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    What's Stopping You?

The Integram: an Integral Enneagram of Consciousness;  a model of consciousness, including all aspects, for designing practical paths of personal development and evolution.

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What's Stopping You?
(click for podcast version)

The Self-Limiting Story

Many of my previous chronicles have addressed "liberation," or a sense of freedom as a desired outcome. "Freedom is good, lack of freedom is bad" seems to be a pretty obvious axiom. At the very least, having more options is a better position to be in.

Yet something inside us holds back. For some of us it's a loud voice, seeing potential danger in freedom. We tend to call this, "restraint" and think of chaos in negative terms; something to be controlled. This loudness ranges down to an incredibly quiet voice, fading into subconscious suggestions. Ironically, those subconscious suggestions can be very influential in our behavior. This means we can consciously advocate freedom - even be wildly rebellious - all the while doing it in a little box.

Some of you parents with teenagers may recognize this dynamic. The old joke has a typical exchange when a parent asks their teenager where they're going. The teenager responds, "out." The parent says, "have a good time," and the teenager responds, "don't tell me what to do!"

I've worked with adults who lived in this paradoxical prison as well, and it comes from the same place. The internal story that says, "this is who I am," and has a self-definition of, "I am my own person, and nobody can tell me what to do." If we go a step further, we can see where the logic breakdown happens, "whatever you say, I'll do the opposite." This means that the teenager (or client, or boss, etc.) is forced to do the opposite, to maintain their identity, even when it's not in their own best interest.

Aha! This is a problem. This is where that internal story that defines us becomes the one that confines us.  If we're forced to make choices not in our own best interest - to maintain a story we created in the first place - the story has become our prison.

The "oppositional defiance" is obvious, and somewhat of an exaggeration of how this shows up every day, but the power of those internal stories is staggering. It ranges from self limiting language to self limiting life. This prison of self-definition is what holds us back from achieving our potential. How many times have you heard "think outside the box?" When it comes to your personal development and becoming the best you, your internal, self-defining story is the box.

* If my self-defining story is that I'm an artist, and artists always live on the fringe and suffer, haven't I sentenced myself to that life?


* If my story is that I'm successful, and that success shows in my lifestyle and acquisitions, aren't I now trapped in maintaining that image?


* If my story is that that I'm too smart to trust anyone, aren't I locked into a life of distrust and disconnection?


* If my story is that I have to move fast, doesn't that prohibit taking the time to really listen to people?


* If my story is that I can't expose myself by verbalizing my needs, aren't I ensuring that those needs go unmet?


All of these stories block us from having more choices; having choices that could enrich our lives, rather than burning energy just to maintain the stories.



Who You Are is Smaller Than What You Are

When we focus on our Identity, especially in defining stories, our consciousness is in cramped quarters. The narrative is about pinpointing who we are, bringing it all in and down to a central, singular place. All the energy is pulling inward. This is the opposite of expanding, blossoming, developing, or any natural process associated with growth. Defining parameters is appropriate to project management, but not in organic processes like personal development.

Organic processes grow outward from a seed (of some sort) rather than from the box, inward. Our self-defining stories are the boxes that prevent us from growing beyond them. This is where we fight our own liberation, without realizing we're doing it. On the other hand, this is also where we can reclaim liberation when we become aware of what we're doing.

What if you shifted the question for yourself?  What if rather than "who am I?" the question was "what am I?"  "Who am I?" is a finished question aiming for that pinpoint definition.  "What am I?" can grow and expand organically. What am I made of? What am I capable of? What am I here for? This would open the door to a different way of defining yourself. Perhaps you would look at an inventory of values. Perhaps you would look at your contributions. However you take this question, notice it places you in a context of others and the world, not in a vacuum all alone. There is a natural next step feel to it that will propel you, rather than confine you.

Bringing your awareness to this internal communication that you live with every day is the first step in growing beyond where you've been up to now. Following the same patterns and taking the same actions will yield you the same results. Shifting yourself up out of that predetermined narrative is your road to liberation. When you're conscious that you're more than the story, the self-definition: "it's just who I am," will never lock you in a cage again.

