I am always overwhelmed with the response to The Journeyman Life and love to hear how the story of my journey is influencing your journeys. Here is a recent review of The Journeyman Life from Amazon.com:
On occasion, I will be posting thought related to our Journeys to find a life well lived on Psychology Today.
Recently, a CEO client of my coaching practice shared with me a long-lasting, deeply challenging relationship issue that he was having with an important colleague and friend in his organization. He shared how angry he was with the situation and the person. It had been going on for years, and there seemed to be no end in sight. More recently, the person who is his challenge shared some of his latest negative feelings with the CEO, and this sent my client into a “tailspin.” Almost all of his comments were about the other person noting things that he had done, or said, all of which seemed unfair, one-sided, and insensitive to the CEO’s feelings and needs.
Making a difficult situation all about the other person often is the default mode we take as we are very motivated to preserve our ego at the expense of others. While this seems logical to the ego, it usually does not yield the result we are after—that is, solving the issues, preserving the relationship, and growing our ability to live life in a positive, healthy, and resilient fashion.
Research supported by the National Institute of Mental Health and the American Psychological Association in a study by Barbara L. Fredrickson indicates that “ego-resiliency” is highly correlated with positive emotionality across numerous studies. Our ability to navigate challenges in relating decision-making or differences of opinion is strongly related to our internal state—that is, as the title of this post suggests, “looking inside ourselves” versus only and always looking outside to attribute blame and seeking to change the other person, not ourselves.
When would you benefit from slowing down to look inside yourself in a challenging situation? Experience and common wisdom inform us that when we first have an uncomfortable feeling about a situation or person, that is a time to slow down our outer critique and perhaps look inside for perspective. Slowing down means not sending that email or not making that angry, rehearsed phone call. It means getting quiet, perhaps journaling about the situation from both your side and the other person’s side. Another idea might be to talk with another person who can be objective with you and help you to be personally responsible as well in this situation.
The next question might be, “Where do we look?” for this ego resiliency and positive perspective. The answer is in the inner landscape of our inner self. You might ask, “Where is that?”; “What is it?”; and “How do I access it?” It is available to you if you summon it with an open heart and mind and leave your ego at the entrance to this area of your inner self. We do this by asking questions of ourself, digging deeply into the feelings that are being surfaced by the situation, to begin to translate what the inner voices of your reactive mind are whispering in your ear to keep your ego on track.
Usually, when we go to this place, we can access feelings that are very common feelings in our inner landscape that are ultimately related to our core image and issues from many significant personal building experiences and lessons of our life, many of which are from early years of our lives in relating to significant others. In the example of the CEO, when I coached him through this situation, he realized that his antagonist represented a core issue in himself that was related to his need to be perfect and control situations and decisions. This was learned as a coping mechanism to keep his ego intact and to feel safe. He was being triggered by this person, and his most reactive tendencies were taking the seat in the first row of this short play.
Why do we benefit from looking inside? We benefit from looking inside because only the symptoms are represented by the outside world and our relationships. Without looking on the inside, we are firmly entrenched in a doom loop that will keep getting the same result. By looking inside at ourselves, we can transform our relationships and transform our ability to solve problems at a higher and more creative level.
One of the ways to think about this dynamic is to consider the many various stimuli that come across our life screen over the course of any day or week. Some of these stimuli threaten our ego and our resilience because they tap into this inner core challenge that we have set up in our lives. When we can put a space or pause between that stimulus and our response patterning, we can choose different ways of reacting that are more based on our values and take into account more of the other person’s point of view and also understand the triggers that are being activated in our own bodies.
The following triangle is helpful in understanding the different forces at play in any given situation and how we can navigate them more effectively.
