Over the course of the weekend I was having a discussion with a friend of mine and we were talking about relationships and after ending one relationship what was the key to starting again. Repeatedly the discussion went back to philosophy, meaning a shared and common set of values that transcends all other aspects of relationships. It is how I think religious or cultural themes may have worked in the past (not so much the diluted versions we see nowadays) where there was a strong belief system that everyone adhered to. All decisions, big or small, were made by adhering to a philosophical set of beliefs or rituals, that reduced the tendency for human pettiness, ego and self-interest to enter into the picture. I can’t remember who first said that if we had a strong set of common values that governed us there would be no need for laws as we would simply know what to do and act on that knowledge. So this brings me back to the discussion around marriage and relationships and the question regarding on how to make them work.
With the divorce rate over 50% we obviously seem to be missing something. Several years ago, I took a concept from my physical fitness training practice (S.A.M ~stabilize first ~ activate or focus on targets or goals ~ then move) and introduced it into the I AM Project coaching practice (I teach life coaches, therapist and counselors) and it seemed to fit exceptionally well. The concept is simply this, when starting to work with a client, either on a physical or mental plane, we need to first center them, in the physical sense, their core musculature, and in a mental sense, their governing philosophy. Why this is so crucial is that our body and mind learn through exposure to repetitive external stimulus, good and bad, so we must first determine if our current level of behavior is based on a mental/physical foundation that is stable and strong. Most often, there is some level of strength to be found, but over all there probably many areas that have learned how to function despite being unstable. In the gym, we would spend time developing posture, range of motion, muscle length and core strength, then we would build the rest of the body to that strong and established core.
This is rarely done because most are in a hurry to “get fit” rather than take the time to lay down the foundation properly. How about with our philosophy? I know when working with others, and doing work for myself, that rarely do we find anyone with a complete governing philosophy, but instead we find a guarded posture, like with a physical injury, inhibits the injured area from healing. Granted, there may be a high level of functioning, lots of good things being done (good parent, good friend, good employee) but in the areas of the heart, the guarded posture has a philosophy all of its own. In fact, for each area of our life (finances, wellness, relationships, spirituality, contribution, career, family) we will generally find “different” philosophies or values for each one, making our internal world incongruent and at times chaotic (despite what we show to the outer world). So, similarly to how we would work with an injured client physically, we would take time to first develop their core, and in this case, try and discover their core values, their governing principles, and see how and if they showing up in all aspects of their lives with these principles intact (finances, wellness, relationships, spirituality, contribution, career, family).
For me, and assuredly most of us today, it does not, but it is a process well into motion. As I navigate through my personal life changes I find that the tendency to create a guarded posture around many areas in my life such as family, finances and relationships. So, there is an incongruent set of wants, needs and desires based on the current instability I am experiencing, and the most powerful way forward is to begin the process of determining what values and philosophy I need to embody. That is the act of first stabilizing myself so that no matter where I look in my life, the governing principles I have chosen to live my life by are there. From that place, and ideally that place only, will I be able to build a life that is truly harmonious, mind, body and soul. Thank you, thank you SAM I AM.