Week 8 of a 10-Week Plan to Connect with Your Center of Wellbeing: The Captain charts the best course ahead
Life is a series of circumstances and choices.
We make some choices with other people, such who to hire and who to lay off at work or how to invest our hard-earned money for retirement. We benefit from the input of colleagues, family members and professional advisors, but they can also confuse us when they disagree or bombard us with too much information.
We make other choices by ourselves. For these decisions, we call on our inner team of experts — inner players who bring experience, knowledge, skills and emotional intelligence to our deliberations. Just as your external team delivers helpful perspective, this inner team can also be in conflict.
Whether we gather intel from voices around us or from voices within us, at some point we need an answer. This is where the inner Captain enters.
The Captain is Our Inner GPS and Our Moral Compass
Throughout these columns I’ve written about The Big Four – The Dreamer, The Thinker, The Lover and the Warrior. They’re the core characters on our inner team.
What do you do when all your inner players advocate for their own agenda? Which one do you heed?
Our Captain acts as our internal guidance system. It hears the mental chatter and contradictory advice inside our heads and charts the best course for us to take. The Captain also points us in a deeper, more fundamental direction: It calls us back to our center of wellbeing.
Following our Captain is like turning to Waze when the car is full of passengers who each think they know the right way to go. As any mapping app does, Waze gathers and processes data – the roads, the distance, the time. Waze is special because it crowd-sources the real-time traffic situation before it cranks out the best available route.
The Captain is our inner Waze.
The Captain Makes the Call
Imagine you’re giving a virtual presentation. You’re not entirely comfortable speaking to groups on Zoom and you slept poorly the night before. As you draw a blank on examples you prepared, your hands shake a little and the mental chatter grows louder:
“Skip to the end and wrap this up!”
“Take a deep breath and you’ll be fine.”
“You’re such an idiot. Stop talking and take questions.”
“Stay cool. You’re brilliant. They love you!”
The audience hears nothing of your inner turmoil. Our Captain hears it all: the commands, the encouragement, the critiques and the cheerleading — all of the inner speech that we create and then throw at ourselves.
Each of our inner advisors is certain it’s correct, but we can’t abide them all. Our Captain doesn’t add another opinion. It consolidates the most helpful bits across the board and incorporates the collective wisdom into a resolution.
The Captain Points Us Back to Our Center
The Captain is transformational because it takes our fragmentation — our hopes, our thoughts, our emotions and our actions — and shifts us into wholeness. Our lives are richer because at the center of all that is our essence, our basic goodness, the humanity that makes us who we are.
The Captain quiets the inner cacophony into a state of coherence. Our Captain isn’t the sum total of our Big Four. It’s the meeting place where our inner parts synchronize and integrate.
Philosophical and spiritual traditions speak of different states of mind — what we might call small-mindedness and big-mindedness.
The Big Four have narrow interests and a limited outlook: small-minded.
The Captain is transformative because it moves us to an expansive outlook and a benevolent and generous perspective: big-minded.
From this view, life is about more than our individual satisfaction or success. We’re part of the larger human story. We care about the common good.
We get caught up in a mental tug-of-war when one side of us says “go left” and another says “go right.” That’s when we need our Captain, our inner guidance system that transcends our distinct parts and navigates us to the wisdom of our center of well-being.
In the “Winning From Within” system, the Transformers shift the ground we stand on: our sources of meaning, our inherent connection with each other, and the purpose of our lives.
Next week we’ll turn to the last Transformer, the Voyager.
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