A few weeks ago a former colleague of mine called me up (he's a data analyst) and said he's working on a study for a company that does spiritual consulting and counseling. The company had been crafting a survey tool that would be used with their clients, and they wanted to test it.
Problem was, most of the people in the company were middle-aged women. They needed some diversity for the survey testing. I am not a middle-aged woman, so I could help diversify things. My colleague asked me to take the spiritual assessment for them, and mentioned that I'd receive a full report in return.
He asked if I was interested in taking the survey. Me? Mr. Introspection? Interested in a new glimpse at my strengths and weaknesses? It was like asking an NFL offensive lineman if he'd be interested in a filet mignon.
I took the survey and received my report. It ranked 20 different spiritual "skills" from 0 to 5. Several of my skills were of course somewhere in the middle. Several others were very high (4 or 5). Some were abysmal. Below I'll list my highest-rated skills and my lowest-rated skills, including text from the report. Then I'll tell you my own take on the results:
Highest-rated spiritual skills
Awareness of Own Worldview (Rating: 5)
Report text: You understand and can explain your own worldview. You know that everyone has a worldview and that every worldview has limitations. This keeps you humble and open to learning. You genuinely value other people's perspectives. You are always willing to learn and update your own worldview to include what you learn. Because of this attitude you come across to others as relaxed, interested, open-hearted and open-minded. People find it easy to discuss beliefs with you. Next step: Keep it up! Maintain your spiritual center so that you can stay in this place.
Complexity of Inner Thought Process (Rating: 5)
Report text: You are not likely to hide behind "rules." You understand that outcomes are rarely guaranteed and decisions must be made even when there isn't enough data. You are able to think through highly complex problems and hold apparent conflicting views as simultaneously true. You can find pleasure in this broad perspective and enjoy stretching you mind. Working within the complexity and ambiguity in life situations is normal for you. This is wonderful! Next step: Bring your heart fully into the decision-making process. Your mind is well-developed and reaching for Wisdom. To attain Wisdom your thinking must be informed by Compassion for the suffering, needs, and joys of others affected by your decisions.
Feeling Interconnected with All Life (Rating: 5)
Report text: You are connected to other life. You can stay in open-hearted awareness when someone is in pain. When an animal suffers, you feel sadness. You understand the connection of ecosystems and all life on earth. You are aware that there is complexity in the interconnections of the world - such that sometimes what looks like a "bad" event leads to good things. You also understand that you play a role in creating the life you experience. You know that the consciousness you hold affects the world around you. You realize that the Universe is intelligent and that all energy, matter, time and space are only a part of the larger story. This is a profound level of understanding. Next step: Stay in your heart and feel love and compassion as much of the time as possible. This will help soften the world around you. You know that thoughts help create reality. Affirm the highest and best outcome - this will help to bring it into being.
Awareness of Limitations of Human Perception(Rating: 4)
Report text: You understand that your 5 physical senses and your intuition give you valuable data…AND that whatever you interpret from this data is inherently limited because of how we must filter, sort and interpret information to make sense of it. What we think we "see" is never exactly equal to what is "real." So to some degree we are always responding to our own projections and interpretations - to an illusion of what is real. Next step: Use your spiritual insight to access the highest, least-filtered way of knowing we are capable of. Learn to connect with your "spiritual sight" (insight) through transcendent moments of profound awareness. Mystical practices of any faith tradition can help here. Secular forms of meditation, chanting, sweat lodges, etc. can help if you are not interested in a faith tradition.
Pretty much nailed me on these, I think.. People who know me probably read the above, rolled their eyes and thought, "Yep. That's Michael".
Now on to the ugly:
Lowest-rated spiritual skills
Awareness of Personal Life Purpose (Rating: 1)
Report text: You are clearly intending to live a life that fulfils your highest purpose (mission). But you cannot yet describe your strengths and/or weaknesses. Next step: Ask yourself if you have any natural talents or abilities. Don't be modest about these! Have you worked to discover and develop your strengths/gifts? Are you aware of your weaknesses as well? If you are unsure consider getting input from others who know you well and care about you. Knowing your talents / strengths and weaknesses can help you to think deeply about how you can best make a difference during your lifetime. These are important clues to your purpose. If you are really good at something, or really passionate about something, how can you use
that in service to yourself and others?
Sustaining Faith During Dark Nights of the Soul(Rating: 1)
Report text: You have some confidence in the existence of a Higher Power or a loving, intelligent Universe. You are able to see possible meanings in the events of your life. This is great. Next step: Develop your ability to focus on the positive things in life…develop an "Attitude of Gratitude." Consider a gratitude journal...write at least 3 things in it each day that you are grateful for...try to come up with new ones each day. And set time aside every day to connect with your Higher Power. A relationship requires time and attention to thrive. Read inspiring or sacred texts, listen to uplifting music, pray or meditate. Ask your Highest Self to connect with the love and wisdom of the Universe/Higher Power. Do something every day to put your focus on that which is highest/deepest/wisest.
Report text: You answered that you "often" or "consistently" hate yourself for unwise decisions - or that you are rarely or never compassionate toward yourself when you fail. Consider that anger and hatred are not very productive. Self-hate comes from the Ego side of our nature...from a false belief that we have to be perfect or "right" all the time. Consider that since it's not possible to be right all the time - hating ourselves for making mistakes seems irrational. If you can have compassion for others why not for yourself? And if you cannot love and forgive yourself - can you TRULY love and forgive others? Learning to love yourself is a gift to everyone else in your life - since it will expand your heart. Next step: The next time you make a mistake INTERRUPT the ego-voice of self-criticism and hatred. Tell it that everyone makes mistakes and you did your best. Then substitute a positive form of self-talk like "I am a wondrous being! I am courageous enough to try and to learn. I love and forgive myself!"
Dang. Nailed me again.
The report has given me a lot to think about. It was very, very accurate in my opinion. Bottom line:
I have a strong sense of connection with others. I love to think deeply and meditate on complex ideas. I know my own approach to faith, and I enjoy understanding other people's approaches.
And I have no freaking clue what to do with any of that. And that makes me angry with me.
I think I'm early in the phase of finding out what I'm supposed to be doing with my skills. Might take a while longer. I don't think it's the kind of thing that can be rushed!