Mind the Gap

Mind the GAP – Follow the MAP *

(The World’s Holes are Our Holes)

Written by Barbara Meyers, MSW, LICSW

in group context with Alaya Chadwick, M.Div., MSW, LICSW; Mary Ellen Nicholls, MSW, LICSW; Katie DeGrella, MSW, LCSW; Karen Aznoian, Executive Integral Coach; Anne Suddy; L.M. Scally

THE GAP (or Hole)

In today’s world of the twenty-four/seven news cycle, it is easy to be witness to violence – civil wars, car bombs, assassinations, executions, riots, assaults – and react with rage and despair or with numbness as we seek to escape our fear that the world has run amok or the realization that we are all vulnerable and fragile beings.  At the same time it is easy to project our feelings and our judgments outward as if all of this is happening someplace “out there” across the ocean or in another part of America.  We make judgments about the “good people” or “bad people” based on religious choice, color, gender and power as if the world can be so easily divided into black and white or good and bad.

There is a gap (hole) – a space between – what is happening out there in the world and what is happening in our own lives and in our hearts.  So it was not long ago when our group of seven women met for our monthly consultation.  We meet to explore the edge where the personal and professional intersect.  In our meetings we share the mutuality of being both learners and teachers to one another in the service of becoming ever more conscious, compassionate, and present in both our work and our lives.  Regardless the topic introduced by one, each of us finds resonance in her own life.  Each topic or concern leads back inevitably to one central question:  What is the world, this concern reflecting back to me about me from which I can learn if I choose?  This question implies the possibility of a bridge spanning the gap between the self and the other.

THE MAP: THE WISDOM OF THE UNIVERSAL STORY

Developed by Elizabeth “Alaya” Chadwick, the Map is one aspect of a multidimensional, integrated model called THE WISDOM WAY**.  The model reflects a universal story about how we make sense of our experiences and develop strategies for getting our needs met.  As a guide, it offers an opportunity to move beyond our false beliefs to a place of evolving empowerment and self-development.  The foundation of THE WISDOM WAY is the belief that we are born whole and seek to return to wholeness despite the fragmentation that occurs as we negotiate the various systems in which we live and work.  The Map provides a template for considering one’s beliefs, strategies, and possible new paths towards health, positive change, and empowerment.

The basic elements of the Map are as follows:

  • Horrible Truth: Early experiences about those who had power over us
  • Meaning Maker: Strategies we used to appease or please those in power
  • Allowed To Be Me: Parts of the self we elevated to ensure our wellbeing and success
  • Not Allowed to Be Me: Parts of the self we abandoned or rejected believing we would be negatively judged, punished, or rejected if we used these parts
  • Curb: A triggering incident or experience that destabilizes our status quo
  • Spiral: Feelings that are evoked as a result of this experience
  • Portal:
    1. Sacrifice: Let go of False Beliefs that that convince us that the Allowed to be Me part is our whole self, and/or that our Meaning Maker Strategy will really succeed if we just work hard enough.
    2. Surrender Into: Embrace the truth of the Allowed to be Me parts AND the Not Allowed to be Me Parts in order to BE our genuine, authentic wholeness.
  • Radiance: A visceral transformation takes place where we experience ease, authentic empowerment and compassion for other people and ourselves, where connectedness with others is a source of purpose and love.

This is the map we use to understand our beliefs and feelings about what was happening in the world and then to bring it home to our own individual lives.

 

THE PROCESS

Nuclear weapons in the Middle East
  • When constructing the map, there can be different entry points. On this day we began with the curb (a today event that upsets our status quo). One of the seven women came to the consultation very upset about the Middle East having escalating violence and holding the world hostage.  We then began examining our feelings about this news, which we listed in the Spiral.
Angry – lives lost, no gain

Helplessness/Hopelessness

Distrust (of information)

Out of Control / Powerlessness

Futility / Sadness

Afraid (for us and next generation)

Confusion/Non-sense of war as solution

Frustration

Unsafe

Fear (of death and destruction)

End of world feeling

Theological commitment to apocalypse

Dense / Dark

Disorientation

In perusing the list of feelings, the reader may wonder how these feelings emerge from the various pieces of information gleaned from the news reports.  The news reports are only the catalyst, for the feelings reflect much more.  They reflect the distillation of a multitude of experiences relative to power, authority, trust, agency and the resultant beliefs about the self and the world.

