The Four Stages of Personal Evolution- Becoming Worldview Aware

Wisdom could be considered as the ability to think beyond our own personal worldviews with an ability to consciously hold multiple perspectives or worldviews at once. This may sound quite logical but in reality, requires an evolved way of thinking and continued practice of self-awareness. The ability to see beyond the limitations of our own lens can only be exercised and practiced in relationship with Others (including Nature.). I am suggesting that there are four significant stages of a personal evolutionary or transformational process. These stages can be developed within the practice of deep Dialogue and time in Nature.

Our Worldview impacts how we see and interact with the world, events, situations and other people.  They influence our communication, decision-making and workplace cultures.  Most of this happens unconsciously.  When we become aware of the lens through which we experience the world we can consciously begin to explore individual and collective assumptions, beliefs and value systems with curiosity and non-judgment.  This opens the potential for more comprehensive approaches and solutions to emerge on a range of issues and opportunities, including those that might be mildly oppositional to completely divisive to seemingly unsolvable.

Self-understanding is the first stage of the evolutionary cycle, providing the foundations to then journey out and explore and incorporate the universe of other perspectives. Our relationship with Nature provides the most conducive place to begin this practice. When we begin to explore our own thinking and deeply observe our own mono-centric lens on the world we naturally go through a profound self-transformation. We are able to enter into a global perspective and hold very diverse worlds together and act with courage, empathy and wisdom. A “worldview intelligent” workplace is a creative inspiring and innovative place to be.

There are four phases I believe we move through on the way to becoming a worldview aware. These do not always occur in a linear order since we may sometimes enter a feeling of oneness or wholeness discussed in states three and four following a retreat or time alone in nature then return to our old selves shortly after.

I have deliberately excluded the word “change” out of the summary here as it suggests a forced energy that needs to be practiced in order to evolve from on experience to the next. The transformation I am suggesting emerges when we drop the want for change and simply learn to observe.

Stage 1- Radical encountering of difference of the Other (The Other refers to people or Nature)

In this first phase, we unlearn misinformation about each other and begin to know each other as we truly are. In this phase, we start to learn to listen deeply with Others and hear their perspective.  In this phase I often find it difficult to move beyond a tolerance of the Other but we practice listening when deeply whilst remaining aware of our own worldview. I listen but then return “home” to my own safe haven and perspective. I may find that this first encounter comes with a certain shock, with a realization of the Other, a different way of life, a different worldview, an alien Other that resists, interrupts, disrupts my settled patterns of interpretation. With this encounter, there is a new realization that my habits of mind cannot always make sense of the Others perspectives.

 Stage 2- Crossing over, letting go and entering the world of the Other

In phase two I begin to discern values in the Other’s story and worldview and may wish to adapt them into my own. I feel challenged to inquire, investigate, engage and enter this new world, to engage in critical-thinking. As I open my Self to this Other I realize that I need to stand back and distance myself from my former habits and patterns of minding the world. I begin to realize that this other world organizes and processes the world very differently from my way. I realize that I must learn new habits and ways of interpretation to make sense of this different world. I must learn a “new language.” Indeed, I must translate myself into a different form of life that sees the world differently. This involves a bracketing of my prejudices. I feel a new horizon opening.

Stage three- Inhabiting and experiencing the world of the Other

 If we are serious, persistent, and sensitive enough in dialogue, we may at times enter into phase three. Here we together begin to explore new areas of reality and new ways of acting, new insights into meaning—all of which neither of us had previously even been aware. We are brought face to face with new previously unknown dimensions of reality and possibility of action.

I begin to feel a new and deep empathy for my new habitat; I am keen to free myself to enter, experiment, learn and grow in this new way of being. I embrace critical-thinking and hold on to my prior views as much as I can, but I experience an excitement in discovering, in inhabiting a new and different worldview. I have a new profound realization of the Other, an alternative reality and form of life.

I realize this is not my place of home but start to question what is my home?  I experience a deep shift in my perspective.  Who am I?  What is my true identity?  Is this Other part of me?  Is my world transforming now?

Stage 4- Crossing back with expanded vision- Self returns home with new knowledge

 I now cross back, return, to my own world, bringing back new knowledge of how to think and act (critical-thinking), and may even wish to adopt/adapt some of it for myself. As a result of this encounter with the world of the Other, I now realize that there are other ways of understanding reality. I am therefore open to rethinking how I see myself, others and the world. I encounter my Self with a newly opened mind which now begins to challenge my former Identity. There is no return to my former unilateral way of thinking.

I now start to perceive deeply the oneness of all people and our unity with nature. I now begin to realize that there are many other worlds, other forms of life, other perspectives that surround me. I now open to a plurality of other worlds and perspectives and this irrevocably changes my sense of Self. I feel transformed to a deeper sense of relation and connection with my ecology. I feel more deeply rooted in this experience of relationality and community. I now see that my true identity is essentially connected with this expansive network of relations with Others.

This last stage can be the door to spiritual awakenings and the blossoming of wisdom.  We have developed both the mindful Dialogue programs and Wild Mind days in nature to support you through your own evolutionary journey.