Have you ever watched ‘The Sound of Music’? I hadn’t. Until today. I had sat down to write a blog post and got completely absorbed in this wonderful film which, for years, I had avoided because I thought it would be a predictable Hollywood-esque love story with no depth…
One moment of the film touched me in particular: Maria runs back to the abbey to escape the conflict developing in her life and Sister Abbess is giving her some advice about right and wrong, choosing God or love:
“These walls were not meant to shut out problems; you have to face them. You have to live the life you were born to live”.
That sense of ‘living the life you were born to live’ runs deep in our human psyche. It resounds with all of us, on some level; even if that means that we ferociously deny it or scoff at the idea. As I wrote in my previous post, from the depths of our soul we long to connect with our true self and we hunger to find pleasure, meaning, satisfaction and a sense of connection in our life.
Yet many of us experience pain rather than pleasure, frustration not satisfaction, despair as opposed to meaning and alienation not connection. Nevertheless, all of us in this existence can truly live the life we were born to live and enjoy the bliss and joy of living.
This is the goal of all of the effective personal development systems; from yoga to psychotherapy. In Pesso Boyden therapy (PBSP) we have a common sense, accessible model that helps us to understand how people act and behave as they strive to improve their lives. Developed through five decades of working with people in groups, coupled with in-depth study of the psychology of human development, PBSP helps us to understand and change the ways we have learned to limit our lives.
One of the most important concepts in PBSP is the ‘Five Life Tasks’: these form our basic programming as human beings, almost like genetic drivers, which when attended to and met during our life, lead to the good life.
The Five Life Tasks
Here is a short summary of this important underlying concept which, albeit in a different language, applies as much to yogic and other systems as it does to PBSP:
Satisfaction of basic needs
The basic needs are for: having a rightful sense of place in the world; being nurtured so that we feel fully parented and alive inside; a sense of support that gives us a feeling of security and groundedness: protection to shield us from danger, give us an inner sense of power and control and help us define ourselves; and have a sense of limits, so that we know our own power is not uncontrollable, omnipotent or infinite so that we can be free and spontaneous as an adult without anxiety or a fear of not being in control. When basic needs are satisfied at the appropriate age, by the appropriate kinship figures we feel alive, secure, grounded and are comfortable both with our own power and our vulnerability.
Integration and alignment of the polarities of being
We are created by seeming opposites: the female egg and gene pool of our mother and the male sperm and gene pool of our father. Parents play a vital role in unifying our inner life by loving and accepting each other and by accepting all parts of us. If our parents don’t like each other and/or their forebears, we are likely to be in conflict with those aspects of them we find in ourselves. Such polarities may express themselves in being ‘lopsided’ in our sense of rational/intellectual vs intuitive or creative; not integrating fully both feminine vs masculine aspects of self; imbalances in either giving (the disease to please) or receiving (receptivity vs reactivity); problems integrating power vs vulnerability with deficits showing as a strong sense of shame; issues with integrating maleness vs femaleness.
Development and expansion of consciousness
The development of consciousness leads toward the creation of meaning (and as humans we are meaning-making machines!) and is a fundamental goal of human activity. From as early as when we are in the womb, our behavioural interaction with the outer world of people, objects and events registers on our nervous system and is converted into the inner world of consciousness, experience, concepts, meanings, beliefs and thoughts. However for many of us, much of this in outside of our conscious awareness, hence we have little sense of understanding it or being in control. Read my What the Body Knows article for more explanation.
Development of the ‘pilot’
Good parenting develops the pilot, by this we mean the highest level of our neural assembly (the pre-frontal cortex) , which is the highest level of consciousness and control which humans are capable of exercising. The part that is in ‘charge’ which makes choices and implements those choices in our best interest. It is also the ‘witness mind’ that part of consciousness and experience that has perspective on our experiential states (an objective distance) and, at the same time, lives those states (rather than being dissociated).
To become who we truly are
Each one of us, on some level, feels a push to become who we are and follow our inner calling. To validate and cultivate our own uniqueness and true potentiality in life and to make our own unique, personal contribution to evolution of existence. We innately sense this drive to self-realisation or self-actualisation. In many ways, those parts of us that have somehow been blocked or repressed from this ‘pushing’ force of genetic realisation, go underground and become our phobias, compulsions, bodily symptoms or dis-eases, fantasies, addictions etc.
These tasks are far more likely to have been met in those who have been reared by and had their complex developmental needs met at every stage by sensitive and ‘good enough’ parents. However, given the sheer complexity and long period of dependency that we spend as children or immature adults, this is an unlikely achievement for most of us. Think of it this way: as human beings we spend up to 30 per cent of our life dependent (most of us don’t leave home or a surrogate home (i.e. university) until our early 20s), whereas throughout the rest of the animal kingdom only one per cent of their life is spent as dependent. This is mostly dictated by the longer time it takes the human triune brain to develop – our brains are not fully developed until our late teens/early 20s.
So any personal development system that focuses on attending to completing the five Life Tasks, will help us to live a better, more joyous and fulfilling life and be the best human being we can be. PBSP is a systematic and highly respectful therapy which helps clients become aware of their internal maps or blueprints for living. Memory is essential to our living a good life, yet some memories keep us entangled in a disempowering history. Unmet needs from the past create problems when we transfer them onto people in the present. And the quality of life in the present can be diminished by the very strategies and defences that helped us survive difficult events in the past.
The PBSP approach utilises the brain’s capacity for neuroplasticity to provide individuals with new, ‘symbolic memories,’ embedded in the here-and-now experience of their PBSP session (called ‘a structure’).
These alternative memories meet the client’s innate genetic expectations of being fully seen and understood. The effect is to lessen the power of trauma or of unmet developmental needs to disrupt present-day life. People can become more fully who they truly are, and consequently experience more pleasure, satisfaction, meaning and connectedness with others in daily life.
For more about PBSP and its approach to helping you live the life you were born to live, contact me.