Hello, and happy spring to all!

As I write, I’m looking out my window on a sunny day. There’s a light breeze, the daffodils are nodding proudly, and the leaf buds on the trees are bright, bright green. Everything is emerging, presenting itself, and bursting open. I’m uplifted by this beauty, for sure, and I’m also struck by another aspect of springtime: the notion of interconnection. Fresh roots interact with the soil, bumblebees interact with the blossoms, and seeds are carried by the wind to new destinations. Nature simply wouldn’t exist without the interconnectedness of systems, and each individual part of those larger systems is connected. We are all interconnected.

And isn’t it just like that with us humans? When I’m speaking with clients, we’re digging deeply into the internal maze that each of us, as humans, carry. We’re looking deeply into the individual, and with that work, we’re looking at the depths of identity, values, and vulnerability. But that’s only half of the work. The other half is about what happens when that individual interacts with the larger world. The larger system of the world, and the interaction of individual humans bumping up against each other in that world. 

So often we wonder “why do I act like I do?” Really, isn’t that one of the biggest questions for us as humans? Usually when I encounter this question with clients, there’s a tone of remorse to the question. Or shame, or ruefulness. There’s a sense of responsibility to the question, which I appreciate, and there’s also a deep turning inward to seek the answers.

This is where I like to take a pause. Turning inward to answer questions about self and identity is crucial, yes, but it’s not the only place to seek clarity. We as humans are units in a larger system, and it’s worth it to draw back a bit and ponder what happens at that point of interconnectedness. There’s an alchemy that happens between us and the world, and we are only one part of that larger picture.

Think about this: how do you behave in a spa? Or a spiritual setting? Would you behave the same way in those situations as you would serving time in a supermax prison? Could you? For the vast majority of us, probably not!

If we are in a situation that is combative or threatening, it brings out certain aspects of us. If we’re in a situation that is deeply nurturing, it brings out something else. A stressful job makes us feel differently than a job full of laughter. A romantic relationship that makes us feel celebrated for who we are has an extremely different effect on us than a relationship that is full of criticism. 

Or, if we present our identity to the world and are met with shock, anger, and rejection, an important part of us withers on the inside. If we’re met with a warm embrace and a smile of welcome, we grow on the inside and feel our own dignity. 

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not proposing that we have no responsibility for our actions. We absolutely do! Things happen to us, both wonderful and frightening, and I believe we all have a responsibility to strive to be our best selves in any situation. But if we expect ourselves to automatically be our “spa selves” all the time, no matter what, this is ignoring half of the equation.

We as humans are not closed systems. We are affected by the world around us, and conversely, the world is affected by us and our choices.

So yes, do the internal work, and do it with devotion. But I suggest that none of us do it in an isolation tank, or with the idea that you are alone and separate. Let’s not forget to factor in the other part of the equation: the circumstances we find ourselves in and the interconnectedness of ourselves and the world around us.

Want to learn more about the idea of identity and interconnectedness? Dan Siegel, MD wrote a fascinating book on this very subject called Intraconnected. The subtitle says a lot: MWe As The Integration of Self, Identity, and Belonging. Or if you’d like to hear an interview with Dan about his book, here’s one from Sounds True.

Or if you are a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, or the parent of a transgender/non-binary child, and you want to read more about how this topic might pertain to your situation, check it out on my other website.

Best of all, if there’s anything you want to dig into and explore in your life, be it a big life decision, a challenge you face daily, or supporting someone who is struggling to be themselves in this wider world, book a consultation with me to see if coaching is right for you. From now until May 1st, I’m running a Spring Special for new clients: A Foundation Session plus three 50 minute sessions for $325 (regular price $400). Feel free to email me at [email protected] or book a free consultation to find out more!

We are human. We are strong yet vulnerable. We are individuals and members of a greater structure. We are in this together, and I’m here to help. Be well, everyone!