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Leading With Internal Navigation (part 2): principles and benefits

Now that you have a better idea of the philosophy behind Connect-IN, it is time to reveal how these ideas can be put into action and ultimately benefit you. This will be laid out in an overview of the main principles, which include i) Connect-IN’s therapeutic approach and what this approach requires, followed by the results of this labour: ii) What Connect-IN promotes.

I) Therapeutic Approach

“We are influenced, but not determined.”

This is the guiding principle that underlies not only an understanding of how we became the people we are today, but also directs us in where to look as a means of breaking free from restrictive ways of being that are affecting our present-day realities.

This statement, when viewed from the perspective of ‘who done it’ in personality development, acknowledges the dynamic external forces at play that contribute to shaping us—ie from our parents/families, from our peers, from marketing and social media efforts—while also instilling hope by suggesting an internal force as an agent of change. It recognizes that much of what we believe to be true about ourselves and our understanding of the world is more-or-less an unconscious internalization of societal values and ideals that we have acquired from our childhood and continue to uphold today. An example of this could be when somebody says to “Man Up” you know exactly what they are getting at because you have been conditioned to identify what being a ‘man’ is with certain common traits and characteristics. Irrespective of whether that individual has the proper anatomy that fits the description of a man, you know they are using the title as a way of policing the recipient back into the fold of stereotypical behavior—the embodiment of a ‘real man’.

When we respond negatively to these taunts, or find ourselves in general to be overly sensitive to other people’s remarks, it is because we are believing on some fundamental level that these people define who we are. And yes, if we were to go along with the premise that we are a product of our society, or that we are only as worthy and likable as the number of likes we received on our Instagram or Facebook profiles, then these unfavourable comments would be a cause for dire concern...but we are so much more than that! The only way we can recognize this is if we begin to separate ourselves from the pack-mentality and develop a stronger relationship with our internal experience.

This process of uncovering who we are underneath the layers of conditioning can be quite daunting; especially if it means resurfacing past wounds that have calcified over the years as a means of survival. But if you are reading this now, I imagine you are tired of just ‘surviving’; you are here because you want meaningful change. And what better way to go about that path of personal liberation than with a guide beside you, there to help illuminate the road while supporting you each step of the journey.

4 Steps of the Process

1) initiate 2) investigate 3) inquire 4) (re)integrate

INitiate – This may seem obvious, however it could be argued that this first step of engagement is the most important. You may be coming in to therapy with an idea that the therapist is here to try and identify and extract all that is ‘wrong’ with you...not so! This approach is non-pathologizing, which means having the recognition that there is nothing wrong with you as a person. The other understanding is that coming to therapy is a declaration of commitment to yourself, and that commitment is ongoing in the sense that it is your responsibility in deciding what you want to talk about; the direction of the session will flow naturally with you being at the helm--I am here to help you help yourself. This is not to say I will be idle in my role as therapist. As we are talking, I may highlight certain words that get said, pace back observations on how your body seems to be responding to certain subjects, or even offer interpretations and possible links to situations if it is felt to be helpful in the moment. But this all comes secondary to your understanding of your experience—through reflection and insight.

INvestigate – the follow-up step is essential, as it encourages us to explore what it is exactly that is causing you pain. Initially people come into therapy with only a vague sense that something is not right. They are either feeling down, overly agitated, or a combination of both, and have exhausted a number of self-help strategies but nothing seems to give. It is only when we are able to sit with these experiences and start putting more descriptive language to them that we can begin to identify and move through that which is disrupting our well-being. Having a repertoire for labeling emotions may be quite foreign to you; perhaps you learned earlier on that it was not acceptable to even feel these things, let alone talk about them. The good thing is that you don’t have to do this alone; I am here to help you access these feelings in a language that is relatable to you and meant to further your understanding.

INquire – as a result of our investigation, things might emerge which had only been held implictly, or non-verbally, in your awareness. Internalized values, beliefs, and conceptions of self and the world can arise that you had unconsciously accepted to be true as a result of your life experiences. This next step is critical, as it encourages us to confront and reexamine these assumptions so that we can move forward in life making more informed, self-determined decisions. It would be more apt to describe this part of the process as ‘compassionate confrontation’, as with greater awareness around the varied outside influences and their inter-generational reinforcement comes an appreciation of people’s benevolent (albeit misguided) intentions.

(re)INtegrate – this is where the results and consolidation of our efforts can be realized, with you coming away each session with a more connected sense-of-self. This is not to say that this entails a dramatic external shift in how you go about your life, but it can mean that you are taking strides towards developing your internal relationship to your self and the world in a way that brings about more peace, clarity, compassion, and confidence. It can mean reconnecting with a part of yourself that you had thought was lost, or only presented itself in glimpses and wanted more of in your life.

ii) What Connect-IN Promotes

This process, while having a mindfulness component that promotes introspection, is not meant to be used as a way of retreating into the self; it is a practical guide to living life more fully, and on your terms. Leading with internal navigation does not mean that we exclude outside influences or try to shut ourselves off from receiving help or advice from others...if that were the case there would be no need for therapy! It does mean, however, that we become more discerning when receiving feedback, checking-in afterwards to see if what is being said resonates or holds true for you.

Having the willingness to seek help when we need it is not a sign of weakness; it is an example of taking charge in your life and enlisting support so that you can get the most out of any situation. We humans are social beings and excel when working together as a team. Doing so strengthens connections that allow us to thrive. And the work that you do on yourself does not end with you. It will have a ripple-effect that touches upon all those you interact with and beyond. It is our actions that connect us, as well as become expressions of who we are.

So I guess the question is, “Who are you!?”

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