Self-Inquiry: Re-Introduction of Self in the Ever-Evolving Mirror of Consciousness in Transformative Studies
Kelsey Sweet, PhD Candidate
California Institute of Integral Studies
Transformative Studies Department
Introduction to Transformative Studies
Alfonso Montuouri and Lesley Jackson
October 7, 2019
If the MBTI is the foundation for personality analysis in the Transformative Studies Department of CIIS, then the change in results is evidence that personal transformation occurred as a result of the program and rigorous self-creation through self-care. INFJ morphs into an INFP in this paper. It is a subtle shift, but one that has made the world of difference in this sweet little existence I call life. My initial two tests over a period of fifteen years resulted in the MBTI profile of INFJ, whereas my resent results post-graduate level studies are INFP, demonstrating the influence of conscious self-development through self-transformation. Judging has been replaced by Perceiving, and a more resilient experience of being has unfolded.
Simply, through the lens of the MBTI, I can understand myself to be Introverted, iNtutive, Feeling and Perceiving. With conscious self-development through the transformative process, I have learned to better manage my stress and maintain a sense of wellbeing. I have learned that with dedication to self-creation and self-care, I have the capacity to overcome adversity in an influential way. The essential aspects of self-care involve balancing the mind-body-spirit connections and putting holistic health at the top of my priorities. Self-care practices such as meditation, a well-balanced diet, exercise and lots of water give a peaceful foundation for exploring and expression through creative practice to transform energy and live my best life. I make sure to journal, dance and sing on a regular basis to manage my stress levels and gain a sense of wellbeing.
Both the INFJ and INFP are rare personality types with the difference being an obsessive-compulsive nature for order versus delight in a tolerance for ambiguity. As McNamara points out in the Elegant Self, “An intentional, ongoing focus on your own development of mind is a powerful remedy and necessity for your overall well-being,” (28). Being aware of this personality profile gives a foundation for individualized care. When we recognize the factors preventing a sense of well-being, we can become more conscious of the traits that shape our personality and tailor them to continuously better our lives. When we can understand ourselves and continue to grow, it becomes easier to address our needs and desires in a healthy, holistic manner that is an integral approach self-creation.
In previous studies, I had made comparisons between the MBTI and other personality profiles such as the Enneagram and astrology. They all reinforced similar aspects of personality and gave insight into what I needed to feel well. During this course and the beginning of my studies thus far, I have also explored my results of the Human Design and seek to compare the two briefly. As my Human Design suggests, I am a Manifestor with the Strategy to Inform and the Inner Authority of Emotion. The results parallel the MBTI and others. These tools have helped to create a basis for understanding the dimensions of personality, carefully discerning the similarities and trimming away the pieces that no longer resonate with a continued elevation in vibration.
Like the MBTI, the Human Design reinforces my intuitive nature as the "superhero response channel," (44-26/spleen-heart), that allows one to intuitively act with purpose in a moment's notice. And like the Feeling component of the MBTI, the “channel of versatility" (35-36/throat-emotions) tends to look for new experiences but may manifest challenges when emotions are unclear. I understand I am an emotional and intuitive person where self-creation is based on my relationship to transformation and society, and that self-care includes the mind-body-spirit relationship as a critical element to my sense of wellbeing. I need time and space to be alone and process the energetic and emotional states of others, otherwise I become overwhelmed and lose sight of who I really am.
Lesley Jackson points out that, “Development of a mindset that promotes health and capacities to holistically care for the self can be explored and developed through such questions as “Who am I?” “What do I believe?” and “How do I feel?”” (159). If we fail to ask questions of ourselves and our relationship to those outside us, we cannot say that we self-reflect. How we address these questions is met with many answers. “The capacity to address assumptions as a means to manage health is considered through the utilization of activities and tools of inquiry through such approaches as cognitive behavioral strategies, contemplative practices, relaxation techniques, and stress management,” (Jackson, 2017). As we transform, so do the tools that provide us access to solutions.
