The Journey Of Life MasteryJun 29, 2022
I have the privilege of coaching and mentoring some amazing people. It truly is an honor to be gifted the talents, the will, and the desire to help people grow into higher versions of themselves.
If you've followed my blogs or my podcast for any period, you might have noticed that when I spot patterns, I like to share them through my content. It's as if I get to study life, develop new awarenesses, and help people see what I see to continue to evolve society. It's humbling.
I often work with coaching clients and students who are experiencing massive changes and shifts in their lives. They might show up to create more wealth and success, but then we uncover that they are extremely unhappy, dissatisfied, or off balance in life. They think they want more of the same, but really, they are going through an identity crisis of sorts. Some call this a mid-life crisis, but they are really involved in a mid-life recalibration.
Every single human being has a unique purpose and destiny they are put on earth to discover, and when life knows you're not where you are intended to be, it shakes you to the core to get your attention. This is how radical change happens, and why people look to rediscover who they really are during their lifetime.
I've noticed a pattern - a path that people take when they face a transformation mid-stream. I've looked to explain this as simply and as linearly as possible, but not everyone's path is simple and linear.
I've broken this down into 5 stages: Stage 1 - Sleepwalking, Stage 2 - The Storm, Stage 3 - The Pause, Stage 4 - The Restart, and Stage 5 - Mastery.
In the following article I'll briefly discuss each. Hopefully it helps you understand your life and the lives of those around you more!
Stage 1 - Sleepwalking
The fact is that most people will never exit stage 1. They will remain in the sleepwalking phase for their entire lives, and fully believe that there was no more available to them.
The key theme of the sleepwalking phase is avoiding pain and seeking pleasure. In stage 1 people live mediocre, material lives, and they spend their time on earth trying to survive, accumulate, and experience pleasure as much as possible.
During this phase people identify with their thoughts and emotions, and are not able to differentiate between their mind, emotions, and the spiritual awareness within them. To people in stage 1, they are their thoughts and emotions, and they do as much as possible to distract themselves from the chaos within them. They might not be aware of their internal chaos because they won't look at it or feel it. Distraction comes in many forms such as chemicals, overworking, addiction to television, the inability to be alone, "hustling and grinding" to accumulate wealth, and many other forms of avoiding facing their mind and emotions. These activities temporarily numb the pain.
Unconsciously, these people know they are running from something, but they don't know what it is and they won't pause themselves long enough to understand. These folks live a life jumping from distraction to distraction, maybe even for the rest of their lives. The pain that these people are running from stems from unrecognized trauma, insecurity, inadequacy, insignificance, not living their purpose, not expressing their natural talents, allowing expired relationships to remain in their lives, not honoring themselves, or many other root causes.
They are living a compromised lives and are settling, and they are not living according to their soul's true desires.
The key signature of a person in stage 1 is control. Stage 1 people are constantly attempting to control what's going on in their outer circumstances. They are constantly rearranging the world around them. They might not know why, but it's because they can't control what's happening in their mind and body and they want to feel safe. Sadly, many live mediocre lives and die ignorant and unfulfilled. Mediocrity has nothing to do with wealth and success, and this is why some wealthy and successful people kill themselves. Mediocrity has nothing at all to do with external circumstances, but has everything to do with the lack of internal joy and happiness. Anyone can be unhappy, and that's why they live mediocre lives.
If there's not enough pain, they will never make a change in order let go of the need for distraction so that they can find real internal fulfillment.
Stage 2 - The Storm
If someone makes the leap into Stage 2, they could spend a single second or even the rest of their lives in this stage. The key theme in phase 2 is overwhelming pain. People in "The Storm" are experiencing pain which exceeds their upper threshold for the amount of pain they can tolerate and still continue to function.
In stage 2 a person hits a wall, and for the first time in their lives they become present to the fact that they can't escape their pain. There's no longer a way for a person in this stage to distract themselves from the overwhelming mental and emotional pain that they've been trying to avoid. They've hit a wall of pain that has been building, and is now at such a high level that it trips their nervous system.
Life is gentle with us at first, but often keeps giving us bigger signals to help us face our pain until we finally finally do. Life will hit us with a pebble, then a rock, then a brick, then a cinder block, then a boulder, then a Mack truck, then a train...
When life is ready for us to make a change, it will get our attention. For me it was being fired twice in 20 months after a long, successful run in corporate. Life was ready for me to get clear and get in my true purpose of being a guide, but I kept ignoring the signals until I had no other way to ignore the clear direction I was being taken. After my second termination I was no longer employable, and I was forced to face my overwhelming pain. For me stage 2 lasted about 2 months.
The signature of stage 2 is hopelessness. Life has shifted so radically, but we have no idea where we are headed or how to live. We've spent our entire lives running from distraction to distraction, and now nothing takes away the pain. We feel lost.
Some people feel the extraordinary pain and make an immediate shift. Some feel the hopelessness and end their life. However, if they are willing to feel and face their pain, the future is brighter than they could ever dream.
Stage 3 - The Pause
When a person is willing to finally face and feel their pain, their entire life as they know it seems to pause. The theme of stage 3 is rest. People in stage 3 are fundamentally paralyzed, and since they have spent their entire lives running hot, their body, mind, and emotions stop and seek rest.
