In May I joined a group of bankers for a day at Liliesleaf museum. They were thinking about sustainability and how banking can be part of “passing it on”. During the day we also reflected on what we are part of in terms South African history and each one of us had a different experience and position in terms of our history – in a short soulful reflection we were encouraged that each of us has an unique human spirit and that this was not broken despite challenging past stories – the story of Liliesleaf was showing us this.
When we walked the museum tour I saw the following quote:
“There exists no they and we, only us. Solidarity is and has to be indivisible…” – Olof Palme
During that time I was busy reading Jon Kabat-Zin’s book, Wherever you go there you are, and found a lot of synchronicity when reading about his reference to “Selfing”. Selfing is the tendency, according to Larry Rosenburg (Cambridge Insight Meditation Centre) to construct out of almost any situation a “I”, a “me” or a “mine”. This often makes us operate from a limited perspective. Out of virtually any moment our thinking mind slips into “my” moment, “my” desire, “my” knowledge, “my” idea, “my” feelings and “my” problem.
“If you look deeply for a stable, indivisible self, the core you that underlie your experience, you are not likely to find it other than in more thinking.”
All of this made me wonder about self-development, individual growth and how I often forget that “I” am part of…how quickly I slip into the “me” and the “I” and forget to think relational and collective. We often live and work in a culture of individualism. How the emphasis on “who I am” and “what I do” can create internal pressure and false or limited identity conclusions. And just as I am writing this I read about Neymar Jr, being sold for £200m in European Football (a team sport by the way), to better build his personal brand! And this in a time of extreme poverty in Africa, recession and other life challenges. The world is a challenging place to find perspective, isn’t it?
Take a few moments to consider the following questions:
- How can WE recognise the process of Selfing in ourselves through ingrained habits of comparison?
- If we recognise this, how can WE stop trying so hard to be SOMEBODY defined by external forces?
- Instead maybe for a moment just experience your own unique being (spirit) and what you are part of whether it is your team of colleagues or your family.
- How can I appreciate the team of people around me?
Selfing is present in my life and so applicable in different contexts – I can start by taking things less personally. When something happens maybe it is not ME, maybe it just happened – it is easy getting into “I” this and “me” that. I certainly want to be more present to that and show my appreciation and dependence on others more!
I am spending more time with individuals, teams and organisations on soulfulness. We had a small group joined for a Labyrinth walk at Rustenberg Farm in June and reflecting afterwards on life, work and leadership. I continue to do quarterly retreats where we create space for guided reflection, walking and sharing. It is also a privilege to talk to leaders and teams about the small sustainable ways we can move towards soulful life. I am learning more and more that experience and practice go so much further that theory only.
Please let me know if there are any ideas, requests or soulful stories. Remember your story might just help somebody else!
Upcoming events: Please join us
- DAY RETREAT | 8 September 2017 9:00-15:00 Blaauwklippen Manor House Stellenbosch. Make an appointment with yourself to stop, reflect and recognise your own “selfing” dialogue – Info & bookings
- SAODN 19 October 2017 @ 13.00 Cape Town // Bringing humanity into the workplace. I am speaking at the South African Organisational Development Network on soulfulness in the workplace, as well as recent developments. Click here for more info.