Using MetaSelf: Doing a Growth Inventory.
In this first section, I make some general suggestions about
how the structure of the MetaSelf model can be used for general
self-assessment and to promote growth. Like Maslow, I attach
great importance to growth. In his Hierarchy of Needs, growth
is at the peak of the pyramid, but in a sense, all the levels
build up to growth. Using the levels as a spatial reminder or
guide, one can do an inventory of a situation or of one's life
in general, checking the explanatory text for each ascending
level of the pyramid. Taking an inventory gives you an overall
picture, but it is also a good way to stimulate growth.
In doing a MetaSelf inventory, the front/back
(z) axis is your primary spatial guide, in contrast with Maslow's
model with its ascending levels. This is true whether you are
imagining the full-bodied first illustration or the second,
more schematic, box-frame version. Let's go through
the meanings of the spaces along this axis, moving from left
to right in figure 2. In my experience, visualizing this axis
with its attendant spatial phrases allows me to arrange information
about myself as it occurs to me. Gaps in my awareness become
very noticeable. If I am looking at a specific relationship
with someone, of course I must consider not just the spaces
on my end of the z axis but try to put myself in the mirror
positions on their end, as well.
A PERSON FACING A BOX-FRAME ON THE WALL OF A ROOM
(mouse-over image for exploded view)
PLACES ALONG THE FRONT/BACK (Z) AXIS
The space outside the room signifies (=) the things we say are "beyond
space and time." Imagining yourself in this position of
The Witness or an outside observer, you are asking What are my
ultimate values? Or, what is the soul's view or the God's eye
The wall of the room = A system we exist within and are (usually)
supported by. E.g. a social system (two or more people); an ecosystem;
Nature; space and time, the natural universe. There are nesting
systems to consider, of course. You are asking, How do the system
and its laws, rules or norms regard what is going on?
The back of the box-frame = the back of
one's mind, a metaphorical
space where we locate memories, repressed (pressed back) feelings,
one's background, unmet needs and hidden potentials. The shadow
on the wall represents Jung's "shadow." You are asking,
What hidden issues and potentials do I need to be aware of?
The backboard of the box-frame = The real space of the body,
where we experience bodily needs, pains, sensations, emotions
and feelings in the real space of the body with its three perpendicular
axes oriented to gravity. You are asking, What is my bodily experience
in the present moment? Maslow's physiological needs.
The cloth or paint covering the backboard = The "front" one
is putting up, one's mask, persona (Jung), facade or covering.
You are asking, Am I using my "image" to manipulate
people or to cover something I am ashamed of?
The space inside the front acrylic cover = a conscious mental
space; the metaphorical location of our public thoughts and
expressions of self. Note that the cover and the backboard, the
mind and the body, fit together: metaphorical space fits onto
The acrylic cover itself = metaphorically, our firm personal
boundary, which protects us and restrains us, but also lets information
in and out. You are asking, Am I both protecting myself well
and restraining my own aggression? And am I communicating in
both directions across my boundary?
The space between the box-frame (the self) and the full-bodied
viewer in the room = what is "going on between us," the
inter-actions and communications going on within the system of
the relationship. In Buber, where an immanent God appears in
a genuine interaction "between I and Thou." In Winnicott,
this is called "potential space," where a relationship
grows from potentiality to actuality.
Once you have filled in spaces along
the z axis as much as possible, check for conflicts and inconsistencies
between various parts. For example, conflicts between the back
of one's mind and one's public front are issues of integrity.
As conflicts are resolved, more of the complexity of the self
and the world is integrated. Integrated complexity is one good
definition of growth.
View an earlier version of this same material.