When I was in stage 3, I didn't want to move. I sat still and stared at a wall for long stretches of time, and I lacked energy, drive, or ambition to move. My experience in stage 3 lasted about 6 months.
For some, this is the first time in their lives that they are not seeking distraction. They are facing and feeling the pain, and their mind and body begin to process the pain that they've buried away. They are so wrapped up in processing their pain that they have little energy and capacity for anything else. It's as if the outside world does not exist.
I've had super driven and successful people in this stage call themselves lazy because they didn't want to do their normal activity. They guilt and shame themselves to move forward, but that only increases the pain that needs to be processed. They want to rest, but they don't know how. They've never given themselves permission to pause, but in stage 3 they have no choice. They are going to pause whether they like it or not.
Stage 3 could last a few days a few years depending on how hot they've run and how massive the pivot they're making. For the first time, these people are facing their internal world. They now see that they have a mind, they have a body, and they are not that mind and body, they are simply the observer of it. Their identity is changing.
Their pain has caused them to see that thoughts and emotions happen, they are separate from them, and they don't need to react or control them to be safe. They are learning to be present with their insecurities and still be ok. They are uncomfortable, but they can begin to experience the relief of not needing to escape their internal chaos. For the first time, people in stage 3 learn to be ok with whatever thoughts and emotions show up - no distraction necessary.
This is the beginning of what The Buddha called a spiritual awakening. This is not an easy transition. Learning to be present with the agitation and chaos within is the most liberating thing a human being can experience, and it takes time, patience, and practice. When it's time to move forward, they will. Until that time, their mind and body will continue to seek rest. The hardest part of this stage is trusting in the perfect timing of it all.
Stage 4 - The Restart
In stage 4, people are taking what they've learned in stage 3 about being present with their thoughts and emotions, and they are reentering the world as a new human being. The key theme of stage 4 is rebirth, because it feels like we are learning how to live all over again.
In stage 1 people tried to control their mind and emotions by rearranging their external circumstances. They accumulated wealth to try to overcome money fears, and entered relationships to try to overcome loneliness, and they bought expensive materials to try to overcome inadequacy.
Stage 4 people now understand that the world is fine just as it is, doesn't need to be rearranged, and that they can heal the way they think and feel by observing the triggers that occur as they navigate life.
When our significant other leaves us we feel abandonment, and we get to resolve that pain - which was always there and just covered up by a relationship. When we lose our job, we get to heal our fear of going broke because that pain was always there and was just covered up with money. When we feel inferior because of someone else's success we get to heal the feeling of inferiority that was always there but was just covered up by maintaining friendships with people because they were at or below our level of success.
When we re-enter the world in stage 4, we split our attention 50% on our internal state on and 50% on our external state. Stage 4 people still feel off-balanced in the world because they haven't yet figured out how to live stably and safely in a world of triggers, upsets, and uncertainty.
What we're learning in stage 4 is that we can constantly reshape our mind and emotions to let go of worry, doubt, and fear instead of needing to resolve them through our circumstances. Up to this point we've spent most of our life giving up the only power we truly possess - the power to control ourselves in the face of anything that shows up. That makes creating new levels of wealth, success, and happiness even easier than our old, stage 1 approach.
When we see that we can continue to learn to master ourselves and increase the quality of our life, we are ready to step into the journey of mastery.
Stage 5 - Mastery
When we enter stage 5, it's not because we've achieved perfection, it's because we see that as we continue to reshape our internal state, our external state evolves accordingly. As we increase our personal authority, our security, adequacy, and significance increase as well. As we take complete ownership and accountability over our internal conditions, our external conditions evolve powerfully.
When you enter stage 5 it's not because you are "there" or have "arrived," You enter because you realize that there is no destination except to be on the path. The theme of stage 5 is practice, for the rest of your life will be spent sharpening your mind and emotions to increase the level of joy and fulfilment you experience.
In stage 5 you can look back and laugh at the perfection of all your pain, and you can gasp at how it all lined up to get you to the perfect place in your path - the place of knowing that only you control your level of joy, and that no circumstance has any power over you. When you are triggered or challenged, you simply feel the feeling, understand the cause of the trigger, and let go of identifying with the story behind it.
Through a constant letting go of old stories, beliefs, thought patterns, and feeling habits, you evolve and awaken daily. Through being on the path, you achieve mastery. Mastery is being on the path and trusting yourself to handle whatever challenges, obstacles, or triggers that might show up.
Mastery takes the rest of your life. Mastery is not for the timid, because you've got to be willing to face every feeling imaginable. I assure you that mastery feels like home because it ultimately brings you home.
Your home is to fully experience the spirit within, and first life needed to break your old identification with your thoughts or emotions, and then help you to stop running from worry, doubt, and fear. When you achieve mastery, you've proven you were willing to risk it all to achieve your final destiny...
Putting It All Together
According to this map of stages, where are you? Do you see a path forward? Do you believe there's more?
If you don't believe there's more, I get it. At one point I didn't either - until I experienced enough pain to make me find out there is so much more available.
If you believe there's more, I'd love to support you on your journey. Why do it alone? I can help, because I've experienced the depths of each and every phase. If you're open to support, reach out!
Regardless, I hope you flourish on your spiritual journey of life mastery!