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  • Stephen Scott Johnson

Agility – discovering presence and purpose beyond crisis

It seems surreal that only 10 weeks ago we were going about our lives and routines, largely desensitised to the gravity of coronavirus and what was heading our way. To put it mildly, there’s nothing like a pandemic to thrust people into existential crisis.

In times like these we become acutely aware of identity beliefs and behavioural ‘blind spots’ that undermine us – the ‘inner structure’ and patterns of engaging that synthesise as our lived experience, and ultimately, how we show up. Like yin and yang, positive traits that portray us as good, vital, purposeful, even worthy of love and acceptance, are sometimes rooted in a darker ‘flipside’ and suffering that manifests as superficial relationships and lack of true intimacy.

It’s likely you know a perpetually optimistic or annoyingly positive ‘someone’ – the person who is always ‘on’ and ‘up’ in the face of adversity, yet whose behaviour borders on denial of reality. Another scenario is people who play subservient and compliant roles in peer and significant relationships, which can mask low self-esteem and fear of inadequacy. Closer to home, there’s obsessive compulsive, fastidiously ordered and controlling behaviour, which can indicate a fear of being controlled and of losing autonomy. There’s no judgment in any of this, only awareness. If anything, it’s the flipside of our traits that reminds us that we are human.

Now that we have more time in Iso to be with ourselves it’s likely these traits will show up. What’s going on within you at a deeper level? What patterns, either positive or negative, are you aware of?

In his book Stop Missing Your Life: The Power of Being Present – To Grow, Change and Find Happiness, Cory Muscara describes the act of ‘embracing yourself as you are’ as the most radical catalyst for positive change and growth. He suggests that we each have a lifetime of experiences that have taught us who we ‘need’ to be so as to be loved, accepted, and safe – experiences that have taught us that perhaps being in the present moment is too intense and that it’s better to actually not be there. Well, there’s no escaping this present moment, at least not in the near term. And it’s got me thinking deeply about how we show up daily in life, and who we become when our usual opt-ins and choices for being and relating dissolve in forced reckoning with self, as we ‘face-off’ with our fear, anger, and shame.

Growth and healing begin when we stop bullsh!tting ourselves. It’s time to look in the mirror and ask, “What do you really want?”

We are moving towards another sociological tipping point, one that demands even greater context and meaning. The ripple effects of this pandemic will likely be felt for years to come, the difference is, for the first time in our history we get to write the future together – to devise a new, simpler, less ego-centric operating system for life that is soulful, productive, and fulfilling, where talents can blossom and individual calling and connection with purpose can be honoured. For many, the idea of showing up authentically to make meaning and flourish interdependently, without judgement, carries equal measure of terror and inspiration. The real question is: will you allow yourself to be seen?

The gift of presence is simultaneously an invitation to learn and evolve through challenge and to be part of a collective identity and future worth living into.

I will leave you with three questions to consider:

1. When you’re at your best who are you and what are you doing?

2. Do you have a clear sense of purpose and meaning?

3. What do you need to stop or start to realise questions #1 and #2?

Until next time.


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