Young people can feel unsure of themselves, isolated, alone, and very worried about what other people think of them. Integral Deep Listening not only puts such concerns in context but provides young people with a sense of internal support so that they do not feel so isolated and alone.

We all have dreams for our lives, hopes and wishes for the future. However, we also have fears. We know that life is unpredictable and that “shit happens.” What can you do to reduce the chances that your life dream will turn into a nightmare?  How do you keep your own deepest fears from coming true?  While Integral Deep Listening (IDL) does not keep bad things from happening in your life, it does offer two contributions. First, it improves your odds for avoiding disaster by broadening your perspective, allowing you to make better decisions. Secondly, when lemons show up in your life, IDL helps you to make lemonade. It does so by teaching you to not personalize, to broaden your worldview or point of view so that you see that the drama is not about you; it helps you cultivate inner peace and detachment so that crises feel less like an attack on you.  IDL teaches you to listen to your fears so you can learn to respect and defuse them.

The following interview is with Lori, who was eighteen and living in Berlin. It has provided her with an ally in her efforts to make her dreams come true: a raven, sitting on her shoulder!

Imagine you are ninety and looking back on your life…

“I would be a singer and dancer in a musical theater and earn enough money to have a nice apartment and to be independent, to support my children, to show them that if they really want something they could accomplish it.  I really want to be married!  I want a healthy family.  I would have two children, the first a boy, because boys are not so complicated! In addition to singing and dancing I would have been an athletic, sporty person.”

What would be the nightmare of your life?

I wouldn’t have a job.  I don’t want to be dependent on the state.  I would hate that! Those people carry the prejudice of the country on their shoulders. I don’t want to be one of them. You can make something of yourself.  You can get a job and be good in it.  If I am not able to be a dancer and singer I will be a nurse. I would go to nursing school at the big hospital here.  Also, my husband would end up being a terrible person.  The same thing would happen to me that happened to my mom – my husband would have affairs and the marriage would be over.  And I would end up being like my mother!  Also, I probably wouldn’t have kids.  Depressed, no friends, no job, and sick!”

All that brought up feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and depression for Lori – the feeling of being a failure! Lori associated those feelings with the color black, and black congealed into a raven! Here is what Raven had to say:

Raven: “I’m sitting on Lori’s shoulder.  I’m just here to put a little weight on her left shoulder. I like that I can make Lori be scared of the future, that I can make her worried.

I’m all of  Lori’s worries.  I’m all the bad things that could happen to her. This is where I want to be. It’s not that I want her to think that everything bad will come true.  I want her to know that her nightmare could come true because the world is hard and life is hard.  It’s not always happy.!

“I score myself a ten in confidence because I am what I am. I also score a ten in inner peace. I’m an eight in wisdom because I know the dangers and what to look out for. I am also an eight in witnessing. I am a five in acceptance because I accept myself, but not others that lose direction. I am a two in compassion because I don’t worry about whether Lori is happy or not.”

“If I had a ten in compassion I probably wouldn’t exist!  I need to be here to remind Lori of what can happen so she will motivate herself to take advantage of her skills and opportunities. If she scored like I do Lori would be more relaxed than she is.  She wouldn’t be as stressed out over school. At the moment she is making the best out of the situation that she is in. Regarding her family, I would think the same way she does, but I would not say anything at times, like when fights come up.  I wouldn’t be as high-tempered as she is!  I am relaxed and sit on her shoulder.  She shouldn’t let her feathers be ruffled! Regarding her boyfriend and her friends, sometimes things make her mad. She should just be quiet at those times.  Sometimes people will not listen to what she says.  She’s doing a good job with her boyfriend right now. I am on her shoulder because sometimes she is kind of lazy about school. If she knows I am here she knows that she has to do her work.  I motivate her, just by being here!”

I recommend that she focuses more on being relaxed and not so concerned about having friends. Look for other ones. If Lori got cheated on by her boyfriend with a girl she knows, she could give it another chance if he was ready to change.  If there is no interest in changing, she should just go on with her life. She should also focus on her schoolwork.”

“I am here to help Lori stay motivated to work on everything, to become more relaxed, to get out of herself and see herself from other points of view so her nightmare won’t come true. If she’s obsessing about something she needs to remember me and become more relaxed and calm herself down.   Then she wouldn’t change so many things into problems; she wouldn’t let problems touch her so deeply.”

Here is what Lori said she heard herself say:

“I need to be more relaxed about everything, to try to see myself from the point of view of the witness, to not to change everything into a problem for myself! I need to be focused in school first and to chill out!  Relax!”

What can we conclude from this interview? Most young people who are struggling to find themselves already have a pretty good sense of what they need to do and not do, like Lori does. The problem is in contacting that sense of direction, listening to it, and having the support that they need to follow it. IDL attempts to provide these important support structures to young people, and when you serve as an interviewing fellow student, coach, practitioner or teacher of IDL for them you awaken within them contact with the awarenesses, perspectives and resources that they need to “be the changes they wish to see in the world.” IDL coaches, teachers and practitioners help young adults like Lori by helping them remember what their emerging potentials, in this case personified by Lori’s Raven, are saying to them and help them choose what, if any, of the recommendations they receive they want to test in their daily lives. You then help Lori apply and monitor those recommendations so she can build trust in her own inner compass, her own inner sense of direction for her life. It is through such processes that Lori will sense her feet finally on the ground and develop a gut sense of her way forward in her life. If Lori is willing to continue to work with IDL, that path will open up, guiding her to ever broader lucidity, awakening and enlightenment.

