life purpose

Finding Your Purpose In Life: Understanding The 7 Levels Deep Exercise

Christian Espinosa - 7 Levels DeepThe concept of purpose is a very common theme in modern society. From movies to podcasts, successful artists, icons, and personalities — the importance of finding one’s purpose is regularly stressed. This is often concluded with the statement that once you do find it, the rest shall fall into place.

It goes without saying, of course, that for something that valuable, finding one’s purpose can be a tricky, arduous, and elusive task. As the saying goes, if it were easy, everyone else would be doing it. As we can see in our society, however, this is obviously not necessarily so.

Too often do we see people who are either lost or confused. Most are also accustomed to just walking aimlessly in their everyday life without direction and simply fulfilling their needs as they come along.

There are some fortunate individuals, however, who perhaps by chance or luck or something else were able to find their purpose — their “why” — early on. Those are exceptions to the general rule.

Thankfully, the general rule need no longer be set in stone. You may not know it yet, but ultimately, you have the power to effectively change your life. You have the power to find your purpose. And one of the many ways you can do this is by following the 7 Levels Deep Exercise.

What Is the 7 Levels Deep Exercise?

The 7 Levels Deep Exercise is a series of deep and philosophical questions that intend to draw out hidden thoughts, feelings, and emotions from the person doing the exercise — with the end goal of leading said person to find out his or her “why” about a specific aspect of life.

The “why?” in this case can be interpreted in several ways, but ultimately, it all boils down to leading the person to find their purpose.

Why Do I Need to Find My Purpose?

Having a clear understanding of “purpose” is crucial to living a balanced, healthy, and successful life. While it may be true that success is capable of varying interpretations and can be subjected to multiple perspectives, it cannot be denied that in order to reach your version of success, having a purpose is essential. After all, how can you know if you’ve reached something if you did not know what you wanted to reach or achieve in the first place?

Purpose gives us direction — a goal to strive towards. Purpose also gives us courage. When we have a purpose and are infused with it, we will stretch our comfort zone. While in our possession, purpose also serves to dictate how we do or act in society, how we lead our lives each day, and how we view or perceive life in general.

What Is the Process?

As the name suggests, the 7 Levels Deep Exercise is done by simply asking yourself 7 questions. Companies and institutions that employ this exercise often modify and change their line of questioning in order to suit their goals and needs, but essentially, these questions boil down to the following:

  • First, ask yourself what you want to do or achieve in life. At this stage, you can answer or interpret the question in any way you want to
  • Second, ask yourself why this is important to you.
  • Third, whatever answer you chose to give for the second step, ask yourself again why that particular response is important to you.
  • Fourth, ask yourself again why that response is something that you deem important.
  • Finally, do this line of questioning three more times, or otherwise, a fifth, sixth, and seventh time.

As you move along down the line — or as you go “deeper” down the levels — you may notice that these are not simple questions, and finding an answer may prove difficult. When you feel lost or become confused, don’t fret! This simply means that you are now opening the doors to your mind, to your heart, and to your emotions to paths that you most likely never knew you had. This path is a road of discovery and enlightenment, and you would be surprised what you discover as you go deeper along the journey.

What Is the Best Way To Do These Exercises?

Before you jump on this path, be aware and careful that just like any journey in life, you may become susceptible to falling into traps or pitfalls.

To minimize the risk of falling prey to these traps or pitfalls, it’s crucial that you’re completely honest with yourself. Lying about your responses benefits no one and showing off serves no important purpose. Be sincere, take your time, and do not be afraid to be too emotional about your responses. The responses need to come from your heart, not your head. The responses need to resonate with you at a visceral level.

Also, when presented with these questions, it’s best that you get someone else to ask them for you. Get a loved one, a coach, a special partner, a family member, or any other person that you trust. This way, you may find it easier to be forthright.

As you dig deeper within yourself, you may sometimes find yourself trapped in an endless loop of “whys”. If the same line of questioning becomes too repetitive to the point that your answers in all the stages are simply becoming recurrent and repetitive, then try to change your line of questioning to “what” or “how”, instead of “why”.

Finally, note that there’s no time constraint to doing this exercise. If it takes you days to answer the questions as you go deeper along the levels, then do so. The most important factor to consider is finding that mine of emotions stored deep within you that only you can find, and no one else.

Take the Next Step Further. Start Today!

In my book about “The Smartest Person in the Room”, I used the 7 Levels Deep Exercise to formulate my own methodology in creating new and improved ways on how to develop better technical leaders — a method I call “The Secure Methodology”.

Under this methodology, I outline 7 important steps that may help individuals develop better interpersonal, leadership, and life skills. In coming up with these steps, I made sure to use the 7 Levels Deep Exercise as my foundation.

You can learn more about these steps and about my Secure Methodology in my book, “The Smartest Person in the Room: The Root Cause and New Solution for Cybersecurity”, available on Amazon and other fine book stores.

