(W)hole in One – Holistic Empowerment

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by Kathy Eliwa

Holistic Empowerment

What needs to be included in a “holistic approach”? Where are you in the bigger picture? How do you navigate your world, your reality? How much power do you have, what is its source, nd how do you use it?

Of Cogs in the System, Fractals, and Divine Particles

My experience is that people often feel disempowered because they perceive “the System”, whatever that means in any specific context, as overpowering, inaccessible and indifferent if not hostile towards individual needs (more so if these are special needs).

Do you see how this can be even more acute for victims/survivors/people with traumatic experiences? No matter whether we are talking about someone who, for instance, suffered actual abuse, is struggling with severe illness, fled from war or was affected by a natural disaster, or someone who is going through a fairly common yet still painful situation such as divorce, loss of job and financial instability, or death of a family member: There is no measure for pain. What people feel, and how they cope, is always individual and determined by a unique and complex constellation of factors. I believe we have no right to judge – neither the “severity” of the trauma, nor whether or not people “pull through”, how they manage and how long that process takes.

When we are vulnerable, going through all the required formalities, having assessments, applying for benefits, seeking help and having to wait for ages or being declined feels even more daunting. Add social isolation and stigma to the mix, and you have an ideal breeding ground for feelings of shame, guilt, inadequacy and impotence.

How can we believe in ourselves when everybody else has given up on us? When we are treated as if we were the problem? Structural violence and secondary victimization are real, and it is very hard to stand up for yourself while dealing with adversity, sustaining yourself materially (=surviving) and doing your healing work all at the same time.

While we probably all agree that nobody is given a life on a silver platter, that we all must build it ourselves; I do think it would suit us well to muster some compassion before we start demanding personal initiative. Why not acknowledge that indeed, it simply isn’t “fair” to have a life aggravated, threatened or shattered by external influences, that some things happen through no fault of our own, and that some of these things better “shouldn’t” happen.

It is understandable when for a while, people feel that as it wasn’t them who messed up, they shouldn’t be expected to make up either. It takes time, and it takes compassion, for them to see that with this attitude, they are not only victims of their perpetrators or circumstances, but they are also victimizing themselves. Only this insight creates awareness of choices, and then victimhood can be outgrown once and for all, rather than to keep “dealing with the issues”. Survival, and the recognition thereof as an achievement, precedes empowerment, while denial keeps us trapped in the blame game.

While a firm believer in personal power and responsibility, I nonetheless see social and political implications:

• Do we really want to focus on functionality (for example, “high performance” or “ability to work”) alone, or wouldn’t we rather choose to adopt a broader view, …
• …for instance “[…] the following principles are basic to the happiness, harmonious relations and security of all peoples: Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being […]. The health of all peoples is fundamental to the attainment of peace and security and is dependent upon the fullest co-operation of individuals and States.” (CONSTITUTION OF THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION)
• Look at the words in bold: happiness, harmonious relations, peace – this is not personal woo-woo, these are collective tasks! As much as I second individual responsibility for what we achieve and experience in life – this is not where it ends. We do have a social responsibility as well, and this includes co-creation of conducive structures, environments and cultures as well as caring for fellow beings who, temporarily or permanently, are unable to take care of themselves. Ideally, we would always see the potential in others, even when they cannot see it themselves, we would hold space and, where necessary, give support / unlock resources for this potential to unfold.
• When we classify less common manifestations of (human) life, or certain reactions to adversity – which are inherently meant to facilitate healing – as sickness, illness, disease, disorder or disability, we reinforce victimization. By implying that such conditions or behaviours are “faults” in an individual and require “treatment”, we a) fail to see that they often are healthy, natural phases in the process of self-regulation, b) locate the “cause” predominantly within the individual, or define the individual itself as the cause, c) invite discrimination and blame, while d) simultaneously denying (self-)empowerment. This is a form of structural violence.
• When we pathologize certain individual ways of life, interpret them as “failures”, or view them as “burdens for society”, we are effectively doing the exact same thing that we are accusing said individuals of: Blaming someone else. Neither way is a one-way track. If we want people to take ownership of their lives and be “independent”, we all need to co-create structures that facilitate personal power. There is no way around interdependence. We are all connected in manifold ways, and whatever we choose to do or refrain from: It does have effects on the whole.

