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transcendence

Episcopal priest Rev. Ed Bacon* recently posted a short poem by Kim Rosen titled “In Impossible Darkness.” It caught both my attention and imagination.  Here it is:

In Impossible Darkness

Do you know how

the caterpillar

turns?

Do you remember

what happens

inside a cocoon?

You liquefy.

There in the thick black

of your self-spun womb,

void as the moon before waxing,

you melt

(as Christ did

for three days 
in the tomb)

conceiving

in impossible darkness

the sheer 
inevitability

of wings.

—Kim Rosen

I am sure that this has great meaning for many Christian Believers. But I see meaning and importance far beyond its seasonal Christian treatment. I see profound “spiritual” and psychological implication as well. So in the echoes of Passover, Easter and blossoms of springtime, allow me to muse out-loud. You see, to me this is a poem about change, about transcendence.

Change is seldom easy. You almost always have to “liquefy.”  What does liquefy mean (to me)? It means you have to come apart, dis-integrate, change your current form and then re-organize into something different (and if to have any true importance), something better.  The butterfly has its entire original DNA; it is just reorganized. The butterfly-you and the butterfly-me are the same essential person but our function and capacity are altered. We have wings now—wings that give us freedom and mobility. Unlike a creeping caterpillar bound by the weight of its encumbered life, we can now fly.

The change is seldom instantaneous, there is almost always a “tomb” experience—an experience that is set-apart, and to some degree tumultuous. An experience that is identifiable, if by no other distinction than by its ridiculous disturbance to what we are use to. It could be as simple as a bad-hair day (like one that I had last week) or a more catastrophic event like a divorce or the death of a loved one (like the recent passing of my dear brother-in-law).  In my book, I refer to this as the Land of Oz. The Land of Oz is a passageway, an uncharted pit stop where we go to liquefy and change into something more true to our best selves. It is where we fire our fraudulent Wizards; it is where we face our inner Witches (see my blog on Pain Body) and they melt; and, the place where we develop Lion-power, Tin Man-love and Scarecrow-mindfulness.

I once heard of an African-American preacher who gave a sermon for Good Friday (the day that many Christians honor the death of Jesus). The sermon was profound yet elegantly simple. Here is the sermon in its entirety:

It’s Friday . . . but Sunday** is coming.

He just kept repeating that phrase over and over again with increasing crescendo and varying punctuation.

So for those of us going through a tomb experience, who are “liquefied in the darkness;” for those of us who are in the throes of an “Oz” experience, confused and disoriented—take hope. When we go through these experiences with grace (profound love for ourselves) and truth (with full consciousness), there are wings waiting inevitably for us. Please note: this not cute sentimentality; this is good psychology. This is neurology at its best. The change is real. This is how we become more emotionally intelligent. This is how we become our best butterfly selves.

 

P.S. For those of you who are waiting for Part 2 of my blog on Eckhart Tolle’s Pain Body, it is coming soon.

 

______________________

[*] The Reverend Ed Bacon is the Rector of All Saints Church in Pasadena and a frequent guest on the Oprah Winfrey Network’s Super Soul Sunday. He is the author of 8 Habits of Love: Open Your Heart, Open Your Mind (2012, 2013).

[**] Sunday refers to Easter Sunday, which is when traditional Christians believe that Jesus rose alive from the tomb.

HonoringDifferencesI just finished facilitating a workshop for a consulting firm on the topic of “Honoring Differences & Emotional Intelligence.” All the participants took the ITI– Interpersonal Triangle Inventory, which is an inventory that I developed based on the Interpersonal Triangle model that I introduced in my previous post (See “Emotional Intelligence (EI) in Three-D: Scarecrow, Tin Man & Lion.”)  Based on their scores they were sorted into one of four relationship styles represented by the following colors (the first three are sorted into the three primary colors thus representing the three primary ways we relationally move or connect; the fourth is a hybrid):

  • Red: Moving Against—Lion. These types of relators tend to be more aggressive, directive, take-charge, determined, quick to make decisions, and are opinionated.
  • Blue: Moving Toward—Tin Man. These types of relators tend to be people oriented, empathic, supportive and caring, willing to defer to the needs of others.
  • Yellow: Moving Away—Scarecrows. These types of relators are more measured and careful, want to be accurate and true to the facts.
  • Purple (Blends of Red Lion & Blue Tin Man). People in this hybrid are enthusiastic and readily engage and influence others. They like liking and like being liked. I have a Purple relationship style in most of my relationships.

I’d like to share with you what we learned through the workshop experience (in no particular order):

  • People have different relationship styles. Some are more quick and determined (like the Red Lions) others are people centered (like the Blue Tin Man) and others are more careful and precise (like Yellow Scarecrow). Then there are Purple people like me who want to engage and influence others. One style is not necessarily better than the others all the time (even thought I would follow a Red in an emergency, a Yellow when I want objective facts and a Blue when I want to be understood).
  • Each style has its positive or negative expressions. Each style, in its positive expression, can enhance communication and bring about positive outcomes. However in its negative manifestation, each style can break down communication and be destructive. Often the negative expressions are directly related to their positive expression. Elias Porter—the person who developed the SDI (the Strength Deployment Inventory)—suggested that our weaknesses are nothing more than overdone strengths. Think about it. A quick Red response overdone makes them rushed or impetuous. A Blue’s deference to others can easily become a form of self-denial; and a Yellow’s carefulness is only a couple clicks away from being overly cautious and hesitant.
  • We have different styles in different situations. For example, my relationship style is different at home than when I am speaking or consulting. At home I am more Orange (Red and Yellow) and at work I am more Purple (Red and Blue). And when I get around Red alphas, I have to fight the temptation to become overly Blue (submissive). Different settings and interactions with different people often bring out different elements of how we interact. A person at work might be one way with a boss (e.g. Blue) and then another way with a subordinate (e.g. Red). I am always amused by CEOs who run large organizations who, when they come home, become totally subservient to their spouse.
  • If we don’t honor differences in someone else, we will end up reacting to them. Evolution formed a brain that is suspicious, if not hostile, to those who differ from us. If we don’t leverage our differences for good we will likely get entangled in some sort of estrangement. I worked with a board of directors who had a good number of Red relators. They looked down on the “weaker” Blue relaters seeing them as “soft” simply because they were not as decisive and opinionated as they were. It was unfortunate that the Reds did not honor their Blue brethren because they did not take advantage of their sympathy for client relations and their ability to collaborate. This can happen at home as well. We can write off our “quiet” (Yellow) spouse as disinterested rather than slow and thoughtful. And we’ve all heard of the rough and tough father who reacts to his “weaker” (artistic) son not realizing what a precious gift the son brings to the world.

I’d love to hear back from you: What relationship style do you tend toward  . . .  at home? Are you more Red, more Blue or more Yellow (or like me, a hybrid)? Is your relationship style different at work? If so, how?  Do you ever “overdo” one of these relational styles to a fault? (If you are not sure, ask your spouse, children, or your employees.) Do you ever find yourself reacting to your partner for having a different relational style than yourself?  Please share your experience with us.

Ultimately, be yourself, accept who you are and be positive in your difference. And remember, emotional intelligence is intelligence you can live with.