At the very top of the triangle, we can put the actions that we take; we might even call them habits if we take those same actions most of the time. Just below that top line, we might write the word “thoughts,” which actually are a representation of how we see the situation, and how we see the situation is based on our own unique perspective or paradigm, which is not necessarily accurate, but as seen through a prism that has been carefully constructed over the years and experiences of our lives. At the last level, at the very foundation of the triangle, we might put the word “tendencies” or these psychological beliefs or core issues that are operating in our particular lives. These represent the unique manner in which we have chosen to keep our ego intact and the day-to-day occurrences of our life.
Looking inside of ourselves to help to solve problems allows us to better understand our own personal responsibility for the issues that are being presented to us. It allows us to be more objective about the other person, to have more compassion for them and more empathy for their situation. In doing this, we raise the probability that we can maintain a positive point of view and achieve a level of resiliency.
The next time that you experience a challenging situation and have feelings that come up that seemed to be anger or frustration, take a pause, look inside, and ask yourself some of the questions that I asked in this post. Hopefully, as you do that, you’ll gain a greater perspective on the situation yourself and the other person and will make better choices about how to solve the problems and how to improve the relationship between you and this other person in your life.
On occasion, I will be posting thought related to our Journeys to find a life well lived on Psychology Today.
Learning about the stages of adult development has given me great perspective on knowing myself and what actions I need to take to improve and get to the next level. I’m hoping you will find this research useful as well.
Dr. Robert Kegan, a Harvard psychologist, has been the preeminent researcher in this field. His thesis holds that developing as an adult is not about learning new things or adding things to the container of the mind. It is about personal transformation, changing the manner in which we know and view the world. Instead of changing the contents of the mind, it is akin to changing the actual container.
That transformation is metaphorically a Copernican shift, realizing that the Earth is—or you are—not at the center of our solar system, but the sun is at the center. When we realize this, nothing really changes, but rather our entire conception and perception of the world transforms.
We experience this often in life. I remember moving back to a town I’d lived in earlier in life and found the people to be so much more friendly. But I was the one who had changed! Only through transformation can we truly move from one stage of human development to a higher stage.
Most of the time, we are in transition between stages, and we behave a bit differently with different people in our lives. The goal is to know where we are, what behavior looks like at that stage, where it comes from, and how it is serving us and others—the impact. When we know those elements, and we have motivation, clarity, and focus, we can deliberately work to change ourselves at the belief, thought, and feeling levels.
Tony joined Julie Kennedy on her podcast Fabulous After Fifty to discuss the Journey of the Modern Man.
“I believe our world would be a lot more harmonious if men and women understood each other better, so let’s listen, for our boyfriends and husbands, our fathers and sons, our nephews and grandsons and better understand men’s journey too in order to establish a more harmonious world. It certainly broadened my horizon!” – Julie Kennedy
Listen here, or on your favorite podcast player.
Tony joins The New Masculine Podcast and host, Travis Stock, to discuss The Journeyman Life, attachment wounds, and reaching the doorstep of change.
On this episode, Travis talks with organizational psychologist, researcher, coach, and expert in leadership development, Tony Daloisio, Ph.D. And while his professional credits are important, Tony brings with him a deep level of vulnerability as he shares his story of childhood trauma and his path toward healing those early attachment wounds. He offers that story as the foundation of his new book, The Journeyman Life: The Not So Perfect Path to a Life Well Lived. In the book, he invites men to the doorstep of change and offers a path through to a better relationship with self and others. Topics discussed include: Attachment patterns – relational imprints and blueprints from childhood, highly sensitive men, anger, emotional acuity, getting ahead of our activation, meditation, and adult stages of development.
On occasion, I will be posting thought related to our Journeys to find a life well lived on Psychology Today.
Our stories, and the challenges we experience in our lives, seem so unique to us, yet in reality, these challenges and the resultant “pings” on our mental wellness can have both short-term and longer-lasting impacts. No matter what our station in life or the stage of our journey, there are five important “lands” that we can visit to ensure that our journey to mental wellness is both effective and lasting.