We must not forget that all the structures we are finding ourselves in are human-made. You think you can’t fight city hall? Yes, you can. “City hall” is not the building, nor constituted by an unchangeable law of nature. There are actual people behind everything who keep the systems up and running: Humans. WE. What we made, we can also undo – or improve and evolve. “It has always been that way”, “My boss told me to do it” or “The government requires it” does not automatically make something best practice, nor imply that there is no other way.

I do believe there are as many ways as individuals in this world, and more. If one of those ways is currently favoured by a majority, or even has become “the law”, that doesn’t mean it cannot change or be changed, nor that you have to follow it.

“Cui bono?” is always a good question. And the next question would be: What can we do? Or, even more concretely: What am I doing about this particular challenge?

Do we, do you, do I:

Resign – and learn to suffer without complaining,
Resist – moan and blame a lot, oppose everything, but without any better ideas,
Fight – we may or may not be victorious, and the price is high either way,
OR
Create – build our own sustainable structures from the inside out as an alternative approach, invite people to collaborate, and convince by tangible, real life results.

Getting present to our co-creatorship, and getting in touch with ourselves and each other, are the first steps when we want things to change. People often argue that it wouldn’t make a difference whether they cut down on plastic waste, ate less meat, saved energy, signed a petition, donated for a social cause, greeted their neighbours or gave a smile to a stranger in the street…

While it is probably true that one single act won’t visibly and lastingly change anything, what I am talking about is adopting certain attitudes, transitioning into a new way of being. We become aware, we make others aware, we model, we inspire, we join or build movements, we create synergy.

Some helpful traits we can try on include:

Integrity. Know who you are, what your needs, goals, values, purpose and vision are, and act accordingly. Speak your truth. Embrace your vulnerability and your awesomeness alike.
Responsibility. “I cannot” often means “I don’t want to”. And that’s absolutely okay if you own and embrace it. Just don’t blame anyone else for it.
Proactivity. Don’t waste your time getting rid of all the things that bother you first. Why spending your life provisionally fixing the leaky roof, draughty windows and mouldy basement of a structure that is a ruin anyway when you could start building a new house now?
Simplicity. “Take care of the little things, and the big things take care of themselves.” Can’t come up with the masterplan to save the world, nor see anyone else do it? Don’t fret. Pick ONE simple thing TODAY that you can do easily – and just do it. One step leads to the next. “The beauty of the building block is its lack of complexity.”
Community. Build your support structures before you need them. Give while you have plenty (don’t forget there are more currencies than money), and everyone will thrive – including yourself.

Look at this picture – what do you see?

Fractals are infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales. They are created by repeating a simple process over and over in an ongoing feedback loop. Driven by recursion, fractals are images of dynamic systems – the pictures of Chaos.

What are Fractals?

To me, this is a source of comfort as well as an inspiration, because:

• Even the most complex, seemingly complicated manifestations derive from comprehensible basic building blocks and principles. Notably, the “Seven Hermetic Principles” can be a good starting point for contemplation.
• There isn’t necessarily that much to “know”, but infinite space and time to experience. With a handful of elements, we can create unlimited abundance and ever fresh masterpieces.
• When we understand one core element, we have the master key to as many gateways as we choose. Why not start at our own core – our heart?
• We are way not as different from each other, and indeed from any species, as we may fear or pride ourselves to be. Diversity is in the moving, breathing, evolving, ever-changing combinations of basically eternal, relatively uniform particles and principles. In short, life emerges in connections.
• Think of a kaleidoscope: A few simple forms, changes of position and mirrors are all it takes to create a multitude of patterns, and you rarely (if ever) get the same one twice. What we experience in life largely depends on what we mirror (in), and especially where we draw our mirror axes.

