The other day I was talking with a young woman who expressed considerable uncertainty about her direction in life. A version of this conversation happens so frequently between people that it becomes unremarkable, and therefore invisible. In some sense, it seems normal. It was clear she was solidly grounded because she had a firm sense of what was important to her, but she seemed unaware of this essence. Instead, she focused on the most superficial aspects of her situation and worried over the external evidence of her confusion. We embarked on a sightseeing trip toward her inner terrain.
Being grounded means knowing who you are. It means having a solid sense of yourself and a deep intimacy with the many aspects of your nature. Being grounded means being authentic with yourself–willing to become acquainted with the complex, conflicted, nuanced, and historical you. It is a lifetime journey, and a deep pleasure, to become a reflective observer of your own inner life. As Daniel Siegel explains it, we are moving in the direction of greater integration. Or as James Grotstein suggests, we are coming to know and accept the rejected parts of ourselves.
There is a direction to our lives, a developmental unfolding which pushes for expression. A part of that process is created by the relationships we create, the people we select to include in our lives, and the dynamics we develop for allowing them to know us. There are no rules for this process, which means at times we can get derailed temporarily by fear. Ultimately, though, we keep seeking expression, and with persistence and luck, we find relationships that have the space, the encouragement, and the nourishment that allow us to discover ourselves and our place in the world. Like many species of animals and plants, we cannot reach our full development alone. It is a serious and profound business and often unrecognized and unfulfilled. Sometimes we take the gift of consciousness too lightly.