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Is this overkill?



The Whole Person Blog: Week Five, Day Four, Part 2/2 - Is this overkill?

Writings inspired by Fr. Richard Rohr: Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps

Video presentation based on the book

Daily Meditations written by Richard Rohr on 12-Step Spirituality

Breathing Under Water online course

Wednesday, January 29nd, 2020


Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.


"I must admit when I first read Step 10; I wanted to say, "OK, come now, let's get on to something a bit more positive and evolved. This is beginning to feel like an endless examination of conscience, and will keep people navel-gazing forever." I still recognize that as a danger for some. I come from a religious life practice where we learned from the Jesuits about a daily and personal "examination of conscience," which certainly had some wise intent and worked for some. But I found people with a mature conscience did that naturally anyway, and some way too much. Now many of the Jesuits recommend instead an "examination of consciousness," which to me feels much more fruitful."


I couldn't agree more with Richard; the repetition started to feel as if it was dragging out the process and limiting transcendence. I'd phrase this as we're stuck managing "lower-left" instead of "upper-right" conversations. This vernacular refers to the Experience Wheel I use to help people understand WHY they're doing WHAT they're doing so they can shift from a self-relationship of criticism to compassion. Imagine four spokes on a wheel starting at nine o'clock.


WHAT: "Lower-left"

9: Unwanted Symptoms

6: Protective Behaviors

WHY: "Upper-right"

3: Limiting Beliefs

12: Painful Experiences


This model kicks off with identifying the Unwanted Symptoms (challenges) someone is facing, as well as, the Protective Behaviors they're participating in that are causing them. Most conversations do not evolve beyond the lower-left observation of Symptoms and Behaviors. When that happens, one is only left to criticize WHAT they're doing, instead of progressing their introspection to WHY they are doing it, initiating compassion, and subsequently, healing and transformation. WHY we do WHAT we do is far more important than WHAT we do! In Richard's words, this is a shift in focus from conscience (WHAT did I do) to consciousness (WHY did I do it).


As curiosity guides us around the upper-right aspect of the Wheel, we begin exploring the Limiting Beliefs that drive our Protective Behaviors, and the Painful Experiences that form our Limiting Beliefs. This WHY discussion elevates one's level of consciousness, which improves awareness of and accountability to their situation, further positioning them to take empowered action, and maintaining agency within and ownership throughout their journey. Increased levels of consciousness lead to paradigm shifts and, eventually, a foundational change in behavior. As I always say, new seeing leads to new ways of being.


"Loving people are always highly conscious people." Richard Rohr


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