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Lean Into the Matrix - Part 3: The Doors of Perception & Integration

There is a moment in the Matrix - after Neo is pulled out of the Matrix program - where he realizes that what he thought was his whole world was actually just a small portion of the fuller reality. He was living in a very limited simulated reality and confined by both the constraints and bounded potential of that program. After being “freed” from the Matrix he becomes aware of these false limitations and his greater potential.

When we come this point in our own lives, it can be a very profound and disturbing moment. It is an invitation – a demand, actually - from the psyche to stop living small and step into the life that is destined for us. Neo is forced to start to seeing life differently, himself differently, and his “work” in the world differently. For some it can be too much. Even Neo “pops” (i.e., vomits) when he begins to grasp the magnitude (and responsibility) of this new reality. For some, it is too much and they force themselves back into the captivity of their small life. But for those that are up for the adventure, then the profound work of integration begins.

Integration, like most worthwhile things, must always occur on two levels – the individual (internally) and the collective (externally). At the individual level, when we make the effort to see our fuller reality, then we become aware that we are a composite of many aspects. The easiest to become aware of are:

  • Our ego (i.e., who we think we are): Psychologically, the ego is not meant in the negative way that we often use it. It is the part of us that we are conscious of and it is also the way that we interact with the world – “I” do this, “I” do that, this happened to “me”, etc

  • Our personas: the various images that we want others to see us as.

  • Our aspirational self: who we hope to become and what we strive toward being).

We are also made up of several semi- or unconscious aspects:

  • Positive shadow elements: areas where we are better than most, but don’t give ourselves credit for.

  • Negative shadow elements: aspects of ourselves that we have devalued or rejected.

  • Our complexes: deeply engrained, but outdated, scripts that take over when we are triggered and force us into unconscious thought loops or reactive behaviors.

  • Finally, but most importantly, the Self (with a capital “S). The Self is that unknowable force that always supports us and constantly pushes us to our highest and best purpose in life.

All of these things are at play in our day-to-day interactions and choices, but we are rarely aware of them and their effect on us. We think we are making our own decisions, but more often than not, we are just playing the scripted role that the most vocal or forceful aspect our psyche (in that moment) is dictating. If you are interested in going deeper with this “current state psyche mapping” work, please reach out to me.

The external applications of this are much easier to grasp. We work in teams all the time and seldom come close to realize anything close to the full collective potential. Why? Because of lack of integration. We know relatively little about our fellow teammates – especially their hopes and fears, disappointments, and joys. How can we expect to engage an motivate the full person when we know so little about them? We also engage in suboptimal communication that leaves much ambiguity and results misunderstanding or conflict. Similarly, we often are working toward different goals. This is why tools such as behavioral analysis (and discussion), alignment sessions, process mapping, and many other visual management tools are so important. They enable us to engage more of each individual and in such a way that enables synergy and commitment to common objectives. When we are integrated internally, we align our different aspects and use that cohesive energy in service of our highest and best purpose. When we truly integrate in our teams, the potential is exponential. As Wiliam Blake wrote in Marriage of Heaven and Hell (

If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.


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