How many people around the world would come up with a similar list?  What list would you create about what is happening in the world?  What may this teach us about our common ground?

  1. Once we listed our feelings, we considered our usual strategies when we encounter such feelings.
Angry – lives lost, no gain

Helplessness/Hopelessness

Distrust (of information)

Out of Control / Powerlessness

Futility / Sadness

Afraid (for us and next generation)

Confusion/Non-sense of war as solution

Frustration

Unsafe

Fear (of death and destruction)

End of world feeling

Theological commitment to apocalypse

Dense / Dark

Disorientation

If I   : Run & Hide

: Protect my knowing & keep it secret

: Empathize with the others and try
to understand (regardless of their
position)

: Worship peace-keeping

: Disconnect from my true self

: Figure out what to believe (get the

facts straight)

: Find & fix my wrongness

Here we see the struggle between overwhelming feelings and attempts to create personal safety.  Here is despair, helplessness, hopelessness, disconnection and withdrawal.  But notice that here we reveal another gap or hole.  We do not just have a gap or hole between the self and the other, but we have a gap or hole between one part of the self and another part of the self – a potential but unexpressed and unaccessed part of the self.

What are some other strategies for meeting overwhelming feelings?  What are your strategies when these feelings arise?  What can these strategies teach us about people’s lives?

Once we identified our strategies, we could then identify the Allowed to be Me side of the gap.  We do this by looking at our own strategy (run and hide, keep secrets …) and describing those parts of us that will implement our strategy.  Once we identify all of our Allowed to be Me qualities, we could then identify the qualities that would be on the other side of the gap.  These are the parts of us that are Not Allowed to be Me because they will interfere with our strategy and will keep it from “working.”

Angry – lives lost, no gain

Helplessness/Hopelessness

Distrust (of information)

Out of Control / Powerlessness

Futility / Sadness

Afraid (for us and next generation)

Confusion/Non-sense of war as solution

Frustration

Unsafe

Fear (of death and destruction)

End of world feeling

Theological commitment to apocalypse

Dense / Dark

Disorientation

If I   : Run & Hide

: Protect my knowing & keep it secret

: Empathize with the others and try
to understand (regardless of their
position)

: Worship peace-keeping

: Disconnect from my true self

: Figure out what to believe (get the

facts straight)

: Find & fix my wrongness

·     Peace and harmony

·     Trust the facts

·     Listen to the “authorities”

·     Empathy for others

·     Follow the majority

·     Compliance – go along to
get along

·     Vigilance

·     Stay positive

·     Be a better person

·     Protect myself

·     Rage and outrage

·     My knowing

·     My voice

·     Empathy for self

·     The Radical “No”

·     True self

·     Rest

·     Feelings of hurt/longing

·     Awareness of self

·     Wholeness of me in community

Here we see the parts of ourselves which we have split off in order to hold onto a strategy for maintaining our safety and connection to those whom we consider significant in our lives.  What comes home to us, too, are the sacrifices we have made in the service of implementing this Meaning Making.  We feel our longing for bridging the gap/hole and for bringing these parts of ourselves home to the self.

  1. Now the question becomes, “In order to bridge the gap/hole, what false beliefs would we have to sacrifice or give up?”
Angry – lives lost, no gain

Helplessness/Hopelessness

Distrust (of information)

Out of Control / Powerlessness

Futility / Sadness

Afraid (for us and next generation)

Confusion/Non-sense of war as solution

Frustration

Unsafe

Fear (of death and destruction)

End of world feeling

Theological commitment to apocalypse

Dense / Dark

Disorientation

If I   : Run & Hide

: Protect my knowing & keep it secret

: Empathize with the others and try
to understand (regardless of their
position)

: Worship peace-keeping

: Disconnect from my true self

: Figure out what to believe (get the

facts straight)

