April 6, 2021

The Mindset Of Wholeness Is Not Static - Here's Why

The Mindset Of Wholeness Is Not Static - Here's Why

The World Health Organization defines health as "A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."  

Wholeness, on the other hand, is a concept that has many meanings. It is a word thrown around by gurus, coaches, and therapists alike, yet none of these can give you a straightforward answer to what wholeness really is.

It is mainly because the world of psychology and mental health is very good at defining what is wrong with us but has a challenge in determining what it looks like to be right, healthy, and whole.

How do you know when you are whole?

Would you know it when you saw it?

Are there degrees of wholeness?

Does wholeness look the same for you as it does for me?  

There are more questions than answers.

"Wholeness is our capacity to experience health as transcending all limitations while accepting them, overcoming this virus of perfectionism which keeps us locked into an imaginary world rather than the real world...it is paradoxically in accepting (limitations) that we can transcend them." — Laurence Freeman

None of these (limitations) can be put under a microscope and be scientifically studied in a vacuum. We might dissect the body and look at it on a molecular level, but we still wouldn't get complete information on how the body interplays with the mind, soul, emotions, or relationships. The truth is - wholeness is a complex issue.

The Mindset of Wholeness

Because the subject of wholeness is so elaborate, let's consider just three aspects of how being whole might be looked at.

1. How we see ourselves

The whole person sees themselves truthfully. That means accepting limitations as well as areas of personal excellence and requires relational feedback and personal reflection.

Wholeness is not limited to seeing yourself only in a positive light. Instead of saying: "I am either this or that.", the whole person can accept the duality of their existence: "I am this and that." For example, you wouldn't say: "I am either right or wrong. I am either a success or a failure. I either take mine, or someone else will get it." Instead, you move to a form of both/and thinking: "I am both right about topic X, and wrong about topic Y. I am both a successful woman and a woman who has learned from her failures. I can both get mine, and someone else can pursue theirs too." We go from a stance of separation to more connection.

Rather than condemning our shortcomings, this position allows us to embrace ourselves with understanding and grace. We are growing more mature and wiser while holding the capacity to hold the tension of the opposites.

Instead of the former confined existence, there is openness, curiosity, and self-compassion, which provide room to learn and grow.

Note: for some people, it might be easy to accept the bad, but it's more challenging to accept the good. The whole person works on integrating both as part of their reality.

2. What we do with how we see ourselves

The whole person moves toward improving limitations and shortcomings and utilizing areas of personal excellence.

Don't confuse this with striving for perfection. The first makes you feel wonderful because you are doing your best. The latter makes you feel terrible because your work is somehow never good enough.

A whole person rests and enjoys who and where they are in life while seeking improvement areas for the benefit of self and others. Understanding that each moment is good and can serve us, even though we may experience pain and brokenness, helps us write a more extraordinary story.

The imperfections of life make it beautiful, and the good, the bad, the ugly, can serve us alike.

Remember: wholeness means the compassionate and patient cooperation of all parts of us, the head, the heart, the body, the spirit, the ego, the subconscious, the inner child, the inner parent, and so on. In this interplay, all parts are involved, harmonizing with each other, working together, and serving a useful function.

Leaning into your wholeness doesn't happen in a day. It happens in a lifetime, and it is not a single moment that defines who we are, it is a series of choices.

3. What we do when we "fail"

This might come as a shock, but life is not a steady improvement in the right direction. A whole person will too experience pain, struggles, and broken relationships. Meaning wholeness is not dependent upon our circumstances. What matters is finding comfort within the discomfort of life.

In the words of Rick Hanson: "When you open to the whole of your experience, you feel more at home in yourself."

Are you looking for a practical tip on how to get there?

Start practicing awareness.

One thing that can help is filling out a daily gratitude journal or exercising your attention.

For about a minute, be aware of all the sounds around you. Just listen. Let them be what they are. Your inner verbal commentary is not needed; stay with the experience and notice how you feel as you expand and shift your focus.

For about a minute, be aware of the sensations of breathing: your chest, your heart, your stomach, your rib cage, diaphragm, your back. Feel the air going through your nose, down your throat, your head, and shoulders following the breath with each inhalation, with each exhalation. Let this feeling of calmness sink in as your whole body focuses on the sensations of breathing.

As you come home to yourself, feel at ease with yourself, get in touch with your emotions. What is coming up? What wants to flow through you? Where are your blocks? Open to the feelings you may have pushed away and welcome them into your awareness. You don't have to act upon them - feel them, just let yourself know it's okay they are there so that you can feel at home and ease with yourself.

Why do all of these exercises matter?

In one way or the other, we have all been fragmented by all the things that happened to us.

Thinking we are pursuing a moment of wholeness like it's midnight on New Year's Eve is incredibly limiting and keeps us from moving forward in life.

The truth is that wholeness is not a moment, and it is not a state. It's a process. Carl Jung taught us that the process of healing and wholeness comes from the balancing of our lives.

Since life is fluid, with each day presenting new challenges, wholeness is, indeed, a journey, change, and growth. Instead of one static image, wholeness then becomes a lifelong sense of accomplishment and happiness with our current state of being.

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