Integration — Complementary Skills for Healthy Change

This blog is one of a three-part series on the health impacts of integration (wholeness) in our self-esteem, relationships and ability to enact meaningful change in our lives.

Each of us is the next step in evolution along the lineage
created by our two parents. Our higher purpose on earth
can be found by recognizing what our parents accom-
plished and where they left off.  By reconciling what they
gave us with what they left us to resolve, we can get a
clear picture of who we are and what we are meant to
do
[be].    James Redfield

Since my first reading of this quote, I have come to see human evolution as a continuous change process with each step along the evolutionary ladder marked by what I refer to as a generational pattern. When looking back to my parents, born in 1919 and 1923, the generational pattern of their era was world war. In fact, their parents’ lineage was also world war. One could say that the dominant archetype of that day was the Warrior. Significantly, both warring generations left us — Baby Boomers — to resolve the challenge of whether peace is possible, regardless of whether it is between nations or between parents and children.

Some 40 years later, youthful attempts to bring peace to the forefront witnessed the first emergence of a generation gap where differences in beliefs, politics and values created a separation between parents and younger people. We see evidence of a similar generation gap currently in existence between these same Baby Boomers and the technology-savvy Millennials.

Although the generations of my lifetime gained ground in establishing more peaceful relations, global and familial, it is safe to say we still have considerable change to master before we can claim world peace. So, if we truly are the sum total of our ancestors’ expressions, then what is our current challenge and whom are we expressing relative to a generational archetype?

There is no doubt that peace, external and internal, is still top of mind. But I sense, as a human race, we are digging deeper into understanding the source of peaceful co-existence — collaboration and co-creation. Fortunately, technological change has also connected us into a global digital village where we can more easily co-create the future we desire.

Although some would continue to create walls and fences to separate, many more recognize the importance of coming together to resolve the “wicked” challenges currently confronting everyone. IMHO, we are challenged, as a global collective, as well as within our familial relationships, with growing our capacity to collaborate in co-creative experiences. Only then can we integrate the many forms of existing knowledge into an abiding wisdom.

Furthermore, it appears to me that the archetype we are currently expressing in our human evolution is the Integrator, the inter-mixer of all archetypes into a cohesive whole —Magician, Priest, Hermit, Warrior, Teacher, Philosopher, Alchemist (Transformer). Our work is to change fragmented relationships and experiences into healthy, holistic expressions that are an integration of complementary patterns. Arguably, strengthening your capability to continually change and grow has never been so important.

In the table below, the dimensions of change (centre column) reflect our often competing desires for order and freedom. Review the change capacities below and circle the patterns you are conscious of in yourself as well as those you suspect may be more visible to others than they are to you. Circle one pattern that most reflects you from the order column and one from the freedom column. When you are finished, you should have two circled patterns for each dimension.

Adapted from Jay Earley, PhD

Order and freedom are complementary capacities (Both/And), which is why you chose two patterns for each dimension. The integration of these complementary skills is what enables healthy meaningful change. Notice where most of your circles occurred — in the more conscious columns closest to the dimension (middle green) OR in the less conscious columns farthest from the dimension (lightest green).

Note your change strengths as reflected by what you circled in the inner two columns. If it helps your understanding, rank your healthiest change patterns on a piece of paper using words that most accurately represent you today.

The outer two columns reflect less healthy response patterns and are likely where one’s awareness is challenged by an inner desire to not act in those ways. Rather than avoid considering these outer limits entirely, ask yourself:

  1. Within what events or experiences am I currently responding from an
    unhealthy place?
  2. How would I like to respond instead?
  3. How can I use my existing pattern or grow new complementary strength(s) that will eliminate my unhealthy patterns?
    (i.e., If you circled “rigid” or “distracted,” what one step can you take to bring about greater clarity and/or creativity?

Integration or wholeness necessitates enacting an intimate relationship with our entire being — SPICE — Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Communal/social, Emotional. In which of these areas are you self-aware and skillful? In which areas are you unconscious and unskilled?

For more on building wholeness with SPICE, click here.

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