: Find & fix my wrongness

·     Peace and harmony

·     Trust the facts

·     Listen to the “authorities”

·     Empathy for others

·     Follow the majority

·     Compliance – go along to
get along

·     Vigilance

·     Stay positive

·     Be a better person

·     Protect myself

·     Rage and outrage

·     My knowing

·     My voice

·     Empathy for self

·     The Radical “No”

·     True self

·     Rest

·     Feelings of hurt/longing

·     Awareness of self

·     Wholeness of me in community

Let Go of the belief that:

 

·     Their response can kill me

·     Their God can kill me

·     Full-bodied expression of rage/outrage has the power to kill

·     Self-erasing is a neutral/safe action

·     I can change it all myself

·     I have to be all of myself without community

Look at this list.  See the deepening.  Here are the underpinnings, the bedrock beliefs that led us to split off aspects of the self without being aware or conscious of this.  These reflect historical beliefs about what one must do to survive metaphorically or really in an unsafe world.  These are the beliefs that sustained us when we were young, beliefs that helped us to survive yet, now as an adult no longer serve.  Though we believed that these would ensure our connection to those we needed, we can see, in retrospect, that we sacrificed significant aspects of the self in the process.  More importantly, until we shine a light on these false beliefs, we cannot appreciate how they still influence our lives nor can we appreciate how invalid they are now.

Are we any different from anyone else living in this world whether they are in Syria, Iraq, Paris, Moscow, Buenos Aires or Ferguson, Missouri?  What false beliefs would you have to sacrifice in order to claim your full being?

  1. Giving up false beliefs makes space for something new. The sacrifice implies new beliefs, new ways of being that will bridge the gap/hole.  Now the question becomes, “What must I Surrender Into or risk if I want to embrace the lessons the world has brought to me?”
Angry – lives lost, no gain

Helplessness/Hopelessness

Distrust (of information)

Out of Control / Powerlessness

Futility / Sadness

Afraid (for us and next generation)

Confusion/Non-sense of war as solution

Frustration

Unsafe

Fear (of death and destruction)

End of world feeling

Theological commitment to apocalypse

Dense / Dark

Disorientation

If I   : Run & Hide

: Protect my knowing & keep it secret

: Empathize with the others and try
to understand (regardless of their
position)

: Worship peace-keeping

: Disconnect from my true self

: Figure out what to believe (get the

facts straight)

: Find & fix my wrongness

·     Peace and harmony

·     Trust the facts

·     Listen to the “authorities”

·     Empathy for others

·     Follow the majority

·     Compliance – go along to
get along

·     Vigilance

·     Stay positive

·     Be a better person

·     Protect myself

·     Rage and outrage

·     My knowing

·     My voice

·     Empathy for self

·     The Radical “No”

·     True self

·     Rest

·     Feelings of hurt/longing

·     Awareness of self

·     Wholeness of me in community

Let Go of the belief that:

·     Their response can kill me

·     Their God can kill me

·     Full-bodied expression of rage/outrage has the power to kill

·     Self-erasing is a neutral/safe action

·     I can change it all myself

·     I have to be all of myself without community

Surrender Into/Embrace:

·     Love and self-understanding is enough

·     Living my knowing

·     Risking death

·     Speaking/Living my Bald, Naked, Truth

·     Choosing to “play the game” or not

·     Community needs and values me

·     Being part of community

Here are the foundations for world peace actions.  The macrocosm is brought home.  The happenings in the world suddenly become personal.  We see that it all starts at home, inside of each of us, not out there.  In the end, it is a grassroots affair.  What will you Surrender Into?

