We work and write in spirit. Spirit moves in a circular fashion, returning again and again, going deeper and wider with each movement. This can feel redundant, uncomfortable, and even irritating to the linear mind, but it is intentional and necessary.
Credentials: Understanding Their Limitations
"There is no credential that can be earned by academic means when it comes to transforming one's self and one's life."
Our perspective about credentials such as degrees, certificates, training, associations, etc. is different than the culture's general view ~ which holds formal education and transmitted knowledge in such high regard. We recognize that people benefit greatly from education, and that it is necessary and required for certain modalities. We understand how and why the system is in place. But it is vital to balance this by recognizing its limitations and the illusion that is created by over-valuing these standardized credentials. Education and training deliver knowledge and technical skills ~ but they do not impart integrity, accountability, personal authority, wisdom, respectfulness, and certainly not personal transformation. In this article we are especially looking at credentialing for those working within the psycho-spiritual healing arena, where these character qualities are pivotal.
~~~~~~~~~~~~ " . . . a list of impressive credentials does not indicate integrity, accountability, personal authority, or respectfulness ~ and certainly not personal transformation." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From Reese: I had an experience last year that demonstrated to us the limitations of our system of credentialing within the psycho-spiritual healing community. For me it was a living example of how degrees, certificates, published books, fame, and number of years in the field do not necessarily indicate the essential character qualities described above. This took place in an appointment with a well-known intuitive career coach and author. Since she incorporated numerology in her work, Karen and I had both taken an interest in meeting with her. I wanted to get more intuitive insight into how my birth path number was showing up in our work with Expanded Living.
What I did not see is how my persona ~ my long-practiced false personality ~ was looking for attention and approval from this well-known personality, and how it jumped in and took over the meeting. Nor did the coach pick up on this.
Her main premise, based on my birth path number being an 8, was that I would not be truly walking in my soul path ~ or be successful ~ unless I was working independently ~ a solo act. She spent the hour trying to convince me that I was diminishing myself by working in partnership with Karen. She also concluded I was far more qualified than Karen simply based on the fact that I had a Masters degree, and Karen had stopped with a Bachelors degree (very intentionally).
Here is a common illusion that springs out of over-valuing education and other “external” credentials: the notion that if someone has a higher degree they are automatically qualified, or more qualified. In the case with Karen and I this notion is especially incongruent with reality. Karen’s personal authority, integrity, clarity, strength, and maturity within her authentic self and her gifts has been developed over a lifetime. She has faithfully walked in her truth and authenticity, paying whatever price it required. Whereas, I had been hiding under a false persona most of my life, trying to stay safe, and only recently embarked on a journey of deep healing and integration work under Karen’s guidance. No amount of degrees and training can compare to the wisdom and authority that come from an authentic life walk.
Almost anyone can get these degrees and certifications if they are fairly intelligent and have the dedication to complete the work. Again, this is no indication of integrity, wisdom earned through walking in awareness and accountability, or that soul work has occurred at a deep level. Degrees and certificates represent a body of knowledge, methodology, and practice. Professional therapists, coaches, and healers can learn, apply, and practice for a lifetime, and even with all this still avoid their own inner transformation.
~~~~~~~~~~~ "Whatever any of us ~ as healers, therapists, coaches, or spiritual guides ~ are hiding from or by-passing within ourselves is naturally going to limit where we can go, how much power we have, and how clearly we can see who is before us." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The work I (Reese) have gone through with Karen ~ deep processing and integration, lining up with my intuition and inner guidance, reclaiming my authentic self and my power, seeing what has been hidden ~ this has been incomparably more powerful and deep than anything I experienced in my Masters work in transpersonal psychology. I did get a lot out of the program at the time, and am glad I did it. But I also experienced up close the limitations of the training entailed in "official" credentials. We students shared intimately with each other during the course of our work, and got to know each other pretty well. And I saw people heading out into the world as spiritual teachers, coaches, and counselors who were not acknowledging or dealing with a lot of issues in their lives ~ making "spiritual by-pass" a practice. This is going to be reflected in their work.
Whatever wounds and dysfunction any of us healers, teachers, counselors, and coaches are not seeing about ourselves directly inhibits what we will be able to see in the people we are “helping” or “healing.” For example, when I, Reese, was fully immersed in my persona with its innate dishonesty, I could not see this kind of dishonesty and dysfunction in the people around me. I therefore ended up unconsciously helping them feel more comfortable in their dysfunction, rather than helping them see it and transform it.
