graphic: MetaSelf Logo

The mind is
inherently embodied.

— Lakoff & Johnson



Self-Assessment Tool A Tentative Outline Based on MetaSelf

My general hypothesis:

Having a picture or model of the self based on the body would simplify Collecting information and making an Assessment. Having some kind of picture would organize collected information spatially, making it easier to monitor for oneself.

More specifically, a picture based somehow on the body would organize it intuitively as well, because you know the conceptual structure: it's yours and it’s always with you. Just stop what you are doing and go through the spaces jotting down relevant thoughts, feelings, images, etc, checking how they feel in your body as you go.

graphic: The Front/Back Axis
The Front/Back Axis, showing the 8 Spaces

Body issues, body awareness and paying attention to the body sense or felt sense (Space 4 - Body).

Integrity and shame issues at the front you put up (Space 5 - Front), the persona plane.

Back of the mind issues (Space 3 - Back), such as painful memories that pop up and then get dismissed, or unfulfilled yearnings and potentials.

What you put out (Space 6 - Output) into the world in your labor, talent, gift, creativity, resources, money, etc. in social exchange.

Boundary issues, limit setting; shield and self-protection; self-containment and self-restraint (Space 7 - Boundary).

Then comes the space between you and another person, where interaction goes on, and information about that can go there (Space 8 - Between).

The wall (Space 2 - Wall/Inside) can represent the norms or rules of the immediate smallest system, a relationship or family. Then the room can be thought of as being within a larger building or complex of buildings representing larger systems, larger frames of reference. Or you can just make the wall represent any system you are thinking about.

Outside of any of these "rooms" (Space 1 - Beyond), one can place spiritual beliefs, ultimate values, and the position of the Witnessing Subject  or Consciousness, I, etc.

Putting It Together, Axis by Axis

Then one can start by looking at the three axes of the body, and the moral or ethical issues they represent.

Front/Back Axis:
Honesty, Integrity & Transparency versus Shame, Duplicity & Two-facedness
Look at issues  at the Front you are putting up, the mask, the covering. How safe is it to be self-revealing? How much does your Front, Mask or Persona vary from situation to situation. How comfortable is the degree of variation?
Courage and Assertiveness versus Avoiding or Fleeing
Your preferred angle of approaching or skirting an issue; directness or indirectness. Is it serving you well? How do you handle anxiety and fear? Are you facing the issues directly?).
Boundary Setting
Can you set and maintain boundaries, and if not, how is that affecting how transparent you are? and whether you approach or avoid things?
Empathy and Compassion
Examining your ability and willingness to imaginatively put yourself in the other's place in various relationships or situations.  Do you do it too much, over-identify with the Other?
Detachment and Objectivity
Are you able to step back a little from your feelings, and patiently be present with them in order to gently calm them (a part of yourself)? Can you be curious about what is going on, rather than judgmental?
Self-Restraint versus Lack of Self-Restraint
Can you keep your issues within your boundary?  Or do you regularly do things you need to apologize for in order to lift the burden of guilt and raise your self esteem?

Ability to be Close (intimate and loving) and Open versus Need to be Stand-offish
This requires you to monitor and manage many aspects of the self spelled out in the model, including boundaries, front, insight into the back of your mind, and a lot more.
Mutual Respect versus Contempt or Adoration
Needing to be one up, or one down, wanting to tilt the axis one way or the other. Too "high and mighty" vs. self-abasing and over-apologetic.  Can you find ways to level the interaction, adjust it for mutual respect?
Independent and Cooperative versus Adopting a Group Identity
Can you manage interactions so that you can keep your balance, hold your ground (not need to change your position) and extend yourself toward others, reach out to others. Try picturing what your body would do to achieve all that.

Try expressing or acting out these questions in a physical way, with whole-body movement. Or with gestures. Or by sensing little muscular inclinations or disinclinations to do something.

Left/Right Axis
How do you make weigh alternatives and make decisions? How do you deal with choices where it's either or? Does the image of a balance scale help you sense the different sides — pros and cons — in your body: “on the one hand…, on the other …”?
Are you able to divide things fairly, finding the middle or balance point?  How do handle being caught in the middle, torn in your loyalties?
Central Issues versus Side Issues
What is closest to your heart, your essence, your core versus what is less important? How clear are your priorities?
Up/Down Axis
Individuality versus Isolation
When you stand out and or stand alone, does it feel like independence, healthy pride and self esteem? or more like isolation, acute aloneness, and “There’s no one like me; no one understands or supports me”? Joining, self-inclusion; being a member or insider versus separateness, outsider and self-exclusion?
Participation in Hierarchy versus Solitary Agency
How do your react to being within a hierarchy with differences of power, authority, class and status? Constant comparison, measuring yourself against others? Self-worth.
Inside/Outside Contrast

Can you step back, “outside", and be an “outside observer,” looking at your situation or system from another, larger vantage point?

Can you imagine existing in a different social setting or system with different norms? Is that what you need in order to feel safely contained and supported?

It Takes Time —Be Patient With Yourself

Personal growth usually happens slowly, over time, and only infrequently in quick spurts.

It can take time to identify the source of one’s dissatisfaction with one’s life. In the meantime, you can feel you are stagnating. If you are not ready to acknowledge the need for change after some little incident, you may be willing to consider it after a few additional, similar ones. The little pieces accumulate over time; incidents become patterns. It is harder to deny that one is unhappy but scared to change.

A spatial picture of the self gives us “places” to keep all this accumulating information properly categorized until one can see how it operates together and what is holding a pattern in place. If you have no way to hold it all together for consideration, it’s hard to see the interactions and theorize about changing it.  While this is going on you can begin to envision a different picture of yourself, and that in turn helps you begin to question your operating assumptions about how life works.

Then you can begin to consider how much change would be necessary to make a new way of acting fall into place and feel good. How many interlocking pieces of the present pattern would have to be given up?