Knowing others is wisdom. Knowing yourself is enlightenment." - Lao Tzu
One of the keys to this kind of personal growth work is understanding who you are, how you operate, what your tendencies are, and what motivates you. There are myriad tools for this out there and I plan to look at a few of the more impactful ones I have come across. I am sucker for these things. I take personality quizzes every chance I get, even the "fluff" ones. I find them interesting, entertaining, and in some cases, enlightening.
Knowing this, my girlfriend - and fellow personality type investigator devotee - bought me a set of sessions with a professional hand analyst. What does that mean?
Using a prints of my entire hand, with extra prints of my fingertips (think fingerprinting for official records, identification, etc.), Ms. Roberta Coker can delve into the areas a person needs to focus on to find greater fulfillment. As she writes on her web site:
“Five months before you were born, your fingerprints are permanently formed. In that, they identify your Life Purpose – who you came here to be, what you came here to do, the path of your greatest fulfillment. They also tell us your Life Lesson – the work you came here to get done, the challenges that you came here to face, the core issues and foundational fears that keep you from achieving your Life purpose!”
Roberta sent me a packet in the mail complete with water-soluble back ink, a mini roller and sheets of printer paper. Creating the prints was tricky, messy, and humorous, and in the end, I had some mighty fine prints on my hands.
Three weeks later I had my first session with Roberta. She recorded the phone calls and eventually sent them on cassette tapes for future reference. My second and third sessions followed in 2-week increments. Because I am no stranger to personal growth work, I had an inkling what she might say. However, some insights she offered were eye opening for both their accuracy and the challenge they pose in terms of learning, growth, and finding fulfillment.
Without going into too much detail - some of you may want to try this for yourself and the more of a blank slate you can be going in to this, the better - here are a few of the more poignant insights.
To begin, I apparently have four major fears in life I must work through:
1 – That asking for what I need in any given moment will lead to chaos.
2 – That stating how I am feeling will lead to some degree of annihilation.
3 – That taking the time to ask for what I want will result in my looking stupid.
4 – That stating what I need or want will elicit a bad reaction.
Very accurate. The thought of those scenarios fills me with dread, especially the last two. Call them my personal four horsemen. They are foundational to the fear I have felt since before this process started. There is no easy way to hide the large gamble I have taken. If it goes well, great. If it goes poorly, all four of those will negative outcomes will materialize. But apparently I have to risk them in order to find what I am looking for.
That was just the first session. The second was equally revealing. We spent a lot of time focused on the idea of me being a "healer." Not in the medical sense, but rather the idea that the more I am willing to be vulnerable (see the above four fears), the more others around me will be willing to do the same, which is ultimately healing for themselves. In short, lead by example. But how?
I suppose writing and publishing about the process will help put them on the line. Writing publicly about this might be an invitation to mockery and derision. After all, this can be a harsh world of jackals waiting to pounce at the first sign of emotional vulnerability. I learned that early on in grade school where I was ridiculed for many things, not the least of which was my mom being one of the school's teachers. In addition, academic success is not typically rewarded with social approval. The geeks and the cool kids seldom walk on the same side of the street.
During the third and final introductory session, we spent a lot of time on the idea that I am too "other focused." This makes sense. Every message I have received in life has been around service to others, sacrificing, and not being selfish. For all of the outward energy I expend, there is a dearth of it spent on myself or my emotional needs. And just as I would have considered any "me time" detrimental, it appears my "other-ness" has been just that. The obvious corollary to this is the difficulty of owning my part in those moments when I stick my foot in my mouth (not uncommon), or do something that upsets someone.
To address this imbalance, I have to be willing to spend more time "in my feelings." Roberta noticed a lack of curved lines in my prints, which apparently indicates a propensity for being in my head and expecting to "logic" my way through everything. Those of you who have spent time with me will immediately recognize the accuracy in this. In addition, I apparently spread myself too thin and get stuck in a perpetual cycle of, "I gotta (insert task here), I gotta (insert task here), ad nauseam." Getting out of that cycle should be as easy as kissing my own elbow. (Go ahead, try it.)
So now you and I both know a bit more about myself. I not fully sure how to use all of this insight going forward but it certainly gives me myriad lenses through which to filter my experience. That part will be easy to think about. How I feel about it all is apparently an entirely different matter.