The Contemplative Discovery Pathway Theory (CDPT) motivates persons to move beyond their hurt, pain and shame to experience the discovery of their authentic self-based in love and gratitude. A developmental model, CDPT postulates that the self follows the step-wise path from the natural self at birth to the shame self and its antithesis, the addictive shame false self, leading to the development of the authentic self and eventually, the contemplative transcendent self (Allen, Mayo, Allen-Carroll, Manganello, Allen, & Singh, 2014).
Life is beautiful. According to the Judeo Christian tradition we are made in the image of God, and are hard wired to seek unconditional love. At birth we have three basic instinctual needs, (a) safety (survival/security), (b) Connection (Affirmation and esteem) and (c) Empowerment (Power & control). These three dimensions represent powerful sources of energy, which interact with each other as a child struggles to develop basic trust. This natural self is vulnerable, fragile and extremely dependent, that is, we are destined to experience people helping people! Even though life is beautiful it is also wounded. And before long we all experience the different variations of our hurt trail e.g. natural disasters, abuse, loss, trauma, victimization etc which leads to feelings of abandonment, rejection and humiliation. These feelings combine to produce SHAME (Self Hatred Aimed at ME). Shame a deep hidden feeling of disgrace, mortification and despair, resulting from the shattering of our deepest and most valued expectations, hopes and dreams. Though hidden and attached to our inner secrets, shame presents its face as anger, depression, addiction, violence, abuse, self sabotage, helplessness, intimacy dysfunction etc.
Deeply painful, shame is attached to many of our childhood traumatic experiences, which involved a shame scene, hurting persons and even witnesses who mock us. Shame and its deeply held secrets is so threatening to the human psyche, that the brain, through a series of neuromechanisms, erects a major defense against the fear of shame, called the Shame False Self. The Shame False Self has three major illusions or false programs for happiness, which are self absorption, self gratification and control. These negative programs for happiness often hijack the meaning and purpose of our lives, causing us to wander aimlessly in the wilderness of fear.
As a result, the Shame False Self is a perverse rescuer. It promises relief, but is a powerful task master, making victims of us all.
Discovery is the breaking apart of the cover of this false self based in fear and shame to liberate our psyche or heart to experience our authentic true self based in love. Discovery is not an event, but a process that involves:
(A) Awareness – that is, opening to the vision of our authentic self so that we relate to our potential rather than limitations. As we release the negativity of our shame experiences through the sharing of our stories, the love from the contemplative atmosphere of the group is internalized, giving us a vision of our authentic self, not only as we are (limitation) but also as we could be (potential). As Marcel Proust said “discovery is not fining new landscapes, but developing new eyes”.
(B) Confrontation of our inner wounded or shame self forces us to face the challenges of our hurt trail. The fact is, what we don’t confront, we cannot conquer or heal. This confrontation with our inner pain and shame can be difficult and requires patience and time.
(C) Commitment – moving into discovery requires a deep internal decision to move toward our authentic self in love regardless of the obstacles or situations of persons that may seek to distract us. Sadly, even though we experience our authentic self, because life is wounded, we often fail and fall back to our defensive shame self. But having the vision of our authentic self, we don’t stay at our shame false self (limitations) but seek to move toward our potential. As we commit to be open to the positive emotions of love, humility, forgiveness and gratitude, we develop increases in self-esteem and well-being manifested by the development of meaningful solitude and empathy that opens us to healing community.
(D) Vocation – our calling in life is to live authentically in love, humility, forgiveness and gratitude, but this vocation is only possible if we are determined to practice these positive emotions in every aspect of our daily life.
The Contemplative Discovery Pathway Theory is the foundation of The Family. The study was piloted in The Bahamas.