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Monk Notes 20 - The Hidden Relationship That Impacts Everything

Relationships shape the person that we become.

With little effort, one can come to see the many ways we have been shaped by our family of origin: our values, our beliefs about the world, our beliefs about ourselves. But this work of formation continues throughout our lives. You can likely trace certain aspects of yourself to specific relationships, whether they be peers, mentors, bosses or adversaries.

What is a bit more difficult for us to see, because the relationship is so close to us, is the way that the relationship we hold with ourselves can shape our own path and vision for our life and for the world.

When we pay attention we notice that our inner dialogue actually consists of two parties. We have a near sense of “self” who we feel most akin to, and then we also have a sort of inner guide or critic - the voice that is stewarding and guiding our more direct “self”.

This second voice, the one within our heads continually reflecting and commenting on our life, ultimately has the most disproportionate impact on who we become. Most relationships we only engage in for certain seasons or some parts of the day, but this voice is always with us - telling us what to make of things, where to go, and who to associate with.

The work of being and becoming is a slow work, and progress can be difficult for us to measure. One of the most clear ways to measure how one is progressing is to pay attention to your relationship to this inner voice.

For many of us, this voice can be a rather bad friend. Nitpicky, volatile, holding grudges and berating often. Through the work of self-discovery and self growth this voice slowly changes into that of a great friend. The voice of a great friend is honest, but isn’t cruel. It holds accountability, but doesn’t ruminate on mistakes. It encourages, helps us imagine our potential, and move toward our true values.

Our inner guide or critic shapes us, but we can also shape it - and this may be our most consequential inner work.

All the best,

Steven Lawson

“The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

- Marcel Proust


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