1. The Land of Stories
Start with a meaningful scan of your inner and outer life. Ask and answer the question, “How am I really showing up?” in both your relational world with others and your inner world of emotions and self-talk. What are the microscopic truths of your life, the impacts on others, and the perceived obstacles you continually encounter? Most importantly, how do you discover these traps and identify them as such? One way is to ask some folks you trust for their feedback and explore this with them.
One of the tools that I use with my clients is to ask them to write three stories about themselves. The first is called the “persona story.” This story describes how you hope to be perceived in the outer world. This story would answer the questions “Who are you?” and “Do you do what’s important to you?” The interesting thing about these questions is that the answers emanate from your ego. This may not be an accurate representation of who you show up as, but it is what you hope to be putting out into the world.
The second story is called “the inner story.” The inner story is the self-talk that exists in the private chambers of your mind about who you are and the life you lead. The third story is “the story of possibility.” This story represents your vision, your values, and the hopes and dreams you have for your life. It is, in a sense, the resolution of the first two stories.
2. The Land of Questions
The second land that we can visit in our journey to improved wellness answers some all-important questions: “Why would I want to improve my wellness?”; “How do I want to show up in the world?”; “What are some goals that I have for myself?”; and “What’s at stake for myself in making these changes?” These questions parrot an important relationship between the first land and the second land. It lies in the intersection of the two that we can hold our vision of the life that we hope for and intersect it with the reality of what our current life looks like. The gap between the two becomes an important propellant for change. If that propellant is strong enough, has enough of a sense of urgency to it, and you can create enough focus, then the opportunity exists that you can actually make the changes you hope for in service of your wellness.
3. The Land of Origins
The third land represents the origins of the repeating patterns of behavior that have an impact on our wellness. When we can look deeply at our core beliefs or the recurring triggers of negative behaviors in our life and the core causality of those factors, we can begin to change ourselves from the inside out. Examining the root cause of ongoing challenging behavior patterns allows us to create change in ourselves that is lasting and meaningful for our wellness.
4. The Land of Learning
The fourth dimension in our journey to optimize our wellness is that of identifying and considering skill upgrades in our life. We can’t expect to change or become better if we continue the same behaviors or mindsets that got us where we are now.
Learning new skills sets the table for behavior change in a positive manner. There are inner skills that we can acquire, like self-reflection through journaling, and there are outer skills that we can develop, like better listening. Identification and development of new skills to support our overall wellness is critical to its optimization.
5. The Land of Lasting Change
The fifth area we will visit is called “Land and Expand.” Here, we attempt the most difficult move of all in the optimization game: “sticking the landing!” Sticking with and finally achieving our goals is the most difficult of all accomplishments in the wellness arena.
How do we stick our landings? There are several things that research shows us need to be present. The first and most important is a sense of urgency about changing. Along with urgency, we need a strict focus, that is, knowing exactly what is needed. Lastly, all of the positive change we bring to our wellness is for nothing if we cannot measure success, get feedback on our progress, and celebrate our wins.
The last action that you can take, which is often overlooked, is to teach others what you are learning. I call this the “T3 Model,” where you are the learner while someone teaches you, and then you, in turn, teach someone else, giving them the benefits of your newly acquired skills. This approach goes a long way to solidify your commitment to the value of the change and your steadfastness to stay with your plan and goals.
In conclusion, having a process like the Five Lands to visit on your journey to optimal mental wellness is critical to your ultimate success, and your travels to those lands can be exciting and rewarding. The prize is expanded mental wellness and all of the gifts that accompany this awesome state of mind.
Tony recently joined Tim Clark of Leader Factor to talk about personal and professional change.
About This Episode (from Culture by Design)
Why is change so difficult to maintain? How can exploring beyond quantitative data improve problem solving? This week Tony Daloisio, author of The Journeyman Life, joins Timothy R. Clark to discuss the recipe for lasting change and the possibilities of influence and intuition in leadership and business thinking. Here are some gems from the episode:
Bringing Yourself to the Doorstep of Change (11:28)
We only have two choices: will we change or will we change our belief about needing to change? Change requires conscious internal awareness and a willingness to reach the precipice of decision with the determination to do things differently.