Want to learn more about how to become the best you possible?
 Come visit the web site, or better yet, contact me and see how we can design a program to fit your needs and desired outcomes.

     - Ian J. Blei


Quick Communication Tip

Room to Grow

You’ve noticed that fish and plants have their growth stunted by the size of their containers. Growth requires having space to grow into. Any constraints we put on ourselves will stunt our growth as well. The stories that you tell yourself and others about who you are limit your growth within that storyline. You need to re-pot yourself, so you don’t get root-bound.

Listen to your internal dialogue. Make yourself aware of the narrative that you use to describe yourself. Ask yourself if the story is absolutely a truth, or just what you’ve come up with so far. Ask yourself who you might be if that weren’t true. Would it change how you feel? Would it change what you believe in? Would it more likely change nothing other than how you are limited in your choices?

Want to learn more about how your communication can hold you back or catapult you forward?  Come visit the web site, or better yet, contact me and see how we can design a program to fit your needs and desired outcomes.


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Resource Links:

The Integram Archive - the podcast series

Melissa Risdon's Raving Fan Radio Show:
Ian Blei on the
Integram (TM) -understanding ourselves, each other, and our relationships

KG Stiles: "Conversations that Enlighten and Heal"
Ian Blei on Kind Ambition and the
Integram (TM)

Kind Ambition - 2nd Edition

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ome visit the Blog.



Welcome to the Integram, where consciousness meets intentional design.   Enjoy!



The Optimizer
Ian Blei,
Director of the
Institute for Integral Enneagram Studies and
President of
Optimized Results



Kind Ambition

Click HERE





Kind Ambition:
Practical Steps
to Achieve Success
 Without Losing Your Soul



Kind Ambition
Fan Page
now on



Kind Ambition is about you having the tools to slide over to the driver’s seat of your own life.  Circumstances will always be changing, seemingly thwarting our plans, but we don’t have to be  thrown around by them. You can be in charge of your choices and actions more than you might imagine - yet.


Kind Ambition is written for you, as a practical guide you can use right now.  It is a collection of  insights and actions designed to help you move forward and get more out of your life at home and at work.  The chapters hold to a formula of first giving you a new way to look at things, then offering you tangible Action Steps to try them out, and finally some things to notice when you do.





Kind words for “Kind Ambition”


"If you are interested in success, whether it is in running a large organization, a small business, or leading a satisfying life, you will find a right blend of rules, wisdom and wit in a digestible fashion that will serve to accomplish your objectives. The notion that kindness can be blended with ambition and made to work and serve the "bottom line" is enlightening, uplifting and satisfying."

-Steven Kiefel – CEO, Red Pill Media




“An easy to use guide for anyone who wants to achieve real  growth and success. His sensible and practical tactics solve age-old challenges with real, how-to solutions. Best of all, Ian lives his work!”

-Romanus Wolter - Author: Kick Start Your Dream Business
Success Coach Columnist: Entrepreneur Magazine
Radio Host: Syndicated Kick Start Guy Segment




" We all face obstacles in our lives and careers. Some of these come from within, subverting our conscious intentions. The  good news is: they can be overcome.  The techniques and processes found in this book will help you on your way."

-Margaret Heffernan – Author: The Naked Truth: A Working Woman's

 Manifesto on Business and What Really Matters

Syndicated Columnist: Fast Company Magazine




“A scientifically-based, spiritually-awake, (and smart and funny) guide to making the most of your life.  Ian Blei provides the know-how, the inspiration, the structure and all the tools you need in  this straightforward and inspirational book.”

     -Lisa Betts-LaCroix, Past President of SF Coaches
Star of Unapix film, “Dance Me Outside”




" Ian Blei shares his deep insights in simple and straightforward ways.  His work continues to inspire me whenever I feel I'm getting stuck in some area of my life."

-Roy King, III , Director Pacific Development Partners





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