I have to thank Dan Collinson a fellow positive psychology practitioner for helping cultivate and inspire this seed thought – ‘is less able, more able’.
The image I chose for this piece is one I captured whilst in China. To me, this speaks of individuality and originality – that we each have our own fingerprint and script. Yet so often this is not cherished as such but critically judged.
“Am I an original or copy?”
How quickly we judge. Anything that is different, we may feel compelled to label and assess. The part of us that instinctually judges – is the self to which we default. Anxiety necessitates assessment. The work of this aspect is to quickly and rapidly evaluate – in order to react – fight, flight or freeze. I often feel shame associated with this aspect of my own being for given ultimate reign – I may quickly judge difference to be negative, devalued and turn away from others. This aspect aspires to keep us safe but often at a cost of bias through its instinctual assessment and critique. This realisation is of interest for anyone considering the nature of prejudice? How much control do we actually have against our instinctual need to assess others and their difference – in order that we remain ahead, safe and surviving?
We speak sometimes of prejudice as if all judgment is under conscious control and reason. As we become more anxious, our band width of perception narrows and we default to a self that has a characteristic instinctual judge – whose middle name is prejudice. To manage prejudice, we need first to be able to know the presence and depth of our instinctual and prejudicial nature.
But let me ask a question – what if we could see everyone from a different standpoint – as a soul?
What do we mean by soul you may ask? I am no owner of such a definition – but from my own lived experience it is the presence of my original essence that longs to live life free from any should, must or aught. In other words, to be soulful is to permit one’s own unique creative originality without condition. When we touch soul in this way – and think about essence – we realise that difference is ubiquitous – no two people are exactly the same – difference quite literally is in our is in fingerprint.
Now we might think of the self to which we default as our mask, then the soul; may more fully represent the whole aspect of our being – that which longs to be born and to come into existence through our lives.
We need to be careful, even in the above discernment – for our ‘mask’ is one aspect of who we are and not to be judged or rejected but included in our wholeness – a conscious and vital facet of a soul.
Now when we look at a person as a soul – difference becomes our hall mark, distinction and celebration. Even though from the platform of our default self there is prejudice and judgement, from the whole stage and presence of soul – there is just unconditional positive regard. You see the soul-maker becomes such only through the learned acceptance and inclusion of every aspect of who we are.
Soul has the potential to make judgment in the form of choice, so will never instinctually do so – for awareness of the soul gives us the chance to respond to our driven nature. To be response-able.
Through the eyes of soul – difference is your creative edge and distinction. Whereas the self to which we default may reactively judge ability and disability – the soul sees only soul in all its perfect imperfection. Through this vision we can take a further step. Who we might judge to be less able, in soul terms, is seen to be more-able. The eye of the soul sees no division, nor does it devalue – more encompasses, appreciates and integrates.
When I look at who society may judge to be less able through the eye of the soul – what we see is less a division and more an equality – a unique and creative compensation. One example, I recall meeting a blind man recently, who could sense way beyond my perceptions. The gift maybe of having no eyes or maybe more correctly developing the eye of the soul.
This concept centrally informs current debate on Second Wave Positive Psychology. For what this reflects is less new thinking and more the practice of a new way of seeing. This practice sits on the positive psychology practitioner developing a new centre of awareness – a new way of being – that places quality – ‘who and how we are’, before quantity ‘what we do’, context before content. For when we see from the soul – we constellate not only unconditional positive regard but patience, compassion, love and wisdom. I truly believe that second wave positive psychology is inviting us to see the world from a new centre of awareness – to take our place on a new platform, from within. The stage may be set in positive psychology for another evolution – but the stage is not out there but primarily within.
I have a friend Gordon Symons who introduced me to a beautiful word – ‘Soulocracy’ – to describe a group of people intent and aspiring to work with soul. When we come together as a collective, choosing this new centre from which to view, we compound the qualities of the soul and its vision so the world around looks very different. Our lens changes and our bandwidth of perception expands and accommodates. What one aspect of us may instinctually judge to be less – becomes something more. From here, less is in essence, more – if and when we are able to embrace our unique original creativity and presence.
This holds prospect for a new political movement. Less division and devaluing – rapidity of judgment and assertion – more honouring, building together – appreciative and creative of each other and all – independent of political party. Fundamentally relational rather than dispassionate, detached and singular. More collaborate, less combative.
Imagine being able to turn such eyes in on yourself – to see all difference unconditionally. How we would heal ourselves and permit this prospect for others.
This writing is not to reject our critical faculty. More to soothe and cherish. I am am a trained scientist it has served me well throughout my career. This is more a call to make judgement a natural choice not a compulsive necessity in support of our second wave thinking.
Consider what we might learn from those we might judge to be less able? What gifts we might have once overlooked and turned away from?
May soul be our looking glass.
About the Author: Andrew Machon PhD, MA, MCC has dedicated his life to enabling others to change for the better. He has worked for over 3 decades in major international business as an executive business coach, coach trainer and experienced coaching supervisor. He is a trained and qualified psychotherapist and a visiting lecturer in positive psychology to New Bucks University. Andrew’s life long aspiration is to share insights into the real nature of development and mastery.
‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’