The concept of working from our centre means we are able to respond to events and people from our true self. When we make decisions or communicate from our centre there is a quality to our words and deeds that is different from when we don’t. The word ‘centre’ describes the alignment between head, heart and body. When the answers to “what am I thinking”; “what am I feeling”; and “what am I sensing in my body” feel coherent and aligned then we are coming from our centre. It is a place of knowing rather than thinking. It is self-management and personal mastery in action.
Our centre is not dominated by our ego. The ego is entirely head based. Traditionally we have been taught to think through things and be rational. This is useful for managing our mental processes. However, it doesn’t include the emotional or sensory input that accompanies everything we do. This preference for using our cognitive capability over the other two is probably the single biggest cause of conflict in our lives.
Our thoughts are products of our interpretations and opinions. They can be very useful, and they can be the exact opposite. A thought like “I am capable” supports my action choices positively. A thought like “I’m better than you” distracts me from personal mastery and can trip me up when I am communicating or taking action. The issue is that we create a thought unconsciously and then act on it as if it were true, when there is no evidence to support that. The key to managing our thoughts and using them as a support to our personal mastery is awareness because we cannot change what we are not aware of.
If I believe “I am better than you” it will influence my behaviour towards you. I will show up as superior, patronising or even arrogant. This is egotistic behaviour. When I display these attributes, it will not motivate inspired action or spontaneous admiration from others. If I am aware of my need to position myself as better that you I immediately create a space for change. We expand our awareness in two key ways: through reflection and seeking feedback. These activities give us perspectives that were not previously available to us. New perspectives create the potential for new thoughts.
Let’s look at the thought “I’m better than you” from an emotional perspective. This thought expresses superiority however the emotional basis of it points to a low self-worth. If I believe the thought that ‘I am better than you’ it becomes apparent that my emotional system is not in agreement. In fact the opposite is possibly true; my emotional centre is confronted by feeling less worthy than you and my thinking system is trying to act against this emotional signal. This is a misalignment. Any communication or action made from this perspective will not be experienced as authentic.
If we look at these two states: the thinking state that says “I’m better than you”; and the emotional state that holds “I am not feeling worthy,” it becomes clear that neither is likely to be entirely true. “I’m better than you” as a non-specific generalisation is a defence mechanism generated by the ego and feeling unworthy is an emotional interpretation that has no real evidence to support it. And I have often encountered people acting out these two states and wondering why the outcome they seek from their actions is not the one they get.
Now add to this, the sensing capability within our body. Our body filters our experiences continuously. If we are not aware, this misalignment shows up as various body postures and actions. If I think ‘I am better than you,’ I am likely to take up physical space: I may stand when I speak so that I can be seen; I will probably speak loudly and more than anyone else in the room. The emotional context of low self worth means I will be checking how everyone is receiving my contribution; I need to be sure they can see me, hear me, and agree with me. If they do not agree with me, I also have a thinking tactic of managing that discomfort which further reinforces the view that ‘I am better than you.’ Our body is effectively a mirror to the world. It reveals our coherence or our misalignment.
We come back to our centre by re-aligning these three important areas. Theoretically, you can implement a change in the thoughts, emotions, or the body. In my experience as a coach it is not as easy as it sounds. We often hold thoughts and emotions very tightly so it is more difficult to shift them. I find the best results come from working through our body, to find a more light-hearted way to create awareness.
In our example we used the ‘I’m better than you’ thought, which is expressed as the emotion of feeling less worthy and the body posture that shows up as arrogant. There is alignment between the body and the thought; however the original thought is not true. ‘I’m better than you’ is too general and non-specific to ever be true. Feeling less worthy is fundamental to the problem, because the thought and the body alignment act to hide this emotional state. And ‘I’m less worthy’ is also too general and non-specific to be true in the emotional context.
A simple way to create alignment would be to find the place you would like to be. Pick a more resourceful emotional state like ‘I feel worthy’. Now ask yourself the question, ‘How would a worthy person enter the room or begin the conversation?’ Their body posture would not appear arrogant, or loud, or needing attention. It would express being present, confident and open. Explore what this body posture looks and feels like for you. Practice it in the mirror. Once your body moves into the posture, the emotional position of worthiness will begin to feel real. Now notice what you are thinking. Your thoughts begin to shift as well. Your need to feel ‘better than’ begins to shift and you will be able to see the other person’s value as well as your own. Now you are in your centre because your head, heart and body are communicating coherently. This coherence creates the foundation for effective self-management and personal mastery.