There is a theory I have chosen to adopt as a guideline for my human journey: We all are particles of a divine, meta- or primal consciousness which is omniscient and omnipotent. As such, although paradox, this consciousness cannot make fresh new experiences, have genuine interpersonal relationships – nor can it die. Therefore, it split into myriads of conscious particles – all living beings. Their purpose is to make personal experiences before eventually reuniting with the Source.

Basically, it is a gigantic role play. Even our term “person” points to that – it stems from Greek, Latin and Etruscan words related to theatre, masks, roles. Wait a minute: The storyline is pretty cool, indeed. Gruesome, scary, daunting at times, yes, but let’s admit it, when picking a novel or a movie, we are looking for some thrill as well, right? And then, there are all the special, precious, heart-warming scenes, too – are they not worth all the errors and confusions? But, putting it rather flippantly, is all that really necessary, just because the Source / God (or whatever other name you choose) wants to feel how it feels to be a mortal?

By the way, it does not matter whether this is “true” or “right”. For most concepts, there are no universal standards anyway. What matters is whether a theory or model is an empowering working hypothesis. For me, this one most certainly is. Think about it:

Knowing (or rather, choosing to believe) you are in a divine role play means:

• You cannot fail. Your performance may be better or worse, but that’s (quite literally) not the end of the world. There is always room for improvement.
• You are part of the divine wisdom, you already have inside yourself everything there is to know, you can evolve (or devolve, if you so choose) at will if you unlock your inner resources, and whatever you choose, it always makes sense.
• You can be scriptwriter, director, set designer, producer, and play the main part – all in one person. That’s going to be your masterpiece!
• If you do not like your part, choose another role. Nobody needs to play the villain, the loser or the victim forever.
• You can personally cast your co-stars.
• You can rehearse, audit, edit, and tell your story in your own voice.
• Life is an art, it is play, it is fun, you have unlimited ways to express yourself – get creative.
• You can deeply impact and make a difference for other people through your acts.

If you like none of what you have just read, don’t worry. Just disregard it. This is a legit choice as well. Other routes would be enlightenment, either as instant, complete and permanent reconnection with the Source, consequently leaving this world behind in one way or another, or “semi-enlightenment”, where you know but are not permanently conscious, or simply choose to play out your human experience and “forget” about your divine nature temporarily (some people can switch at will which is a rather comfortable AND exciting way of being). And if you feel this is all humbug, fair enough. You could still decide to make your life the most awesome experience. This does not necessarily mean having no problems and living happily ever after.

How about allowing yourself the full scope of human experience, taking charge of your life, and trying to find the cosmic joke even in nasty situations?
Free Will in the Labyrinth

Go down the path of human experience we must: rise up to it. It’s not our choice what lies on the way – but what we do with it; or who we encounter – but how we meet them. A labyrinth is not a maze, nor is life. There is only one way through: our own way that we create through our experience – perception and action. Nobody else can live our life for us, or even tell us what is the “best” way to do so.

And by the same token, no vision is too big to think it up. If we then make the mind matter again and take inspired action, we bring the vision into the physical realm, where we can embody it. With this manifestation, we weave soulful connections (love) with other beings, and make the re-connection (that’s what “religion” originally means) to “something bigger” – this is our spirituality. All this in one makes us whole, and real – this is the very fabric of reality. Where are you in this picture?

Do you choose to know, feel, love and give yourself?

(Photo by Ashley Batz on Unsplash)

Consider this worst case scenario:

You do not have a free will. Things just happen to you or are inflicted upon you by destiny or other external agencies. It might be your unloving partner, grumpy boss, the government, cancer, too much or too little intelligence, the economy, God or whom else you’d love to blame. You can’t change any of them, right? Even worse, aren’t we all determined by our genetic setup and mysterious biochemical and neuro-physiological processes?

Yet here you are, contemplating the concept of “free will”. Obviously, you are capable of asking: “What if?” Wouldn’t it then be possible to act “as if”, too?

