by Endre Voros, Pathwise Instructor
Metanoia is an old Greek word, meaning “a transformative change of heart” or “a change in one’s way of life.” Metanoia implies reformation or atonement. While there are religious definitions for these terms, let’s stay with the psychological. Atonement simply means forgiveness, namely, the self-forgiveness necessary for any positive change. Reformation, psychologically refers to a reforming of oneself – which is not something to strive for directly but is likely received through metanoia.
How can these ideas be used practically?
Before I am willing to change – in my leadership or in my relationships – I must see that my patterned behavioral reactions are causing suffering for myself and others.
How can I evaluate if this is true?
Through long observation and scientific study, I can begin to see how my personality functions. In my own study I have found that while my personality has an upside – patterned and conditioned reactions that help me get where I want to go – it also has a downside. The downside of my personality is: it seeks control; it uses frustration, impatience and anger to minimize the underlying feeling of a lack of control/fear; it sees others as a threat and wants to make them feel small; it would rather make others feel anger and shame than sit with its own feelings of anger and shame; and it can feel inferior to others and the task at hand.
Seeing this helps me observe these preprogrammed and harmful reactions so that I am less likely to unconsciously play out these behaviors. It also helps me see the extent to which I avoid seeing these aspects of myself. Which begs the question: what else do I not want to see in myself?
The limits of our leadership and relationships seldom have to do with the lack in others; it has much more to do with our lack of seeing, in ourselves, the mistakes we are making. These mistakes, are perhaps, often tied to our patterned reactions; the ones we do not see.
The more I can see into myself, the more likely I am to be able to objectively “see” into others. As I develop this skill, the typical blocks and missteps simply fall away. Said another way, the more I see into my own fragmented ways of interacting, the more I can forgive others for doing the same. The more I see into how I hold onto power/control/superiority, the more I can see and accept that others do as well.
What would be possible in leadership, in our homes, in our country, if we had this ability to forgive, accept others and ourselves, and move together towards a transformative change of heart and a transformative change in the ways we live and work together?