When it comes to self-care, I have learned it takes an integral approach to healing and sometimes takes many approaches to feel well. However, the underlying constant that has given me the greatest sense of wellbeing is journaling. Jackson states, “Journaling as a form of reflective and contemplative writing allows students to integrate theory and practice, thus encouraging them to align learning with personal experience,” (155). Writing down the events and responses in my life throughout my life has been a cathartic practice. I began journaling in elementary school and made it a goal several years ago to fill at least one book every year. When I do not journal, I notice my ability to navigate stress is hampered.
Writing for me is the bridge between the mental/spiritual and physical bodies. Anything that exerts my body is a platform for me to alchemize energy. I can take the negative energies and transform them through my body so that I express positive energy instead. Anytime I neglect to consciously transform that energy through my body, I find that I suffer in managing the practical manners of life, such as finances and time management. Jackson points out, “Cognitive behavioral strategies focus on identifying and changing maladaptive thinking such as perfectionism and overgeneralization, which can create anxiety and other negative states of mind,” (159). Thinking about, or being conscious of, that energetic shift by engaging the behaviors of the physical body connects me to spirit, strengthening my sense of wellbeing.
The conscious aspect of self-care lends itself to creating a self that gives us a sense of wellbeing. Many of our early childhood experiences are not within our control, but as development shifts into the adult stages of life, Kegan’s model of adult development as presented by McNamara shows us that very few people reach the self-transforming mind. (2016)
This period of life in which conscious control over personal development has shifted into adulthood is difficult. Transformation is uncomfortable and full of uncertainty. Montuouri (2014) highlights how humans tend to resist change and seek out balance and predictability. “In fact, every human order also seems to bring with it resistance, rejection, disorder, creativity, and constraints,” (4). These boundaries provide us space to exist within and they ever challenge our ideas of self. To take conscious control over our self-creation takes effort and a willingness to experience discomfort in this uncertainty and ambiguity.
When the results are open to ambiguity, the potential for infinite creation emerges. As Montuouri explains “...it is essential to go beyond the grand and seductive Either/Or, and find another way, which recognizes the inevitability of uncertainty and limitation of human knowledge precisely in order to act responsibly rather than in a closedminded way,” (7). Wellness for all can be achieved if we generate integral solutions and allow ourselves the creativity to imagine a self and society that experience the ultimate form of wellbeing. In adult development, if we aspire toward Self-Transformation, the world would be a more holistic place.
From Elegant Self:
Development, as you will soon see, likely plays an important role in improving creativity and innovation. Measures of critical thinking often grow as development increases. Mental ﬂexibility, attunement to self and others, leadership performance and other important measures are all likely positively impacted by development. Even psychological well-being may be positively impacted by development… / Failure to understand and participate with adult development is a costly mistake that shows up in challenges in marriage, parenting, employment, education, leadership and the responsible use of material and techno-economic resources. These distortions and dangers are, in many cases, functioning on a global scale. (30)
What I have discovered throughout the transformative process is that the only way to lead, teach and inspire is by example. The importance of creating a better self lends itself to better communities; so that when we can recover our lost selves, our gained knowledge of self-awareness and transformation can be transferred externally. “Through the principles of self-creation and self-care, higher education professionals have the opportunity to help students explore their own capacity and the critical nature of their role in constructing knowledge and dealing with change.” (Jackson, 2017). Through lived experience, we can help better guide those with less knowledge and empathize with their own transformation so that they may find their own meaning to life and co-create a better world.
Jackson, L. (2017). The Implications of Self-Creation and Self-Care in Higher Education: A
McNamara, R. (2016). The elegant self. Boulder: Performance Integral.
Montuori, A. (2014). Un choc des mentalities: Incertitude, créativité et complexité en temps de crise. (A clash of mentalities. Uncertainty, creativity and complexity in a time of crisis. Communications. 95(2), 179-198.
Take the personality test: https://www.idrlabs.com/test.php (Links to an external site.) For additional insight check-out: https://www.idrlabs.com/articles.php (Links to an external site.)
HUMAN DESIGN: http://www.humandesign.net (Links to an external site.)