Have you heard of a Psycho- synthesis? It was conceived by a Dr Roberto Assagioli in 1911. Assagioli was a student of Freud who rebelled against Freud’s ’limited’ vision of man—suggesting that we possess a higher nature and asserting that much of the psychological dysfunction in the world stems from frustration or even desperation about the lack of meaning and purpose in our lives. A psychosynthesis-viewpoint invites you search for meaning, to look at life as a developmental journey, to see the creative potential within each problem, to see obstacles as stepping stones and to imagine that we all have a purpose in life with challenges and obstacles to overcome in order to fulfil that purpose.
To demonstrate the point, I’ve collated and adapted this information from John Whitmore’s third edition of Coaching for Performance together with these two-dimensional graphical models which give a helpful visual of how or why, we experience this crises of meaning;
The horizontal axis represents material success and psychological integration and the vertical axis represents spiritual, value or aspirational unfolding:
An individual journeying on the horizontal axis may be focused on personal achievement and success in the material world and may have become a well-integrated person, a good parent and a respected member of society, without ever having asked themselves a meaningful question about life.
More mystical types might lead a contemplative, monastic and ascetic life. They may be ill-equipped to cope with the realities and essentials of the every day world. These people focus on journeying up the vertical axis.
The further we progress along either path to the exclusion of the other, the more we depart from the ideal or balanced path between the two and the tension increases.
If social pressure, business imperatives or blind determination override this tension that is attempting to pull us back on track, we are liable to be stopped by hitting a wake-up wall. This is known as the crises of meaning.
When we hit the crisis wall, we tend to bounce back in shock and into temporary confusion and performance regression for a while, but we are at the same time pulled upwards toward the ideal eventually to discover a more balanced path.
Have you experienced this crises of meaning? I certainly have. I learned that Coaching through purpose and meaning are an important means to regain the balance. Please share your story and thoughts…..
Michelle Clarke is an Executive Coach based in Cape Town. She works locally and internationally with Leaders, Executives and Executive Coaches, helping them to navigate the complexity of 21st century leadership. To learn more about her work please visit her website www.motivcoach.com, and be sure also to subscribe to this blog for future updates. If you enjoy Facebook, please join Michelle’s Business Page
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