The Two Parts of a Rocket: Overcoming Gravity and Sustaining Change (16:57)
People are like rockets. Most spend their time trying to muster up enough determination to bust through gravity, which requires a sense of urgency and focus that is created through crucible experiences. While urgency is a catalyst, it is seldom a sustainer. Sustaining change isn’t as “sexy” as sowing the seeds of change, but a cadence of accountability and outside support will help us maintain momentum.
A Leader Has Scalable Influence (24:43)
Until a leader changes, nothing else can change. We cannot lead other people at a higher level than we are leading ourselves. Each of us, whether part of a team or not, has a brilliance side and a shadow side. Ignorance of this shadow side will cause our business culture to mirror our shadows instead of our brilliance.
An Intuitive Approach to Possibility (33:11)
There is a difference between advocacy decision making and inquiry decision making. Do we engage in problem solving with a determination to prove the validity of our preconceived notions? Or do we engage in exploration of the problem, relying on the contributions of others? Are we willing to hold our opinions lightly?
It’s always gratifying as an author to see your content resonating with, connecting with, and creating positive change for their readers. The Journeyman Life is more than just my story, or a theoretical perspective on how to change your mindset; it is a map and a guide that attempts to demystify the underlying method of behavior change, illustrated with personal examples, and broken down into tactical steps that feel achievable and impactful.
If you are looking for some assistance and inspiration on your Journey, you can start with The Journeyman Life book, available at Amazon, or explore joining an upcoming Journeyman Life Mens’ Group facilitated by me to explore the Journey we all travel together with a group of likeminded individuals.
Our stories, and the challenges we experience in our lives, seem both unique and unsolvable to us in our isolated and sometimes “walled off” world. In reality, these challenges are all too common to most people. More importantly, the path to changing the trajectory of that story to a positive experience, both within ourselves and in our relationships with others, is imminently available. To accomplish this requires a bit of introspection and the building of skills necessary to take action on what you discover in the crafting of those stories.
The starting point to that critical journey is “you”; your openness to consider change, cultivation of a growth mindset, willingness to expand and open your self-awareness, and finally, the ultimate discipline and accountability that you commit to for those choices. I believe there are three distinctly different stories we have about ourselves. The first is the “persona story,” the story you tell others about who you are. The second is the “hidden self story,” the story you tell yourself in the private chambers of your inner mind, heart, and soul. The third story is the “story of possibility,” the true vision you have of your life in accordance with your most sacred and true values.
Your Personal Story
The first story is the story of how you hope to be seen in the world. Most of us spend our lifetime crafting and cultivating our persona. It is likely composed of a view of our personality that is aspirational, positive, self-oriented, and perhaps more forgiving of our weaknesses. Self-preservation is a very strong drive that guides our behavior and our view of ourselves. We are probably quite invested in our persona and likely quite defensive about it as well. It’s OK for you to poke holes in it, but it’s not OK for others to do so.
As I write this, I notice that who I am and who I want to be in the outer world are at odds to some extent. The persona I project is one of a strong, confident, independent, thoughtful, and kind person. I’m a bit guarded for sure, but because of my education and training as a psychologist, I like to have deep conversations with folks, to ask provocative questions, and to be transparent about my own awareness and distinctions about life and relationships. I enjoy that process and connection. I believe that I want to be seen as someone with depth and of substance, as this has been a drive of mine for as long as I can recall, largely in response to a core negative belief I have in my inner story concerning my own self-image. Often the core issue that we struggle with in our life story is a main character in our persona that strives to compensate for the challenge we see in ourselves.
To help you discover more about your persona or first story, here are a few things you can do:
- Question and explore your motivation in taking actions or making decisions, and dig a bit deeper into your feelings and true motivations.
