Our contemporary society is underpinned by a sense of lack. We feel as though we are always lacking something. We lack motivation; we lack happiness, health, joy, time, money, love, the list never ends. We might catch ourselves saying, ‘if only I had more (insert your choice of desire) … then I would be (insert your choice of the desired outcome)…’. We seem to always choose to see ourselves as though we are lacking something.
Why do we think and act in certain ways? There are instruments that allow us to understand ourselves in a deeper way and set us on a path to mental wellness. Using certain other instruments allows us to unlock hidden potential and gain a deeper level of understanding. But first, let us gain an understanding of the systems that make up our inner domains before looking at how we can identify and use our innate instruments and turn those into intrapersonal skills. To understand the complexity of how we are built I rely on the fresh and functional framework outlined by Ingvar Villido – master teacher of awareness.
UNDERSTANDING OUR INNER SYSTEMS – ALL SYSTEMS GO!
An analogy I often use is a car. There are the chassis and suspension, the engine, the electrical and fuel systems, the climate control, and the interior. All of those sub-systems function in full synchronicity when you drive a car. When a problem appears you have to understand which system is at fault. For example, fixing the body of the car does not fix the cars electric system, etc. It’s the same case with us. Our internal functioning cannot be fixed solely by dealing with our body alone.
No car moves without a command from the driver (the same goes for autonomous/self-driving cars). Whether that command comes in the form of a very simple command like changing gears or pressing a pre-programmed button, it’s the same case with us. According to Villido, we have five main systems or ‘levels’.
The first is the physical body level that concerns all our physiology, anatomy, biochemistry and so on. Thanks to modern science and medicine we have a very good understanding of how we function on a physical level. The next internal level is the emotional level that is connected with our energy, i.e. how we feel and this very much dictates how we behave. For example, by feeling angry will decide or determine a certain level of energy, behavior, and thoughts.
Then there is the mental level. Information is stored in our memory and reproduced in all sorts of ways. Whether it is recalling information, imagining the future, a thought process, or analysis. It’s a completely different level than that of the emotions or physical level.
The forth is the level of awareness. That’s our tool to notice and to explore. Villido says that your awareness can be best described as the link between you – the one who notices – and the object of your observation. When you discover (as a witness) what it is, that you use to observe, you find your own awareness. When you discover this instrument and learn where your awareness is positioned, you can also learn to direct it. If you observe you will find that awareness is always in the present moment and is significantly faster than thinking – it moves ultra-fast. Do an experiment and listen to different sounds in your environment. Listen to them one by one as you begin to notice them. Notice how fast your awareness shifts from one sound to locating the next, changing direction and not being obstructed by physical barriers (walls, windows, etc.).
The final level is the most intrinsic or core part of us, the true commander, known as the True ‘Self’. Unfortunately, in most people, this Self is “dormant” and a substitute has “taken” its place – the everyday autopilot, or the “ego”.
INTRAPERSONAL SKILLS INSTEAD OF AUTOPILOT MODE
Our behavior can be attributed to automatic (meaning they are sub-conscious), complexes. According to this framework, complexes are made out of a mental and an emotional counterpart that gets automatically activated by a trigger. For example, when the sun comes out and we begin to think and feel a certain way, this is a complex. 95 percent of our lives run on autopilot and such automatic complexes.
Intrapersonal, ‘intra’ meaning inside, skills draw on awareness, the primary instrument that we can use to understand and regulate our internal functions. If we do not use awareness intentionally, our internal functions remain under the command of our subconscious mind – meaning they run on the ‘autopilot’ mode. This mode is reactive and doesn’t leave room to be proactive, to discover new things or change the repetitive routine.
People react constantly to data presented in their daily lives with the activation of an automatic inner reaction, closely followed by a physical reaction, resulting in subsequent behavior. The dysfunctional and automatic complexes initiate behavior over which the person has only limited or no control at all, although one may well remain informed about the dysfunctional nature of the actions (i.e. bursts of rage). Automatic complexes equal a compulsion. Like a training pattern, a complex has a command value, but goes into operation without adequate assessment of the situation or intentional will of Self, hijacking the whole system.
Some level of automation can be very helpful in everyday life, but due to its compulsive nature, it leaves very little room for free choice. When allowed to dominate, this turns a human being into an automated being, sleepwalking through life, and ultimately results in us not really living our own lives, but instead a life dictated by the autopilot.
When most of our life is run by this automated ‘autopilot’, we call this the ego or the pseudo-self. This reaction-based self involves all of the inner reactions, positive and negative inner self-talk, for example, “I am Helena. I am a doctor. I’m a businesswoman. I’m an entrepreneur. I’m beautiful. I’m ugly. I’m fat. I’m thin. I’m productive. I’m lazy.” These are actually not our real identities. All of these “I’s” are not actually the real you. These are different kinds of descriptions of a situation, a complex, or something given to you by society. It’s not only genes that are passed down through the generations, but also all of these patterns, our reactions, beliefs and world view too. It’s one of the strangest paradoxes, that we know our reactions but not ourselves. That’s why Plato, Socrates, and most ancient wisdom traditions have highlighted the importance to “know thyself”.
Awareness forms the basis of all our intra-personal skills. Learning to use and lead our internal instruments includes knowing what our attention is focused upon. This is the prerequisite to effective self-leadership – being aware of the whereabouts of your attention – the most valuable asset of the 21stcentury. If it just continues to randomly fall on the most prominent stimuli, the “monkey-mind” process, we will remain under the influence of those stimuli, becoming dependent and powerless.
INTRAPERSONAL SKILLS = UNDERSTANDING = MENTAL WELLNESS
Intrapersonal skills are based on knowledge and understanding about what goes on inside of us and consist of three meta-systems as described in detail above; emotions, thoughts, and awareness. To create a meaningful life, enhance productivity and nurture happiness, these three systems need to seamlessly cooperate with each other and the physical body under the orchestration of the chief commander, the Self.
Learning intrapersonal skills is the opener of other skills, much like learning to read opens access to a lot of knowledge and therefore enables the development of new knowledge and understanding. In this sense, intrapersonal skills form the pathway for a successful career, yet people lack knowledge about these skills due to their absence in the current educational curriculum – we are not taught about how to be mentally fit.
Through learning intrapersonal skills people will gain a deeper understanding of themselves. Once we take the first step to begin to understand why we are the way we are, we can set forth a pathway towards better mental wellness. When paying attention to the intra-personal, we will at some point find ourselves at the beginning of yet another developmental phase – how to effectively release and discontinue dysfunctional and harmful complexes altogether? According to the unique ‘Human 2.0’ program developed by Villido, this is not only possible but in fact normal for every human being.