A friend of mine was telling me about a recent experience he had at the dentist. He’d started having some pain around one of his molars and, like a lot of people, he wrote it off at first as a little toothache, maybe a canker sore. He rinsed with salt water for a couple of days, but the pain didn’t go away. He tried Orajel, but that didn’t work. The pain continued to get worse until he finally gave in and made an appointment with his dentist. Sure enough, it wasn’t a canker sore. It was a serious infection that required major treatment to clear up. The procedure was successful and my friend was thrilled to finally be pain free. But the dentist said he wasn’t finished yet. The infection would likely recur and, while they could treat it as it flared up, the permanent solution would be to remove several of his lower teeth and replace them with artificial ones. It would be a major procedure that would require multiple visits, not to mention a sizable chunk out of his bank account. My friend was a hard no and opted to go the maintenance route. He was happy to be pain free for the time being and when the problem popped back up, he’d deal with it then. He also told me he was feeling a lot of resentment toward the whole thing. He had always been a dutiful brusher and flosser. This kind of thing wasn’t supposed to happen to him.
All of this got me thinking about the three stages of personal mastery. (Go ahead, roll your eyes and laugh. And before you ask, yes, even a trip to the dentist reminds me of what we do here at IMS. Hey, it’s what I do.) The journey to personal mastery occurs in three stages, and we like to think of moving from one stage to next as passing through a window. Stage 1 is Unconsciousness. It is here that we are simply going through life, lost in our patterns, believing that the world is simply happening to us. Like my friend when he first started to feel the pain around his tooth, it was easier, even preferable, to believe that it was just a little toothache, that it would clear up on its own. It was only when the pain became unbearable that he took the next step to get help. Similarly, when we are in enough pain AND education and training are available to us, there is an opening to pass through the window into Stage 2: Awareness. It is here that we develop the ability and capacity to choose. We become aware of ourselves and our patterns and hone the tools we need to shift out of fear-based patterns. How we relate with Stage 2 will determine our results and whether or not we transition into Stage 3: Ownership. In Stage 3 we are committed and accountable, and persistent optimization is possible. However, people often get caught in Stage 2 and can stay stuck there for months, years, maybe even their entire lives, because they are either Processing or Tolerating. Maybe even some combination of both. I’ll go into more detail on these two ways of relating to Stage 2 in some upcoming posts, but for the time being, we can bring it back to my friend’s dental odyssey. He had taken the steps to remedy the pain he was in (Stage 2) and he was feeling good. In order to fix the problem permanently (Stage 3) he would have to subject himself to some solid discomfort. He was opting to live with a recurring problem (Tolerating) in order to avoid the pain and financial burden of going through with the major procedure. He also couldn’t get past the idea that he practiced good dental hygiene and, therefore, this simply wasn’t supposed to be happening to him (Processing). Similarly, on the way to personal mastery, Stage 2 can feel comfy and cozy and it becomes inviting to just stay put. Transitioning into Stage 3 requires taking ownership and accountability of our emotional patterns and our actions. That’s going to mean experiencing some discomfort along the way and many people simply are not willing to opt in for that.
The good news is our programs and core curriculum are designed to guide you through your journey toward personal mastery. We have the tools, the direction, and a community of like-minded people to help you along the way. Click HERE for more information and sign up for a Power Series Weekend Intensive today!