Check Out The Smartest Person in The Room

The Power of Questions

christian espinosa - power of questionsWe are always looking for answers. We want to find meaning—something that changes our life. We want to win the lottery or discover the next big stock to make it big on Wall Street. For many, we want to look for answers to fix our careers, relationships, and finances.

What if it isn’t about the answer? Think about that question. Even simple questions can spur you to think about many possibilities.

There are many ways to approach a problem. We often get caught up thinking about answers when what we should be doing is looking for the right question.

The Right Question

What is the right question? Most of our behavior comes from the questions in our minds. It may be a question that has been with us throughout our entire life, often referred to as a “primary question”. It may be a question that helped define our career path or the life we are living now.

By asking yourself the right questions, you stimulate your mind to think of the right answers. It helps move your mind and connect the dots on items you may normally miss. When you ask the right questions, it often helps you focus on the journey that leads to the right answers.

When you do find the answer, the realizations made inspire you to act. These realizations reveal assumptions that you’ve probably made throughout your life. The right questions create change, and it can be a lasting change that helps define your life from now on.

The Path to the Right Question

Before you can figure out the right question, you need to know what the wrong questions are and are not. Let’s look at a couple.

The Right Question Typically Does Not End With a “Yes” or “No”

Many problems come about due to the wrong kind of thinking. We typically cannot get out of a problem with the same frame of mind that got us into the problem. We often think there are only two solutions, two answers. This leads us to believe it is a matter of yes or no and stops our minds from finding a better answer. It’s hard to communicate and change when we perceive a black and white world. For many things in life, it isn’t about a right and wrong answer.

We live in an ever-evolving world. Cultural norms change, technology helps transform the way we live our lives, and new challenges arise all the time. If you want to move forward, you have to be curious and think that there is more than the answer in front of you. Many of us are afraid to ask questions because we fear that it’s a waste of time. Asking yourself a different question gives you a different perspective. It can lead to that eureka moment you’ve always wanted to achieve.

The Question Does Not Start With Why

A “why question” indicates something has already happened and that what has happened is bad. We ask ourselves:

  • Why did this happen?
  • Why am I doing this?
  • Why is this happening to me?

When we ask why questions, it leads us to react defensively. We don’t want to be wrong. More often than not, we do not want to acknowledge the wrong thing in our life as a reality. The wrong question brings about the wrong attitude, which leads to the wrong answer.

The Right Question: How? or What?

We should ask questions that stimulate the mind and focus our thinking in a positive direction. We can get overwhelmed by emotions when we ask the wrong questions. Instead of asking, “Why is this happening?” Ask instead, “How can I change this?”

Instead of accepting our current reality, we think about making things better. Instead of accepting our state of life and getting depressed, we work our minds out of the situation. Another question you can ask is, “What good thing can happen today?” It helps reframe your mind to think positively. It also makes us more receptive to doing work that can produce positive results.

These questions are vital to leaders who have a strong influence. Leaders with a strong influence include self-leadership too. By asking the right questions, you can frame them to focus on the process (solution-oriented) instead of the problem. The right questions help by prompting us to figure out how to contribute to a solution. It helps you identify your root problem because you brought awareness to options and solutions.

Secure Methodology

In my book, The Smartest Person in the Room, I talk about how the brightest aren’t the best people for the job. In cybersecurity, workers often suffer from poor communication, which reflects on the company. Questions that promote insecurity and fear influence them in a negative manner.

In my method for fixing this issue, I talk about The Secure Methodology. The fourth step in that process is communication. For people in certain industries, communication and language become a barrier to growth. Instead of building bridges to connect, we settle with creating walls. It often all ties back to the wrong question. We talk in jargon to portray higher intelligence, which masks our insecurity.

The way to move forward is to nurture each other by communicating in a manner that is understood and asking the right questions. For instance:

Instead of asking, “Why is there a wall?” ask the question, “How can we remove the barrier?”

The right question creates an environment of inclusiveness and a willingness to work together. It conditions the mind to find a solution rather than dwell on the problem. It helps us listen by reframing our minds and simplifying the process.

Questions Are the Path to Better Leadership

Questions are a path to making things better for your life. Whether it is for your organization or the relationships around you, you can create change with the right questions. However, they are only one part of a larger equation. The Smartest Person In The Room covers various steps to help you move from fear to growth to contribution. You’ll find that even though the book leans towards the cybersecurity industry, the message works for everyone.

What is Congruence?

Christian Espinosa - CongruenceIt is often difficult to act in accordance with what we really feel, isn’t it?

We tend to spend our days just trying to get by, and when we ask others how they’re doing, they just give us a small smile and a nod. We tend to ignore it and take those small actions as a sign that they’re doing alright.

