Here’s the question I’ve been pondering. Do we need to grow one step at a time, going through each developmental stage, building from the ground up—or—can we leapfrog?
Leapfrog . . . you know how they talk about developing countries not needing to lay thousands of miles of telephone lines to build their communications infrastructure, because when cell phone technology arrived they could leapfrog that stage of development. They could skip it entirely and go to a whole new level that didn’t even require telephone lines.
Is it possible for human beings to leapfrog aspects of our emotional and psychological development?
I don’t think we can skip an actual stage of development. The chart below shows 10 stages of development we all may grow through if we live a long and full life. Yes, I said, “we all may grow through,” because many people—most people—limit their own development and stop growing somewhere along their journey.
But even if we can’t skip any of these stages of development, is there a way to rapidly accelerate our emotional and psychological growth?
I think so. And certainly many people try.
The spiritual path
Our desire to leapfrog ourselves, to jump ahead and suffer less, is what motivates many people to walk a spiritual path. And I think this is largely the right idea. The spiritual path is primarily about doing our inner work. If we do a sufficient amount of inner work we begin to relate in a different and healthier way to the external world.
However, a problem arises. It’s known as “spiritual bypassing.” This happens when we focus on our spiritual development as an excuse to avoid dealing with our psychological development or our relationships. We go internal to avoid the discomfort of facing certain things in our lives.
In an interview I did with Ken Wilber, the acclaimed modern day philosopher and spiritual teacher, he acknowledged that spiritual bypassing is a real problem.
He told me, “In some cases, meditation can actually make matters worse. In fact, the way we found this out wasn’t theoretical, but looking at the results after twenty or thirty years of meditation pouring into this country, like Zen Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism and the other Eastern traditions. They really had a huge impact. At that time a lot of the psychologists just assumed meditation would make everything better. That enlightenment would make it all better. But, what we found after all that time of Americans doing meditation was that some of the meditation teachers still had big shadow elements and in some cases it had gotten worse. “
Wilber agreed with me that certain psychological and relationship issues couldn’t be resolved solely by pursuing a spiritual path.
So, if we can’t go around these issues—spiritually bypassing them—the next strategy is to confront them. And the key word here is “confront.” But the very idea of confrontation raises the specter of losing, or being proven wrong. Must we summon our courage to confront the shadow elements in our lives? Yes, at times this is appropriate and it’s emblematic of what people often do during the “old child” and “young adult” stages of development as shown on the chart above.
But, in actuality there is another way—this is the key—that makes leapfrogging possible.
We can resolve our psychological and relationship issues without confrontation. The key is no longer seeing people as having power over us. We don’t need to win or be right, we only need to be true to ourselves.
I am describing a fundamentally different way of relating—to ourselves and other people—and this is what Live Conscious is all about.
When we live this way we eliminate our fear of:
Asking for what we want
A moment ago I said, “We can resolve our psychological and relationship issues without confrontation,” and here the key word is “resolve,” which from Latin, resolvere,means to untie. Who unties? We untie. We each untie ourselves. No one does this for us. And that’s the key to accelerating our growth.
In the old paradigm, when people have power over us, either we confront, or we bypass. What I find so interesting about this new paradigm—Live Conscious—is that we end up where the spiritual path was intended to take us, but with our psychological issues resolved and our relationships expressed in a new kind of conversation.
If you’re searching for rapid self-improvement, open up to the tools and teachings of Live Conscious and you’ll leapfrog over the places in which you are stuck.
I fortify my spirit with this post. Sometimes I discourage myself, when I catch myself blaming others–doing the same old thing. I have your discussion of development/leapfrogging another way to remind myself that the time is always now.