Have you ever considered “safeguarding” your soul? Suzanne Stabile shows us how to move beyond growing our souls to safeguarding our souls …
Safeguarding Your Soul
By Suzanne Stabile
I’ll never forget where I was when I was first introduced to the concept that I could grow my soul. I had been part of wonderful faith communities throughout my life, but somehow I had never gotten the idea that I could contribute to growing my soul. I had no idea that I had agency in my own development. As I have lived more fully into that idea over the decades, I have added another idea: I believe I am also responsible for safeguarding my soul.
Safeguarding is a kind of care for yourself and your own soul. It isn’t attached to a list of hard and fast rules. It isn’t as simple as don’t have sex before marriage or do wear nice clothes to worship on Sunday. Instead, it has to do with recognizing how you’re put together - how you take in the information that the world or your culture offers to you. Safeguarding your soul is about awareness and discernment. It’s about knowing the people and ideas that may influence you or your thinking in some way.
We are living in a world that is filled with visual and verbal impressions. If you aren’t mindful, these impressions that often come quickly from all sides are only received and interpreted by your primary or dominant center of intelligence. Unfortunately, that mean you are only seeing and experiencing one-third of what’s happening.
Father Richard Rohr has been a kind and gracious friend and mentor to Joe (my husband) and me for many years. I learned the Enneagram from him. I have vivid memories surrounding the first time I strongly disagreed with something Fr. Rohr was teaching. As an Enneagram Two, I filter most information through the lens of my feelings. One result is that I cannot take in information without considering how it will affect the relationships in my life. As Fr. Rohr taught, I thought to myself, “Who am I to disagree with him?” And from there I began to wonder how it might affect our relationship for me to disagree with what he was saying.
Ultimately my ability to respectfully disagree with that particular teaching became a major step in learning to safeguard my soul. We all have choices about who we listen to and who we are influenced by, and those things need to be examined from time to time. Fr. Rohr is still a great friend of ours, but over the years I have disagreed with some of this thinking. To his credit, he has welcomed it every time.
Safeguarding your soul might include things like recognizing that double dates with a couple who constantly fight could have a negative influence on your marriage. It might mean that adult children need to safeguard themselves form intrusive overactive parenting. It could include knowing which books, or music, or movies offer something valuable for your life, and which ones can have the opposite effect.
If this is a new concept for you, you might start with acknowledging which one of the centers of intelligence you use when receiving information – thinking, feeling or doing — and then begin to consider whether or not you feel differently if you use all three.
Soul work is never one and done. While we might wish for instant change or quick fixes, those just aren’t real choices for transformational work. Instead, there is the offer of a lifetime journey. Once we being the spiritual journey there isn’t an end point during this lifetime, just an invitation to keep journeying.
Suzanne Stabile is a highly sought-after speaker, teacher, and internationally recognized Enneagram master teacher who has taught thousands of people over the last thirty years. She is the author of the newly released book, The Journey Toward Wholeness. She also wrote The Path Between Us, and is the coauthor, with Ian Morgan Cron, of The Road Back to You. She is also the creator and host of The Enneagram Journey podcast. Along with her husband, Rev. Joseph Stabile, she is cofounder of Life in the Trinity Ministry, a nonprofit, nondenominational ministry committed to the spiritual growth and formation of adults. Their ministry home, the Micah Center, is located in Dallas, Texas.