Am I doing the right thing with my life?
Am I using my full potential?
Why can’t I make this big thing happen which I know I should be doing?

Summer holidays and the strangeness of these corona times can bring up questions like these for many people. For some resulting in real covid or summer blues. The break with our everyday rhythms makes us look with new eyes at whether we actually feel like going back to our normal lives.

And if we don’t ?

We suffer or make firm after-summer-resolutions.

For some people the resolutions work.
And for some they don’t and they find themselves repeating the cycle of questioning their lives endlessly without being (fully) able to create the results they long for.

Over the last year of doing structural consulting sessions with people, as part of the program I am doing to get certified as a consultant, I have met quite a lot of these people in (free) sessions.

They suffer from what Robert Fritz calls an existential ideal/reality conflict. I have had this structure in my life as well and it’s a true pain in the ass. Its speciality is paralysing a person into non-action or into losing motivation or into being all over the place with their change efforts or into blowing up the goal into something great sounding but way too vague to actually realise .

It goes something like this.

Existential ideal

A person has a desire for change, let’s say it’s on the level of work. This desire leads to a plan and to actions to make the change happen. So far so good. If this person is clear about their current reality and also clear about their vision, they are in a resolving structure, which means they have a realistic idea of the distance between here and there. That works magic in being able to create their desired end result.

But the clarity is often lacking in a person with an existential ideal, because this person has another, conflicting structure going on.

Let’s say they have at some point in their life for whatever reason unconsciously agreed with the concept that life is not a free ride but that they need to pay for their ticket by contributing something of value to the world. Or maybe they feel they have a job to do or a purpose or mission. Or an urge to be useful and make a difference. The keyword here is need. Thinking about your life in terms of mission or purpose or usefulness does not cause trouble in and of itself. But when it becomes something that we need, should, or have to do, then the trouble starts.

As soon as a person with this structural conflict in their life takes the action, or even thinks about the possible action to make the desired change happen, doubt creeps in. Is this the right choice? Is this really what I should be doing? Is this really what I truly want? Am I on the right track? Will this really do it for me? And with that we are back to the after summer-holidays or covid blues.

It’s the structure, not you

There is nothing wrong with people who have this going on. It’s the structure they are in, a structure in their thinking. Because by unwittingly buying into the the concept of needing to justify their existence, pay for their ride, do life right or else .. they have burdened their change effort with a double agenda. The new work project does not only have the purpose of being what it is designed to be but it also needs to prove they are worthy of life.

Can you imagine having desired for years to open up that private practise or yoga school or project for disadvantaged kids and not being able to make it happen? The yoga school cannot simply be a good yoga school where people love to come and where they love to teach but it also needs to show that they are doing their life right.
The private practise cannot simply be the place for their coaching skills to be of use to other people, while allowing them to do work they love which also pays the bills. No, it needs to do something else. It needs to make sure they fulfil their purpose so they can finally relax in knowing they are doing their job.
And the project for disadvantaged kids? Also that can’t simply be what it is, something good to share with the world. It has to to be the vehicle through which they can fulfil their potential. Only when they have used their full potential can they die content.

Their existential ideal whispers in their ear that life needs to be done a certain way in order to be able to know that their life matters. And their work project (in this example) needs to do it for them.

It’s not hard to imagine what happens when you have burdened your change effort with this extra agenda. It becomes crucially important to get it right. To be very sure about this choice. To pick the exact right thing. Especially when you are getting a bit older because then you have father time breathing in your neck as well: Do your purpose, before it’s too late! Hurry up, quick!

People who have this structural conflict going on in their life often have a true desire to help other people, or to do their bit in making the world a better place. But there is a huge difference between a desire and a need.

When a desire is unconsciously overlayered with a need, your free choice is out of reach. People can move mountains from free choice and true desire. And people can move mountains into their own way by wrapping the desire in a coat of need.

Now, how to work with this structure? How to free someone up to do what they want to do?

Two things.

Read Robert Fritz’ book Your Life as Art. It talks extensively about the concepts that can be in the way of creating our lives like a piece of art.

You can also book a session with me. They are free of charge due to the fact that I am in training. You get the insights about your topic of choice, I get to practise.

When I discover an existential ideal in a client that I work with, I ask questions that direct their brain towards really thinking through what has been going on. Until they see it. And then we look at the structure we have found from all possible angles. They need to become fluent in how it has showed up in their life and what it has caused. After going over the ground thoroughly people often realise, ‘wow, I can’t really justify my existence’ and ‘it’s not even true that I need to prove that my life matters’. They become firmly rooted in reality and can simply leave the structure behind. It might rear its ugly (but innocent) head from time to time because old habits die hard but if the person is solid in understanding their former conflicting structure, they will be able to leave the old concept behind again, and again if need to, and again. They turn into capable decision makers. Because, well, what’s the risk of making the wrong choice? And there is not even a wrong choice anymore but a learning trajectory which will be constantly updated by the changes in current reality. They become creators with free choice! The best thing ever 🙂

Other structural conflicts

There are more structural conflicts to find and to free yourself from. Some people suffer from imaginary fear for themselves or others. Or they have a social ideal going on, a fixed idea how things need to be going in our society. These persons grumble at bosses an co-workers and other car drivers and politicians or about unfairness. Or in the ‘spiritual’ version they might think that they have higher consciousness than others and they are not seen in their value because others are not at their level. Then there is the personal ideal. A very popular one, this one is. The conflict plays endless ping pong between an ideal about themselves like, ‘I am a professional’ and a hidden opinion about themselves like ‘I am a looser’, Last but not least there is the concept of mysteries explained where the person gets stuck in explanations about things that actually are of the realm of the unknowable.

I will write articles about all these structures. Coming up in the following weeks and months. Why don’t you go and read Roberts book in the meantime 😉 (no, I don’t get any commission. it’s just that good) or pinge me an email to book a session. Or read more about these sessions here.

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