USING INTEGRAL THOUGHT TO EVALUATE AND MAKE HEALTHY PERSONAL AND COLLECTIVE LIFE
According to Integral Thought we all develop from birth through stages or levels to our current level. As we leave one to move to the next, we should be integrating the former level into the new one. So, if we are now at the postmodern level, we have already been through archaic, tribal, individualist/egocentric, traditional, and modern. At our current level, we should be able to look at how we see and live our lives and ask how we have managed to integrate the former levels into our current way of seeing/valuing/practicing life. But, of course, we do not always make those transitions in a healthy way which can leave us making hurtful responses.
I would suggest that we take an honest look at our internal life and ask whether we have made a healthy place for the needs and values of all the levels we have been through. Using the first archaic level as an example (the level where the focus is on food, personal care, and safety) what place do those needs now have in our lives? I would suggest we do a simple rating scale from 1 to 5. A rating of “1” would signify that we have repressed those needs and values so they are not consciously part of our everyday thoughts while a rating of “5” would signify that we are obsessed with those basic needs so that the needs of all successive levels are obliterated. A rating of “3” then would be the desired healthy response where we acknowledge the necessity of survival needs while not allowing those needs to overpower others. A rating of “2” would be to acknowledge that sometimes we repress those basic needs and a rating of “4” would indicate that usually or too often we focus our attention on those archaic needs. Thus, we have a rating scale for how well we have integrating former levels/stages of development. 1 – none, 2 – sometimes, 3 – healthy, 4 – usually, and 5 – always.
With that simple scale we can reflect on and evaluate our own lives. Do we have a healthy place in our lives for those basic survival needs? Do we have a small group of individuals with whom we identify and for whom we would sacrifice? Are we able to acknowledge our own value just because we are? Have we found a role to play in a committed relationship and in work where we feel we are contributing to the well-being of everyone? How about looking at life in an objective way; have we found a healthy way to use objective analysis? Finally, have we found a way to integrate into our way of living a recognition that a person’s culture and environment is a powerful influence on the way we/they see/value our/their lives?
How would you rate yourself at integrating each of those levels? If there are “1s” or “5s” at any of the levels, you probably need professional help. But if there are “2s” or “4s”, you may want to go back to the time/age in your life when you went through that stage or level. Try to remember events that stand out to you, especially if you felt hurt by them. Use that 3-2-1 process on them of treating each event as an object to be analyzed in every way you can (in 3rd person mode), then have a 2nd person conversation with it, allowing it to ask you questions, before you finally own it as part of who you are. Using this process many times with every “2” and “4”, you can gain a healthier self. You can find yourself at the Integral level.
While using the above practice to evaluate and improve the healthiness of our individual lives, we can also use the procedure to evaluate our collective lives. Take one of the groups in which you participate and to whom you might go for help in knowing what to believe or how to behave. Ask yourself whether they promote ideas and practices that support the needs and values coming out of all the earlier levels. How would you rate them on having integrated all the previous levels into their current views and ways? The next time you participate with that group are there questions you need to raise or are there things you need to say in order to make that culture healthier?
Not only does your culture and your social systems influence you, but you have a responsibility to encourage them to be more healthy and inclusive.