a trending phenomena at present, and great to see an increasing focus on emotional well-being in the workplace.
It would seem that the first step in learning emotional intelligence, if in fact it can be learned, is to recognise our basic needs, and support others to find their unique and satisfying ways of meeting those needs in the here and now. Rather than learning how to become emotionally intelligent, I have a feeling that emotional intelligence emerges or is activated when those needs are met.
Let's look at those basic needs
We have a need for stability and security. When this need is not met, we might find there is an innate drive for power and control in our lives. We are trying to feel that we are stable and secure, and sometimes a sense of power and force, control over our circumstances and others takes us close to that feeling.
We have a need to be loved. To experience closeness and caring from others. When this need is not met, what may happen is that we become needy in our relationships. We may be reaching out for closeness and caring, and not recognising the subtle ways that it is delivered by others. We may have an idea in our mind how it should look and feel and we seek to satisfy that idea.
We have a need for acknowledgment and recognition. When this need is not met, we may drive to prove ourselves to others. We may find that we are drawn to constantly seek feedback, seem attention seeking, and never feel worthy.
That's just a brief look and outline of what's possible. Each of us has our own version and ways of adjusting to try to make life wok, and feel right to us. Here are some of the ways that I adjusted, and some of the potholes that I encountered when those choices didn't work out so well.
The good news first.
My career choices were very satisfying. A move from school into nursing school, and eventually midwifery where I spent 20 years being of service in low income communities. Then into the entrepreneurial world, and now a return to being of service through providing therapy and life coaching. Absolutely passionate about the work I did, it helped to satisfy my need for acknowledgement and recognition very successfully. In these roles I could excel and receive immediate feedback. My nursing and midwifery career also provided some relief for my need for closeness and caring.
Now the tricky stuff.
My relationships were rubbish. My choices around life partners made no logical sense whatsoever. The trap for me was that initial euphoria, that melding into another that fed my hunger for closeness and caring. Once that was activated, my logical brain was out to lunch. Things went from great to bad, to worse, and there I was trapped.
Whilst I didn't become a course junky, I did strive to educate myself, and become very proficient in my areas of work and interest. This drive for acknowledgement and recognition took a long time to satisfy. Mainly because I was still unconsciously trying to prove myself to my early caregivers, my parents, long after that was no longer relevant nor necessary.
The drive to satisfy my need for closeness and caring also created a theme in my life of being overly helpful. Offering unsought advice, jumping in and helping out without an invitation, second guessing and finishing people's sentences. I still struggle with this aspect, and work to catch myself and bring these instances into my awareness.
These were the drivers of my choices and decisions. There's not very much logic in it when you discover what the missing links are and how we humans work to firstly adjust to those voids, and then adopt behaviours that try to fill them.
As you explore your decisions and choices, see how they match up with those 3 needs mentioned above.
We are human. This is what it means to be a living, breathing, managing, coping, adjusting, trying to figure it out, member of humanity. We're all doing our very own version of human. Be kind to yourself.
366 days Towards Self-Mastery
When I considered my New Year's intentions for 2020 I had just one: To allow my heart to love what it loved...and let it lead me. (If not now, then when?)
I've spent months working on integrating my life. To live life more fully with my home life, my interests, my work, my responsibilities, all coming together, all connected. I want to give each the attention that they desire and need, and still have time and energy for the others. That means living and working from the heart.
As I was clearing out my bookshelf over the Christmas break I discovered Simple Abundance. I set it aside to explore it on New Year's Day as I lazed through another delicious day of nothingness. Sarah, the author, says this book is about living in grace. Living in grace I realised, is about Self-Mastery.
My thirst for understanding the human condition has driven me all my life, and hand-in-hand with self-mastery it has been a life-long goal. And seeing as I love to write, that living in grace is about self-mastery, and I love a bit of a challenge, then if I am truly going to let my heart lead, I really don't have any other choice. So scary as it feels, I'm starting out on a daily mission of leaning into the suggestions of this daybook and making a daily post to keep me accountable. If not now, then when?
I'm Josie. You can find out a little more about me here.
Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy: by Sarah Ban Breathnach.
This book is written for the Australian and NZ market because it refers to seasonal changes. It's available on Amazon here if you'd like to follow along.