If you do not have a free will and still find yourself preoccupied with these questions, then it seems you are meant to prove none of your decisions and actions can defy destiny. In order to demonstrate this, of course you would do everything to outperform yourself – or how else could you show that anything else than your precious self prevents your success despite your best effort? Staying on your couch lamenting, on the other hand, is neither evidence for you not having a free will, nor for anyone or anything outside of yourself sabotaging you. It only proves you did not choose to take on the challenge. You may applaud yourself for pulling off this feat: denying your purpose without free will. Respect!

Now the sweet deal:

If you choose to acknowledge your free will, and with it your co-creatorship, who or what could stop you from also choosing to

• believe that you are unstoppable,
• (co-)create your reality,
• pursue the worthiest causes,
• love life, yourself and your fellow beings,
• set your own gold standards for yourself,
• celebrate when you live up to them (as more and more often you will!) and
• be gentle with yourself when you do not (as there is no failure, only feedback),
• be your best possible self, unfold your fullest potential for the highest good of all,
• and enjoy life?

The answer is: Nobody can stop you. If you make these choices, you are already halfway there. You pick your belief or pattern, then it becomes self-evident and tends to self-replicate. Unfortunately, most of us are masterful in this when it comes to negative loops. In a way, it is a done-for-you thing, for better or worse. But the first step is always yours – as long as you are breathing, you have absolute power to initiate or stop a thought process, which gives you “that feeling” in your body and raises your spirits. Have you noticed something? You’ve just manifested, created once more – your own experience. We always do it. We actually cannot not do it. That’s life 😊

Choose consciously: That’s how you manifest through mind, body, soul and spirit, expanding in all areas of your life and throughout your social circles, as you enjoy your journey through the labyrinth.

About Kathy

• Studied Education (major), Psychology & Philosophy (minor) at TU Dresden and FernUni Hagen, Germany
• Voluntary work in women’s self-help projects
• Certified Specialist in Emancipatory Women’s Project Work, Life Coach & NLP Practitioner
• Graduate of Ryan Eliason’s Visionary Business School
• Involved in the Mental Health & Wellbeing Pilot Project for schools in Bristol

Inspired by my own journey from victim to survivor to courageous co-creator, I have been studying, implementing and tweaking all things personal development and self-help from a very young age.

I have found that there is a wealth of different approaches out there, and none is “better” than another in that they all work for certain people, under certain circumstances. However, the true transformation is never in the method itself, but in a new way of being as it unfolds within the relationships with ourselves and others. Simplicity is key – most people do not have the time or even willingness to follow a rigid practice over a long period of time before tangible results become apparent. Likewise, there are some “quick fixes” which make us feel better immediately, but the effect wears off soon and the underlying issues may still remain unresolved and tend to come up again in different contexts and shapes.

Therefore, my Courageous Co-Creators Coaching is very individual – I hold a secure, loving space for my clients where they can discover and speak their truth, and then experiment and play! Drawing from my rich “toolbox” of modalities and resources, we co-create empowering experiences and encounters which allow integration of whatever comes up with joy and love, avoiding the overwhelm of too much theoretic input. I witness and honour my clients’ pain, and then walk with them as they transition into a new life of happiness, fulfilment and meaning.

If you are interested in one-on-one coaching with me, apply for a free, no-obligations strategy session here:

https://beyondsurvival.as.me/

From my own experience, I know that many people who are still in the victim or survivor stages also struggle financially and doubt that an investment in coaching could create the turnaround in their lives that they are craving for. To serve this clientele, I am designing a program that includes a private Facebook group and regular group coaching calls, at a very low price point. It is due to start in early 2018.
To receive updates on this and other projects I’m working on, plus a free copy of my e-book “Seven Circles”, please subscribe to my mailing list:

https://forms.aweber.com/form/90/1882917690.htm

For any questions, feedback or joint venture requests, you’re welcome to email me at

kathy@kathyeliwa.com

http://www.kathyeliwa.com

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