Table of Contents
Rekindle your Inner Spirit © Martyn Carruthers
Do you enjoy an emotionally satisfying life?
Can you express love and be kind? Can you share happiness?
Ultimately, man should not ask for the meaning of his life, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. Each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.
Does Life Make Sense?
In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.
It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.
We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
My meaning of life or life purpose or sense of life has changed many times. In particular, my sense of life changed as I gained experience and maturity by creating and maintaining healthy relationships.
If you are physically starving, you may find a practical meaning of life in a potato. If you are in love, you may find a sweet meaning of life in your first home together. Some people find financial meaning of life in strategic tax-deductible gifts to a charity.
As my happiness and well-being seemed to require that I adopt or create a life philosophy, I am alert for ways to measure my progress. Do you also seek satisfactory answers to questions about the meaning and sense of your life?
I help people assess their meaning of life by enquiring into their needs, perceptions, values and relationships. I help people assess their answers according to the research of Abram Maslow, Gregory Bateson and Clare Graves … and some of my own.
Maslow: Hierarchy of Needs
Abraham Maslow, a psychologist, wrote that human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs, and that certain needs must be satisfied before higher needs. He believed that people are basically trustworthy, self-protecting and self-governing. My summary if his hierarchy of needs is
|Physiological||Your need for water, food, sleep, touch, etc|
|Safety||Your need for stability: the security of a home and safety for your family|
|Belonging||Your need to belong to a family, clubs, work groups, religions, etc, where you can accept and feel accepted by others|
|Esteem||Your need to esteem yourself, perhaps by competence at a task, and your need for external recognition|
|Actualization||Your need to become “everything that you can become.” You seek knowledge, experiences, self-fulfillment, etc|
Bateson: Hierarchy of Logical Types
Gregory Bateson, an anthropologist, applied systems theory to psychology (see Steps to an Ecology of Mind). His description of Logical Types define a hierarchy of abstraction from geographic locations to universal principles:
|Place||You visit locations that you find meaningful. These may be places with unusual geographic features; places where special people died or were buried; or where unusual events happened.|
|Things||You venerate objects of unusual meaning, beauty or scarcity. This may include possessions or parts of people who you consider to be special.|
|Behaviors||You repeat body movements that you find meaningful. This includes repeating words that symbolize a relationship with an esoteric agency.|
|Beliefs||You believe ideas that cannot be proven. Important beliefs often lack factual basis yet involve meaningful places, things or people.|
|Values||You value meaningful abstractions that cannot be measured or
assessed in ordinary reality (e.g. beauty, charm, happiness …)
|Identify||You identify with places, things, behaviors (e.g. a job),
beliefs, values, other people or human systems.
|Transcend||To transcend identity is a goal of many spiritual paths, although
people may dispute whether or not you have actually transcended.
Graves: Hierarchy of Values
Clare Graves, a post-doctoral student of Abraham Maslow, described values as a basis of human development. His model of societal evolution predicts the behavior of individuals, groups and organizations. I loosely interpret his work in this table:
|Survival||Your meaning of life is to survive
long enough to have children
|Tribal||Your meaning of life is to survive in small communities
with the help of esoteric agencies
|Power||Your meaning of life is to enjoy power – to be a warrior –
to discover and conquer for your gratification
|Stability||Your meaning of life is to enjoy stability –
to establish and regulate society for the security of your peers
|Success||Your meaning of life is to enjoy success –
to increase your individual worth in a competitive market
|Community||Your meaning of life is to enjoy community –
to share feelings and philosophies in a protected group
|Systemic||Your meaning of life is to participate in complex systems – to find interconnections that benefit all members of all systems|
|Global||Your meaning of life is to value and nurture all living things
– as part of a complex global super-system
Carruthers: Hierarchy of Relationships
Some relationships give meaning to your life, and without those relationships, life may be depressing. Most people seem to develop a hierarchy of relationships that supports meaningful lives. The relationship types that I consider most likely to affect your sense of life are:
|Early Family||Your sense of connection to members of your family, living and dead, in which you learn basic life skills and family rules as a basis for relationships with family members|
|Friendship||Your sense of connection to special people with whom you share experiences, feelings, personal details and advice, as a basis for relationships with people who are not family|
|Teamwork||Your sense of connection to people with whom you work together towards shared goals for mutual benefit, as a basis for committed co-operation|
|Partnership||Your sense of connection to a special person with whom you create a long-term relationship to experience love and intimacy, and prepare for nurturing children and / or community projects|
|Parenthood||Your sense of caring and connection to your children, child substitutes (e.g. pets) or long term projects that you create and nurture|
|Community||Your sense of connection to members of your community, whether geographical, political, professional, or through other shared interests|
|Humanity||Your sense of connection to members of your race, including your acceptance of their countries of origin, and their diverse cultural backgrounds, values and beliefs|
People who feel disconnected from other people often have a depressed sense of life and perhaps feel lost in life or even suicidal. This identity loss seems to underlie many unpleasant symptoms. People who lack the skills required for healthy relationships often prefer parasitic or codependent relationships to no relationships at all.
I find that people with mature relationship skills who enjoy fulfilling their relationship responsibilities usually enjoy an intense sense of meaning in life. Hence part of our work is helping people assess and clarify their relationships.
The Soul of Soulwork is a joyful expression of life filled with insight and understanding.
Contact us to solve relationship problems and develop your emotional maturity