I sit facing the divided-up screen on my laptop while in the comfort of my kitchen, the fire crackling, hot tea steaming on the table, a myriad of resources litter my table; a scribbler, a journal and pen and my instruction manual, “The 9 Steps to Emotional Fitness by Warren Redman”. I usually find 5-6 mini-portals on my screen, each of which framing the faces of all attending “class”. I’m not sure if it’s due to pandemic restrictions limiting in-person gatherings or by other design but, yes, classes are on-line. Either way I find this social platform lends itself well to the delivery of the program. While in a break-out room where it is my turn to be the “Presenter” to another designated “Listener” (we take turns in all roles), I share my thoughts and put language to emotion surrounding the theme of my “Life Purpose” or sometimes phrased as the `Why I do what I do`. Through the use of open-ended clarification questions and the rephrasing of thoughts I mutter, my “Listener” holds the ‘door’, encouraging me to explore my Inner Self where the deepest understandings of myself reside. I turn inward, expanding on what was shared, clearing matters up, learning about myself in the process. The question of my ‘Why’ seems to occupy my headspace in the days, even weeks that follow.
Lately, after some time alone, reflecting on what I continually learn about myself, I’ve declared that my ‘Why’ is to serve others. Noble and albeit selfless, I perceive this to be the filler for what’s missing in my life, the elusive and intangible answer to my questions, the goal to my quest, the satisfaction to my yearning, the peace to my inner turmoil. This acknowledgement provides a bit of solace….briefly. As I deepen the listening to myself, I begin to uncover some overlooked “Truths”. Yes, serving others is a true act of greater good but I wonder how can this be accomplished without serving myself first?
In every session (class or break-out practice room), EVERYONE contributes willingly to setting the ground rules for engagement, a social contract; an ever-evolving, living document. In doing so, I become committed to my personal journey as well as to everyone else. Unanimously embracing the value of non-judgment as our guide, I learn to listen, as prescribed by the framework and ethics of Emotional Fitness®, to others and, surprisingly, to myself. My biases and/or personal agendas nor advice-giving tendencies have no place when I am fully and completely absorbed in my intent to listen, asking only clarification questions. This skill has been easier said than done for me but the weekly practice helps me approach my idea of perfection.
How do I serve myself? What does it even look like? How do I even begin to identify what my “Self-needs” are? As I deepen my practice of Listening to myself as facilitated through the framework of Emotional Fitness®, I find myself on the path of the “Self-Examined Life”, all based on the premise that I behold the innate wisdom providing the guidance to all my queries-even if it is nothing more than to identify shortcomings or gaps in skills and knowledge. I understand that this “Truth” is ever-present, awaiting the moment of invitation into consciousness. Herein lies, for me, the rewards of the self-examined life facilitated through the tools of Emotional Fitness®. As I journey through them, I endeavour to learn about my true, genuine, authentic “Self”. I trust that it is here that the answer to my “Why” resides-to be exposed with the support of the Emotional Fitness® framework.
I would be doing a disservice to this process if I did not make any reference to the positive impact the other participants in the class have on me. While practicing Time Capsule (one of the 9 Steps to Emotional Fitness®) I witness vulnerability, fears, desires and resilience by all. As I listen to them, a likely gem within the framework emerges for me – I experience listening to myself; my fears and vulnerabilities, my desires and resilience take form. With patience and gentleness, listening to myself is where I experience the strongest growth – the fruits of the self-examined life. Within this supportive framework, I willingly face my fears and uncomfortable places my consciousness often avoids or suppresses, casting light on what lurks in the shadows of my sub-consciousness. The journey is ever-present, all encompassing – every moment of my waking life becomes informed by aspects of my new found awareness through self-examination. I practice moving away from patterns of self-sabotage and self-imposed restrictions. Embedded in the emerging self-awareness, I witness a reckoning with past traumas, habituated behaviours, disconnections with my Higher Self. Inevitably I experience resistance, largely based in fear and self-sabotage. I notice that the very issues putting up the greatest resistance are the ones most present during self-examination. Again, I experience a gift of this process. As I evolve, I loosen the grip of my self-limiting beliefs and patterns … maybe even one day no longer surrendering to them at all.
In the closing moments of my session, my Listener invites me to reflect on what I shared and invariably asks, “What is your Action Plan?”. I’m reminded that the gifts revealed throughout these sessions are mine to be used in any way I see fit. In owning them, a call to action is within my grasp, to be created solely by me for me. For me it’s been the realization that I’m living a trauma-informed life. That is that my life-long behaviour and thought patterns have likely been co-created by challenging incidents in my past, among a myriad of other influences no doubt. As I turn the focus onto myself, with the help of Emotional Fitness®, I peel back the layers that have made me who I am and am offered an opportunity to dare become the creator of my “Present” moment moving forward. Perhaps, one day, even embodying an emotionally fit version of myself.