  1. And what happens when we risk the void, when we let go of these sacred, yet false, beliefs, when we embrace new beliefs and stop splitting off parts of ourselves, and enter the unknown? What happened to us that day when we risked our feelings of rage and despair and asked these questions of ourselves?
Angry – lives lost, no gain

Helplessness/Hopelessness

Distrust (of information)

Out of Control / Powerlessness

Futility / Sadness

Afraid (for us and next generation)

Confusion/Non-sense of war as solution

Frustration

Unsafe

Fear (of death and destruction)

End of world feeling

Theological commitment to apocalypse

Dense / Dark

Disorientation

If I   : Run & Hide

: Protect my knowing & keep it secret

: Empathize with the others and try
to understand (regardless of their
position)

: Worship peace-keeping

: Disconnect from my true self

: Figure out what to believe (get the

facts straight)

: Find & fix my wrongness

·     Peace and harmony

·     Trust the facts

·     Listen to the “authorities”

·     Empathy for others

·     Follow the majority

·     Compliance – go along to
get along

·     Vigilance

·     Stay positive

·     Be a better person

·     Protect myself

·     Rage and outrage

·     My knowing

·     My voice

·     Empathy for self

·     The Radical “No”

·     True self

·     Rest

·     Feelings of hurt/longing

·     Awareness of self

·     Wholeness of me in community

Let Go of the belief that:

·     Their response can kill me

·     Their God can kill me

·     Full-bodied expression of rage/outrage has the power to kill

·     Self-erasing is a neutral/safe action

·     I can change it all myself

·     I have to be all of myself without community

Surrender Into/Embrace:

·     Love and self-understanding is enough

·     Living my knowing

·     Risking death to live

·     Speaking/Living my Bald, Naked, Truth

·     Choosing to “play the game” or not

·     Community needs and values me

·     Being part of community

Unrestrained movement

Hope

Appreciation

Pride

Possibility

Compassion

Awe

We edged ourselves forward on our individual paths – despair met hope, shame and guilt met pride, helplessness met action, anger met compassion and fear met awe.  There was a coming home to a knowing, a certainty about what it requires of each of us in order to be able to create peace.  In the end, peace comes with innocence of mind, openness of heart, and an adventurous spirit.  Mind the Gap and Follow the Map.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

As a group, we have been meeting together for several years and over that time we have built trust in one another thus we can risk going deeper into our journeys.

Each time we meet we are reminded that we are each a work in progress as are those with whom we work.  It is stunning to uncover the myriad ways we give our power to the authority figures in our lives, i.e. the They/She/He’s who are the reflections of our earliest experiences of authority in our family, schools and communities.  The world is merely reflecting back to us the work yet to be done in the path to wholeness.  In understanding this we can have compassion for those with whom we work.

At the same time we are mirrors for each other in the group.  In our commitment to honestly look at ourselves, trust the process, and collectively hold the emotional space necessary for exploring deeply, we find we are not alone nor are we very different from one another.  We find our common ground.

In closing, we are all together on this spaceship called Mother Earth.  The mere fact of our humanness means that we each have experienced injuries in our mind, heart, spirit, psyche, and body.  We are no different from the people with whom we work; or those in Newtown, Connecticut, or Ferguson, Missouri; or those who live south of the border or across the oceans.  Peace is not something that happens “out there.”  It is first an “inside job” – growing peace with oneself.  Then it becomes a “grassroots job” of growing peace with one another.  If we cannot grow peace in our own backyards, how can we expect our leaders to create peace in the world?   The questions for all of us then are:  What false beliefs are we each willing to sacrifice?  What perspectives are we each willing to surrender into to grow peace with the self, with others, and within the larger world?

*Barbara Meyers was asked to write on our monthly consultation reflections of September, 2014.  Instead of using the word ‘hole’, she was inspired to use the word ‘gap’, which was validated by a phrase she would hear while traveling through Europe, “Mind the Gap.”  The gap is the space between a train platform and the actual train when boarding.  Thank you, Barbara for the wonderful analogy, including the visual of us forming the bridge, between platform and train, as we embark on an adventure!  Barbara’s website is www.rememberingourcommonground.com.

**THE WISDOM WAY is copyrighted by The Whole Point Institute, LLC (www.wholepoint.us and www.sanctuarynh.com).  A book entitled “Wake Up To Your (W)hole Life” by Alaya Chadwick offers a guide to those who would like to apply The WISDOM WAY Map to their own lives or to explore THE WISDOM WAY in greater depth.  It is available through Amazon.

 

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