It has been my work with Karen that pushed me into feeling my life, into seeing myself (my unacknowledged gifts as well as my "ugly" parts), into owning my life fully. My persona was driving the bus in seeking a degree and career as a spiritual coach, and the formal education and training did not detect or challenge it.
I, Reese, would have headed out into the world with my core of dysfunction intact, since these programs are not able to deal with these deeply embedded issues. And whatever any spiritual healer, therapist, or coach is hiding from or by-passing is naturally going to limit where they can go, how much power they have, and how clearly they can see who is before them. Whatever is hidden from self creates blind spots. It keeps people from walking in their true power. The jarring reality is that when any of us are not walking in our own authentic power, we feed on others' power whether we realize we are doing it or not. It’s just natural law at work.
Impressive credentials ~ without the real soul work we are talking about here ~ actually tend to build up the persona and ego, making these "hidden-to-self" aspects of a person want to be even more hidden. These parts are hidden because they do not fit at all within the cultivated image of self. If seen, they can shatter the illusion (we call this being broken open, and is the opportunity for transformation). The more fortified the illusory self-image becomes through the outer "success” achieved, that much more is perceived to be at stake when it is challenged.
~~~~~~~~~~ " . . . when we are not walking fully in our own power, we feed on others' power ~ whether we realize we are doing it or not." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From Reese: This intuitive coach I met with was operating in her established beliefs and agendas, and through that lens asserting that my work with Karen did not fit within my soul path. My persona ~ wanting to please and defer to this “authority,” presented a distorted picture of our work in Expanded Living (because it cannot understand it) ~ severely downplaying the part Karen had played in waking me up and guiding me through transformation. All this invited the coach to continue, feeling more confident of her directives. Rather than correcting her misguided assumptions, rather than standing firm in my own truth, I deferred to this well-known professional.
Impressive credentials in a “professional” often have this kind of effect on their clientele and other people encountering them ~ if those people are not grounded in their bodies, knowing who they are, and walking in their own authority and truth. Most people in our culture are not grounded in this way. In this state, the list of degrees and accomplishments, and air of professionalism from the healer or teacher can feel much more real to a person than their own feelings, values, and experience. This dynamic is amplified by the prevailing attitude in our culture that teaches us our power is outside ourselves. We are groomed to look to an expert or an authority of some kind, "official" knowledge, established traditions, or the consensus of others. In this case, a general belief is that we are going nowhere without college degrees, certifications, and ongoing official training ~ and that the longer the list of letters after our names, the more qualified and valuable we are.
This system of credentials and the importance we give them as a society, is a construct outside ourselves, purporting to classify what is valid and worthwhile. But relying on a list of degrees and certificates to indicate who is a qualified healer, actually sets people up to feel powerless, to feel less aware of their own guidance, and more like victims. They are conditioned to not see the limitations or faults of a particular healer or therapist if they come with awesome credentials or a sizable reputation. The credentials can easily become a smoke screen, causing people to feel little need for their own discernment.
From Reese:At the close of the coaching session ~ after driving home how critical it is that I create my own work and do my own thing, the coach offered me her own coach training for free, suggesting it might give me a system that would work for me. This was an unaccounted-for departure from her primary message about my highly independent soul path, implying that working with Karen would compromise me. She did an about-face and indicated that taking on her system of working, and joining her “tribe” of coaches, would not compromise my path. I had a lifetime habit of giving my power away in exchange for attention and approval, and this coach reflexively took it, not even seeing what she was doing.
On the other hand, my experience with Karen as my spiritual guide has been in total contrast to that. When I stumble around trying to give her my power she refuses it. And so I have seen her do with others she works with. She is a powerful presence, having walked for 50 years in her authentic self, following her guidance, sharpening her intuition ~ and anyone who is not in their own authentic power in some way or another tries to give her theirs. I have seen this many times, and she always hands their power back. If someone had come to meet with her and did what I was doing with this coach, she would have stopped it in short order. She has no need or desire for anyone else's kudos or agreement, and certainly no interest in having fans or followers. I have witnessed her for many years now, doing whatever was needed ~ not looking to be liked, or needing to be seen as "competent." She does what is needed, gives deep compassion, offers profound empathy, confronts what needs to be confronted, and helps people break open so they can see and transform. It is amazing. She has done this for me over and over for the past seven years.
