Published on Charity Village
Date: 30th October 2019
“That’s just the way I am.” Maybe you’ve heard this statement from others or have uttered the words yourself. Somehow, we tend to think that once we have uncovered certain realizations about ourselves, we have arrived at some final destination. It’s as though we will never experience any change or develop and grow in any way from that point on.
Sometimes we can use that approach as a way of resisting change or avoiding the acceptance of full personal responsibility. We make a grand announcement, in a way, that tells others ~ “this is it ~ take me or leave me ~ you will simply have to adjust.”
You might be familiar with different personality tests and self-assessment quizzes. You come out on the other side knowing that you are an introverted or extroverted, and leave it at that. These tests can be fun and, at times, you might even touch on some deep insights that lead to meaningful shifts for you. My concern with these tests is that they often result in some type of label that we then begin to identify with ~ and this is limiting. What started off as a search for deeper self-understanding ends up leaving you feeling like you have fewer options.
Awareness ~ Connection: What’s the difference?
Self-awareness can take us out of the moment, either by looking back or projecting ahead, while self-connection deepens our capacity for presence and engagement.
Self-connection takes us beyond the self-realization process and guides us back to the present moment and our experience right now. It is less about analyzing ourselves and mulling things over intellectually and more about feeling our emotions and physical sensations while listening for the wisdom that arises. It is less about picking apart a decision or an action after the fact in search of improvement, and is more about feeling so connected to your experience right now that you are intuitively guided and are capable of responding within the situation.
As Service Providers, we are often conditioned to “leave it at the door.” We are reminded that our service is not about us. Rather, it is about the person sitting across the table ~ the one who has sought our support in some way. True, the object of the interaction is centered on what matters to that person. And yet, there are at least two subjects involved. And you are always one of them.
Knowing yourself intimately provides the freedom to choose how you show up in service to others. It is your humanity that will set the stage for relationship development, something we will discuss in further detail in an upcoming segment. But for now, know that you are the human in human resources. And your capacity to serve relies not only on how well you care for yourself, but also your ability to be with yourself.
Self-Reflective practice is the active and dynamic process that gives life to what it means to be in Conscious Service in the world. Like any other practice, there is no specific destination other than touching base with the core of your being. You will come to discover that on each trip back “home” you have the opportunity to discover something new, thus making the point of arrival a place of unexplored territory.
Self-reflective practice often occurs after an event as we process and make sense of our experiences. However, the more we engage in self-reflection, the closer we come to a state of self-connection. As our practice deepens, we become attuned to what it feels like to center into the core of our being. We are aware of our feelings in the moment and we learn not to ignore what they tell us. We notice when we are out of balance, when we have been triggered, and when we have just stumbled into a space of inspiration and passion. Self-reflective practice helps develop the capacity for more frequent and prolonged states of self-connection.
I have found it beneficial to have a variety of practices that lead me to the core of my being and help me to tune into my experience in a holistic way. I encourage you to do the same as you establish and maintain your own personal practice.
Solitary practices include any activity that you engage in on your own. This could include journaling, meditation, yoga, prayer, exercise. Any activity that brings you to your personal here and now ~ by yourself.
Connected and integrated strategies for self-reflection involve other people and influences. You may hate journaling, but you love debriefing with your friends and colleagues. And it’s even better if you can get out for a walk while you do that. Listening to music or reading books may offer you the observer’s perspective as you notice how you respond to what you hear and understand. When you see yourself on the page of a book or hear your story in the lyrics of a song, you know you have landed on a point of resonance.
At first, it might be helpful to establish a routine in your daily schedule. Put self-reflective activities on the agenda just like you would any other commitment. Over time, it will become an automatic response. And in those times, when you wander far from yourself, the foundation you have laid will serve as your reminder to come back. Once you experience that deeper sense of self-connection on a regular basis, the discomfort of disconnection is a loud and strong motivator to return to practice.
Maybe this sounds like lots of work. Think of it instead as an investment. Socrates’ philosophy that “the unexamined life is not worth living” supports the value of self-reflective practice and the ultimate gift of self-connection in our daily lives.
When you foster your sense of self-connection, you invest in your personal well being. You send the message that what matters to you is important. You show that you care about you. Your experience of joy and fulfillment is integral to your quality of life.
And that, in itself, is enough.
As a Service Provider, your capacity to be present and engaged with others will go through the roof. Your ability to offer high-quality service in responsive and meaningful ways will be amplified. You will be walking the same walk that you would suggest others take.
And that is powerful.
From an organizational perspective, an agency full of self-connected people will come to realize improved functioning, successful outcomes, and overall health and vibrancy in their community.
We are already well-versed in the practice of giving. We are hard-wired as Service Providers to be externally focused. This natural drive must be balanced with, at least, equal parts of introspection and self-presence. It is the only true path toward collaboration and connection and away from competition and disunity.
And when there are missteps along the way, a self-connected state offers the opportunity to choose how you respond to yourself and others. Self-connection gives you greater capacity for the expression of self-love, self-compassion, and self-care. When you are in service to others, this is essential ~ and quite honestly, is often deeply lacking or even absent for many.
In self-connection, you know that you are right by your own side, you’ve got your back, you’re not going anywhere, and you are claiming center stage in your life.
You are in the driver’s seat and what you offer in service to the world from that position is priceless.
Elizabeth Bishop is the creator of The Conscious Service Approach. She regularly facilitates workshops based on the principles of the approach both online and in person. Elizabeth can be reached at www.elizabethbishopconsulting.com, on twitter at @askelizabethb, and Facebook and Linkedin at Elizabeth Bishop Consulting.