by Gwen Randall-Young
Back in the 1970s, Jonas Salk wrote a little book called The Survival of the Wisest. This was a shift from the older paradigm of “survival of the fittest.” The concept of the fittest surviving was based on strength, force, aggression, competition and win/lose.
In order to survive and thrive, Salk proposed there would have to be an inversion of those old values so that co-operation, understanding and finding win/win solutions replaced the old polarity/adversarial approach. He was envisioning humans evolving in a more positive direction.
Interestingly, evolution of the species can mirror evolution within the individual. Babies are completely self-centred and it takes years for them to learn to share or to consider the impact of their behaviour on others.
Becoming more evolved is not a given. Looking at ourselves and the people in our lives, we can see a variety of evolutionary levels at play. Consider a situation where someone does something another doesn’t like. The most primitive response is to beat up or even kill the offender. Still primitive, but a little less so, is a verbal attack. More evolved is to talk it over and try to come to some agreement or peace about the issue.
Evolving consciously is a choice. We can either go through life reacting from ego, much as we did as a child, or we can choose to access our inner wisdom and maturity. We have both capabilities within us. It is not always easy to take the high road, especially when dealing with one who is unevolved.
What does this look like in everyday life? We are coming from a more primitive, ego-driven place when we find ourselves engaged in blame, judgment, confrontation, polarity, anger, jealousy or any behaviour that is out of integrity.
We are coming from a more evolved place when we demonstrate encouragement, patience, openness, co-operation, helpfulness, kindness and being non-judgmental.
How evolved we choose to be has nothing to do with those around us and everything to do with how we choose to be in the world. It is easy to be evolved when all is going well. The difficult people and situations we encounter offer us the opportunity to practise being true to our highest self.
Ultimately, the most important relationship is the one we have with ourselves. Are we conducting ourselves in ways that, if we look back tomorrow or in 20 years, we can be free of regret? Are we speaking and acting in ways that could be aired on national television?
Choosing to evolve consciously requires we make a commitment to ourselves to not do or say things that are mean, negative, untrue or lacking in integrity. It requires we do this even in the face of temptation to just lash out.
Sometimes, it means we simply have to walk away from the situation or out of someone’s life. It requires the courage to let others know we will not participate in gossip or negativity. It may mean we lose friends who are uncomfortable with whom we are becoming.
Evolutionary change must first manifest in some individuals in a species. Some will not, in this lifetime, have the awareness that allows them to make more evolved choices. If you recognize the existence of a higher road, choose to walk that one.
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For more of Gwen’s articles and information about her books, Self Care CDs and the new Creating Healthy Relationships series, visit www.gwen.ca.