Here is the transcript of the original interview:

What are three fundamental life issues that you are dealing with now in your life?

1. Family

2. Friends and my boyfriend

3. All my worries are about school

Which life issue brings up the strongest feelings for you?

I  Family

Imagine you are ninety and looking back on your life.

I would be a singer and dancer in a musical theater and  earn enough money to have a nice apartment and to be independent, to support my children, to show them that if they really want something they could accomplish it.  Two children – the first a boy, because boys are not so complicated!  I really want to be married!  I want a healthy family.  In addition to singing and dancing I would have been an anthletic, sporty person.

What would be the nightmare of your life?

I wouldn’t have a job.  I don’t want to be dependent on the state.  I would hate that!  Those people carry the prejudice of the country on their shoulders. I don’t want to be one of them. You can make something of yourself.  You can get a job and be good in it.  If I am not able to be a dancer and singer I will be a nurse, if I don’t pass the eight university audietions for two years in a row.  I would go to nursing school at the big hospital here.  Also, my husband would end up being a terrible person.  The same thing would happen to me that happened to my mom – my husband would have affairs and the marriage would be over.  And I would end up being like my mother!  Also, I probably wouldn’t have kids.  Depressed, no friends, no job, and sick!

What feelings does all that bring up for you?

Helpless, hopeless, depression, a failure!

If those feelings had a color (or colors), what would it be?

Black

Imagine that color filling the space in front of you so that it has depth, height, width, and aliveness.

Now watch that color swirl, congeal, and condense into a shape. Don’t make it take a shape, just watch it and say the first thing that you see or that comes to your mind: An animal? Object? Plant? What?

A raven!

Now remember how as a child you liked to pretend you were a teachis/her or a doctor?  It’s easy and fun for you to imagine that you are the shape that took form from your color and answer some questions I ask, saying the first thing that comes to your mind.  If you wait too long to answer, that’s not the character answering – that’s YOU trying to figure out the right thing to say!

Raven, would you please tell me about yourself and what you are doing?

I’m on her shoulder.  I’m just here to put a little weight on her left shoulder.

What do you like most about yourself? What are your strengths?

That I can make Lori be scared of the future.  That I can make her worried.

What do you dislike most about yourself? Do you have weaknesses?  What are they?

No. And I don’t have any weaknesses.

Raven, you are in this person’s life experience, correct?  They created you, right? Raven, what aspect of this person do you represent or most closely personify?

I’m all of  Lori’s worries.  I’m all the bad things that could happen to her.

(Character,) if you could be anywhere you wanted to be and take any form you desired, would you change?  If so, how?

No.  This is where I want to be. It’s not that I want her to think that everything will come true.  I want her to know that her nightmare could come true because the world is hard and life is hard.  It’s not always happy.

(Continue, answering as the transformed object, if it chose to change.)

(Character), how would you score yourself 0-10, in each of the following six qualities:  confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing?  Why?

Confidence: 10  I am what I am!

Compassion:   2 I don’t worry about whether Lori is happy or not.

Wisdom:   9 I know the dangers and what to look out for.

Acceptance:   5 I accept myself, but not others that lose direction.

Inner Peace: 10

Witnessing: 8

(Character,) if you scored tens in all six of these qualities, would you be different?  If so, how?

Of course!  If I had a ten in compassion I probably wouldn’t exist!  I need to be here to remind Lori of what can happen so she will motivate herself to take advantage of her skills and opportunities.

How would Lori’s life be different if she naturally scored high in all six of these qualities all the time?

She would be more relaxed than she is.  She wouldn’t be as stressed out over school.

If you could live Lori’s life for her, how would you live it differently?

At the moment she is making the best out of the situation that she is in.

If you could live this person’s waking life for her today, would you handle his/her three life issues differently?  If so, how?

1. Regarding her family, I would think the same way she does, but I would not say anything at times, like when fights come up.  I wouldn’t be as high-tempered as she is!  I am relaxed and sit on her shoulder.  She shouldn’t let her feathers be ruffled!

2. Regarding her booyfriend and her friends, sometimes things make her mad. She should just be quiet at those times.  Sometimes people will not listen to what she says.  She’s doing a good job with her boyfriend right now.

3. I am on her shoulder because sometimes she is kind of lazy about school. If she knows I am here she knows that she has to do her work.  I motivate her, just by being here!

What three life issues would you focus on if you were in charge of his/her life?

1. Her friends.  To be relaxed and not so concerned.  Look for other friends. If Lori got cheated on by her boyfriend with a girl she knows, she could give it another chance if he was ready to change.  If there is no interest in changing, she should just go on with her life.

2. Her school.

Why do you think that you are in Lori’s life?

I don’t feel guilty about being in Lori’s life!  I am here to help her stay motivated to work on everything, to become more relaxed, to get out of herself and see herself from other points of view so her nightmare won’t come true.

In what life situations would it be most beneficial for Lori to imagine that she is you and act as you would?

If she’s obsessing about someting she needs to remember me and become more relaxed and calm herself down.   She wouldn’t change so many things into problems.  She wouldn’t let problems touch her so deeply.

Lori, what have you heard yourself say?

I need to be more relaxed about everything. Try to see myself from the point of view of the witness.  Not to change everything into a problem for myself!

If this experience were a wake-up call from your soul, what do you think it would be saying to you?

To be focused in school first and chill out!  Relax!