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Building Strong Containers: The Framework for Personal Growth
When things are going wrong, it’s easy to catastrophize or think that “everything” is falling apart. But, what if we could reframe our experiences and tackle each area of our life one at a time, allowing us to take a closer look and better understand our personal journey?
Welcome to Lumia co-founder John Kim’s concept of a “life container”.
Unpacking the Concept of 'Containers'
John’s “Containers” theory is a blend of professional knowledge gained from his experience as a therapist, and personal wisdom acquired through the process of rebuilding his own life.
Going through a divorce, grappling with financial challenges, and starting a new job, John found solace in the idea of creating a “safe space” for organic growth. By viewing life as a container, he developed a framework to identify the “cracks” or areas in need of attention and repair.
Working with Containers as a Coach
In his teaching, John emphasizes the importance of coaches undergoing this transformative process themselves before guiding their clients through it. Engaging in this self-work not only equips coaches with a firsthand understanding of the process, but also challenges them to actively participate in their own growth journey.
What is a Container?
In simple terms, a container is the space around us, encompassing various aspects of our lives, including our home environment, relationships, work, and career. These containers have the power to either heal and protect OR harm and infect, depending on their stability and safety.
Safe containers promote organic growth, while cracked containers hinder it, acting as barriers to our well-being. Most of us, at some point, experience cracked containers resulting from past traumas, dysfunctional family dynamics, and other painful life experiences.
Let's take a closer look at some of the key containers.
The Home Container
Your living environment plays a pivotal role in shaping your state of mind. Take a moment to reflect on your current living space.
Does it provide comfort and inspiration, or does it feel more like a dark, cluttered cave?
Transforming your home into a safe container involves evaluating how it impacts your day-to-day life and mood, and then taking actionable steps to create a more nurturing space.
When John first began exploring this concept, he was hesitant to put time and energy into his home environment. As time went on, he realized the importance of a peaceful, calm and aesthetically pleasing environment and spent time and effort to create a strong home “container”.
Action steps for securing your home “container”:
What are five steps you can take to make your home space a safe space? What do these steps look like? Maybe you just need to do something simple, like get rid of the dark curtains, or the vase someone who is no longer in your life gave you, or maybe you need to find an entirely new space. Write down your plan of action.
The Friends and Family Container
Relationships with friends and family can significantly influence our well-being. It’s important to realize that we cannot change others, we can only change our response and reactions. Focus on altering your own boundaries, mindset, and approach to these relationships, creating a dynamic shift towards interactions that nourish us instead of drain us.
Action steps for securing your friends and family “container”:
State five action steps you will take to create a safer space with your friends. Remember, you are not trying to change them. You are changing yourself, your boundaries, your mindset, etc. Therefore, the dynamic of the relationship will shift.
The Work and Career Container
Given the significant amount of time we spend at work, creating a safe container in this domain is crucial. Work and relationships are the two areas with the most mental spill over. We think about them constantly, no matter what space we are in.
- How is what you’re doing affecting your mental and physical state of being?
- Does work make you feel empowered or un-empowered? Invincible or invisible?
- Are you building something that is meaningful to you, even if it is temporary?
- Does what you do line up with your purpose? Or do you believe that it eventually will?
- If you don’t know what your purpose is, does what you’re doing contribute or don’t contribute to exploring your purpose?
Think about these questions and answer them. Don’t just choose yes or no. Delve deep.
Action steps for securing your work and career “container”:
First, define what a safe container at work means to you. For many, it’s supportive people. A boss that allows you to be heard. An environment that is inspirational and empowering. A place where you can really share your unique gifts. A place where you are not afraid.
But this is not the case for most. So think about the giant cracks. Are there toxic coworkers who are draining you? Is work something you completely dread? Do you even enjoy what you do or is it just a paycheck? What action steps can you take to make work/career a safer container for you?
The Pseudo vs. The Solid Self
The “containers” theory has great potential in fostering self-awareness and empathy. Having a strong container can make us more aware of the contrast between our authentic self and the facade we sometimes wear, aptly described by John as the 'solid' and 'pseudo' self, respectively.
Codependency is one of the many ways our 'pseudo' self can manifest. Despite outward appearances, internal struggles can push us away from our true self, leading to sacrifices and compromises detrimental to our well-being.
The Containers theory is more than just a framework; it's a lens through which we can view and understand our lives. By identifying and addressing the cracks in our containers, growth becomes not just an aspirational goal but a continuous, evolving journey.
Whether dissecting our environments, confronting personal challenges, or understanding societal nuances, this theory offers a holistic blueprint for leading a life grounded in authenticity.
Embrace the process, create your safe containers, and watch as your life transforms into a space of growth and empowerment.
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