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In this article, I want to share my 10 favorite “Top Insights” of 2021 in no particular order.
1. Human consciousness evolves through a set of predictable stages, gradually embracing greater levels of complexity and awareness.
Developmental stage theories such as Susan Cook Grueter’s Ego development theory help us understand how human consciousness evolves over time. While developmental stage theories are merely maps and generalizations they are still useful tools for understanding both ourselves and others better.
“Insights cannot be taught or learned, but the consciousness that gives rise to insight can be developed.” – Robert Kegan
Check out my podcast with Susan Cook-Greuter where we dive deeper into this topic.
2. Depression and anxiety are amplifications of the discontent all humans experience.
Some humans suffer more than others but all humans suffer.
People who tend to deny this are those who keep themselves constantly busy. This works until our stimulus is cut off and we find ourselves embraced by silence. It is from this place of quiet that dissatisfactoriness loves to arise and make itself blatantly evident. This is why most meditators rather quickly realize the first truth the buddha taught; life is suffering.
If you have experienced relatively mild suffering thus far in your life don’t take it for granted. Mental health should be a priority for all as we never know how our life experience can change.
If you are suffering (perhaps greatly) understand that there is a way out of this suffering.
“Depression is your body saying “Fuck you, I don’t want to be this character anymore.” – Jim Carey
Check out my article What is Depression? and the below clip from my podcast with Awakening teacher Angelo Dillulo to go deeper on this topic.
3. Spirituality is an epistemic stance that is akin to intellectual honesty – an unrelenting rigorous search for truth and an unwillingness to lie to oneself.
Genuine spirituality is concerned with practice, not theory. It is not about believing; it is about knowing which can only come from admitting that we don’t know.
Check out “Spirituality and Intellectual Honesty” by philosopher Thomas Metzinger to go deeper on this topic.
4. We tend to associate trauma with horrific events such as rape or violence but trauma can also manifest due to emotional abuse or lack of attunement between child and caregiver.
While there are varying degrees of trauma all of us have experienced it at some level. The transpersonal psychologist Stanislav Grof has even said that the natural process of birth can be a traumatic experience for some infants.
Check out my article on Understanding and Healing Trauma for a deep dive on this topic.
5. Circling is a relational practice that allows us to cut through small talk and have authentic and meaningful conversations.
If you’re tired of superficial sugarcoated small talk then circling is your pathway to transcend it. Circling is like psychedelics; you can learn about it but to truly understand what it is you have to experience it.
Until you get a chance to try it check out my article What is Circling?
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw
6. Psychotherapy is a process of improving communication.
We normally understand communication as something we do with others, but all communication begins within ourselves. As our inner communication breaks down, neuroses emerge and hurt our ability to communicate and relate with others.
Through therapy, we improve communication within our psyches. Once this is accomplished, we find that we can communicate more effectively with others. As our communication improves, our relationships become increasingly therapeutic.
Check out my article What is Psychotherapy and how does it work to transform you? to dive deeper into this topic.
7. We can locate our shadows in the opposite of our top values.
Many self-help and personal growth teachings express the importance of locating our top values. Yet we can often learn even more about ourselves by locating their opposites.
For example, say one of your top values is discipline. The opposite of discipline is something like laziness or permissiveness. We are likely to deny these opposite qualities within ourselves and be triggered by those who exhibit them.
To dive deeper into this topic check out my article How to Illuminate and Integrate your Shadow
8. The Ego (who you think you are) is an illusion.
This insight is no easy feat to explain. Yet, I take my best shot at it in my article What is the Ego? Seeing through the illusion
You can also check out the podcast I did with professor Chris Niebauer where we discuss this topic in depth.
9. The biggest misconception our society has about addiction is that a drug alone will cause it.
If this was the case then everyone who tried a drug would be addicted. Yet the number of people who experiment with drugs is much greater than those who become addicted to them.
Dive deeper into this topic with my article The Truth About Addiction and Recovery
10. Emotions that aren’t processed become trapped in the body.
Emotions can only be escaped temporarily. Any emotions we don’t process become stored in the body. The incessant mental chatter we experience is often our body reminding us that we have emotions to process.
Check out my podcast with emotion expert Douglas Tataryn where we dive deep into this topic.
Until next year my friends.