Because she walks in integrity and her own authentic power, she needs nothing from me or anyone she guides through their soul work. She shows up and gives whatever she is guided for their awakening and benefit, always encouraging them into their unique process. Rather than having a methodology, she shows up not knowing where things will go, and just follows where she is led. She will play the fool if necessary, willing to go into the unknown. I have watched her change course mid-stream because the person's guides directed her into what harmonized with that person’s gifts and processes. At times she helps their cognitive understanding of a situation, and at other times she purposefully confounds their thinking and understanding because it's blocking them. At times she is confrontational and at other times she is absolute compassion and gentleness ~ giving whatever is needed for that individual in that moment.
This is the kind of responsiveness, fluidity, integrity, and power that will push people into awakening and transformation, the kind that challenges self-deception and games that build up a false persona or help the ego be in charge. The "hidden-to-self" aspects of the psyche cannot be cleaned up if not seen, and cannot be clearly seen except by someone who has also encountered and cleaned up his or her own hidden-to-self areas. Full sight is needed. I believe this is what Jesus was talking about in removing the plank from your own eye before you try to help your brother remove the speck from his eye.
Our western society, particularly in the United States, has latched on to a system of thinking that wants to certify nearly everything, and offer guarantees of some uniform, verifiable knowledge and ability, allegedly for protection and sense of safety. But it is an illusion to believe we are protected if we are relying on something outside ourselves to guide us. There is no "system" out there that can filter out problematic issues in all their subtle forms, within therapists and healers ~ or in any field, for that matter. Just look at our system: it is replete with regulations and standards and required certifications ~ but this has not eliminated misconduct, fraudulent practices, predatory behaviors, or victimization. And the belief that there even can be such a system that ensures safety lulls people into less attunement to their own inner guidance and personal responsibility.
Not only that, but the rigid need for certification and standardization obstructs the practice of many people who are truly gifted in any given area, or who have walked through a great deal of experience, or who have an original approach that stands outside the official conventions and methods. These people may not be taken seriously, or be blocked from entering into an area of work if they are not in a position to jump through all the hoops presented by our society and the governing boards of a particular arena of service. We miss out on what they have to offer, their capacity to expand their area of interest and the collective consciousness. It is in our calling in Expanded Living to shine the light on our collapsed views such as this, as well as open up a place for gifted people to come and offer their unique calling to their family, community, and the world.
Much of this collapsed mentality about credentials in the United States goes back to the avoidance of responsibility and the love affair with the victim state. Rather than taking full ownership of our lives and our choices; rather than relying on our own inner compass to guide each of us about whom we work with and who we trust; we want some external force to guarantee our safety and remove the responsibility. Or we want some fail-proof system to guarantee protection of those we consider more vulnerable and compromised than ourselves. But we cannot have our freedom and power without full responsibility for our lives. If we push away our responsibility, we push away our freedom with it.
~~~~~~~~~~ "In Expanded Living we want to see people get back in touch with their own inner guidance ~ listening to the feelings and intuition present in their hearts and bodies ~ discerning for themselves what is in alignment with them." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
We want to see people in touch with their own lives and their own knowing. We ask that our society and the world open up to the value of more than diplomas and external credentials. Be willing to see ourselves, (all of ourselves) be willing to see each other (all of other people's stuff), and what is actually happening in our lives. This is a start.
In closing, we recognize there are careers and jobs where training is necessary. Nor do we believe it is wrong to have guidelines and standards to try to protect people. Our call here is to address the collapsed perspective that worships degrees, certificates, and standardized credentials as the main thing or only thing that matters. Reese and I both have our own degrees and certifications, but these credentials have nothing to do with our transformation. I (Karen) have been walking "awake" following my intuition, and guidance my whole life; and this has more power, authority, integrity, truth, wisdom, and knowledge than anything I have ever learned in my B.A. program or other training. From this place within me, in my own knowing and my guidance from the other side, I have walked into transformation and into my calling. This walk has been a natural progression and unfolding. Reese and I carried a deep soul intention to meet, for me to guide her into her transformation, and then into our work together. The knowledge and wisdom we walk in is not taught: it is lived. Our work is to guide others to walk into their transformation. We are also called to awaken our society and world in order to help shift our planet.
There is no credential that can be earned by academic means when it comes to transforming one's self and one's life. Academics are about our mind, intellectual food, and training ~ beautiful and necessary for many things! But not for all areas of life! Transformation has to be lived, not taught; it is done through trial and error, through blood, sweat and tears! One must walk through the fires and back ~ through their shadow and out the other side into a spirit-led life (not "spiritual life" ~ that is different). We are here to experience our humanity, by means of our spirit leading. This is our work.
~~~~~~~~~ "We can gain knowledge, skill, and ability ~ we can apply and practice it for a lifetime, and still avoid our own inner transformation." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~