But they’re not, right? Not at all. In fact, we can sense it. We know that there might be something going on with them, but we simply chose to ignore it. Why is that? Because we also know how it feels. Like them, we are also disconnected in some way.

Is it possible for us to be in touch with what we really feel? In this post, I explain the importance of congruence in our lives.

Congruence — a Self-actualization

According to Carl Rogers, congruence is when a person’s ideal self is consistent with their actual experience. This means that a person is congruent when their outside actions match what they feel on the inside. In other words, it’s when the behavior of a person matches with how they feel and think about the situation.

With congruence, there is a sense of harmony and agreement between self-image and ideal self. Rogers believed that being in the state of self-actualization will a person only achieve congruence.

Many of us have experienced congruence. I have met lots of people who are excited, eager, and somehow know what they want in life. They understand their wants and needs and act in accordance with what they truly feel.

These people take on the world with their self-understanding and belief. We also tend to trust congruent people more easily. As children, we love teachers who are congruent; as adults, we are attracted to a congruent man or woman. Naturally, a congruent person attracts people and connects with us.

However, there are times and situations when being congruent with our true self is not acceptable.  I cannot really express my dismay, as an example, for a salty dish that my mother-in-law prepared for me as that would probably lead to consequences.

The Power of Desire and Belief

When it comes to alignment and congruence, our desire and belief must line up. We cannot desire something, then have the belief that it will come to us one day without acting on it. To be able to utilize congruence, we must act on it and actually believe that we can do it. We must understand our personal power, apply that understanding to our daily life, take action, and recognize its purpose.

How Incongruence Affects Our Lives

Incongruence, on the other hand, is the difference between a person’s actual self and their actual experience — similar to how most of us really feel. This occurs when our self-image is distorted from our experiences, and our outside actions don’t match our emotions. In order to cope, we tend to deny our real feelings and wear a mask instead.

This is an altered self that we use to face the world. The problem with this is that in this certain persona, we drift further away from being congruent with ourselves until we forget who we really are. This leads to depression, stress, and a constant feeling of being afraid because when we wear a mask, we take away our abilities to connect with people.

A person who is in a state of incongruence may feel a sense of isolation or a feeling of exhaustion. People who are experiencing mid-life crises are often those who get trapped in this scenario. Because of the pressure of life in terms of family, finances, and health, these people often lose track of the things that really matter most in life. They also tend to block out any connections they have with their loved ones, thus leading to losing themselves.

In times like this, what we need to do is disassociate ourselves from our lives, and look at ourselves from a different perspective. We need to assess if we are living a life that is aligned with our values and beliefs. Once we find harmony and balance in ourselves, then we can achieve congruence.

Equine Therapy

The key to finding congruence in ourselves is awareness and mindfulness. We need to accept our strengths and, much more, our weaknesses. We may think that being vulnerable and bearing ourselves to the world is a sign of frailty, but that isn’t the case. Opening ourselves up to the world is the path towards congruency.

I’ve learned that one way to open up one’s self is by spending time with animals. In Equine Therapy, horses are very perceptive animals that have no understanding of congruence and incongruence — yet they are able to sense it. They are rational animals that do not ignore their perceptions, so if they feel that a person is not being real with them, they tend to feel uncomfortable.

When they sense incongruence, they tend to snort and walk away from a person. Many people tend to be afraid of approaching animals because we are scared of what they think of us and their reaction towards us.

However, if a congruent person approaches them and bears their true emotions, the horses will also sense that. Even if the emotion is ugly, the horses will feel that those are real, and they will acknowledge it by coming over and huddling over. For a person to experience this is magical, and similar in real life, once we showed our real self to the world, people will also connect with us. And then we’ll achieve congruence.

The Difference Between Doing and Being

Because of modern influences, we focus on “doing” the things that give us short satisfaction like goals, achievements, and rewards. It gives us a sense of control, and there is nothing wrong with that. We are all just trying to get things done to survive.

However, when we simply do something, we try to deal with it, and if the outcome is not what we expect it to be, we tend to be negative towards ourselves. When we focus ourselves on “doing”, we tend to get so focused on the busyness and distractions that we forget who we really are. In “doing” something, we escape the need for validation for our feelings and emotions.

When we accept ourselves for who we are, our focus shifts to “being”.  This naturally aligns with our congruence and brings freedom to our life. When there are no standards and goals, we focus on being our true selves without judgments, thus leading to a happier life.

Both “doing” and “being” are important in our life, and the key is to find their balance so that we will always be in line with ourselves.

Final Thoughts

Finding congruence and alignment is a life-changing experience, and I wish everyone well on their journey towards happiness.

For leaders wanting to explore more about self-actualization, my book The Smartest Person in the Room covers the 7 Step Secure Methodology that further covers alignment and congruence and how we can utilize it to become effective leaders of ourselves and others.

Other ways to achieve congruence could include therapy (both regular and equine), meditation, and introspection.