- Ask others how they see you. If you are lucky, someone who cares a great deal for you will share the truth lovingly, and you will benefit greatly. My brother-in-law, Rex, did that for me many years ago. While I was surprised at what he said, it made perfect sense given what I know about my persona.
- Ask what is important to you inside yourself and also as relates to how others see you. An example for me is that I want to be seen as competent and professional and having my stuff together. I like that I am a psychologist and get to help others with their problems; it kind of gets me off the hook in dealing with my own challenges.
- Begin to explore deeper the real you, your wants, needs, hopes, and what is truly important to you.
The Hidden Self
The second story we tell about ourselves or could tell is that of the hidden self, the private self. This represents the inner drives, motives, aspirations, fears, beliefs, and internal image of yourself. It would be like if you pulled back the curtain, like in The Wizard of Oz, and we finally got to see the true nature of the all-powerful wizard. We see his real story, his emotions, fears, and ways of coping with the world.
For me, looking inside at this part of myself for that story has been difficult and scary. I have worked very hard to create the outer façade of myself—having it all together and being a leader and helper of others. In a way, this has shielded me from having to deal with my own core negative beliefs, and it reinforces my ego-oriented persona story. Questions to ask to uncover the hidden story of self include these:
- What consumes your thinking, what do you obsess about, and what do you fear and work hard to overcome?
- What are the core issues that have traveled the world and the years of your life with you, like an uninvited guest that keeps showing up in your life?
- What feelings are you hiding from others about yourself?
- What might happen if your true inner self were uncovered and shared with your loved ones, friends, and professional associates?
The Unknown Self
The third story is the story of the undiscovered you, perhaps the aspirational you, the possible you. This story is unknown to you and others and is perhaps the most important story and the most exciting one. This story is likely the resolution of the first two stories. It is the one that can change your life’s trajectory.
For me, as I sat with myself in deliberation and preparation for writing this post, exploring my third story, I had to determine if I would take on this vision of my potential life or settle for the safer ground of story one while keeping story two hidden as much as possible. I have decided to go for it, but I waiver often, and I believe that is the nature of the third story. All we can do is bring it to awareness and begin to live into it and share it with others in a courageous and honest manner. Even with this perspective and motivation, I still find myself with one foot in story one and often stuck in story two, but the three stories create a pathway for me to travel and explore, learn about, and even live. Why not try to write these three stories for yourself and see where it takes your thinking and decision-making?
In conclusion, the real purpose of the three stories is to step back from your day-to-day life, take an honest look at yourself, and determine what story is driving your life and whether you want to change it.
As I explain in my book, The Journeyman Life: The Not-So-Perfect Path to a Life Well Lived, meaningful change begins with the stark reality and ownership of how we are living our inner and outer lives. That, along with the creation and commitment to a set of core life values, mission, and daily practices, is the key to our journey to a well-lived life.
Following are the key takeaways and actions that will allow you to move on this pathway:
- Explore in journal format your three stories and share them with a friend or intimate partner. Ask for feedback, then expand and refine your stories.
- Deepen the exploration of your inner life and private story by further understanding your core beliefs and operating system. What are the voices or beliefs that are holding you back that are fearful and also aggressive to others?
- Refine the vision, mission, and values for the life you wish to live; the life that is possible with this awareness and choice available to you.
- Commit to a set of goals and the development of new skills to allow this change to take place both inside and outside you.
- Build a network of support to help you in this process.
Joseph Campbell, in his book, The Hero’s Journey, discusses this process when he challenges all men to “Explore the inner reaches of your outer space.” The journey that you find yourself on is your unique story and the possibilities are boundless.
Tony Daloisio joined noted podcaster Dave Pamah on The Dave Pamah Show to share his journey and visit some of the key foundational principles of The Journeyman Life; the Not-So-Perfect Path to a Life Well Lived.