Living “Above the Line”

I’ve written previously that there are currently four predominant world views people tend to gravitate to in explaining the world so that they can operate within it. World views are built upon one’s beliefs, values, biases, experiences and interpretations, and are so deeply engrained that they become the ’default’ operating system for our lives. By the time we are a young adult, we have been more fully conditioned to typically see the world through the lenses of one of these perspectives:


Impulsive, powerful, egocentric and heroic characterizes the mindset in this worldview. Powerful beings dominate the scene and everyone is under the control of one powerful leader or group. In this world, the powerful ones give the orders, the underlings obey. This trait or consciousness can be seen in tribal cultures, gang leaders, rock stars, people in the frontiers, or rebellious youth.


The world is under the dominance of one order, one religion or an all-powerful bureaucracy. Those who follow the righteous order are accepted, while those who object to it are subject to ostracism and punishment. Everyone has to follow the code to live in harmony with the society and reap the benefits. There is only one right way to think, and law and order is dictated by that right way/order. May often be predominantly fundamentalist, conventionalist and conformist way of life. This trait or level can be found in religious groups, puritan America, totalitarian societies, and groups that stick to moral codes.


This is the terrain of the over-achieving, scientific and strategic individuals. Dominated by self-interest and will, it marks the growth of the society through scientific and industrial revolution. Instead of succumbing to the herd mentality, people are individualistic, rational and achievement-oriented. Materialism dominates here and the world is a place where success and science rules over everything. This trait can be seen in Wall Street, in the upwardly-mobile middle classes of the world, in modern capitalist industry, and in emerging Asian cultures.


Predominant traits are collaborative communication, networking, human bonding and ecological sensitivity. Set against hierarchy and social institutions, this level strives for bonding and equality among groups. There is belief in and acceptance of pluralism, diversity, and multiculturalism. Communities or groups are valued over individualism. This can be found in movements like civil rights, women’s rights, human rights, animal rights, and diversity.

One key commonality about people who operate predominantly through these world views is that they see their view as the right, best, correct way . . . thereby making all others wrong, bad, or incorrect. Just take a look at this political season in the U.S., and you can see how these four are playing out right in front of us.

We also can combine the aspect that we all, as we were raised from birth on, have been heavily conditioned by one or two of these world views without even consciously knowing or choosing to adopt them for ourselves. Coupled with making interpretations of what is safe and dangerous, right and wrong, or in looking good and avoiding looking bad as we developed, we come of age with so little self-awareness and conscious present-moment thinking capabilities. We go about following the ‘shoulds,’ ‘have-to’s,’ ‘don’ts,’ of those who have come before us in order to fit in, make a living, and try to find some level of success and happiness. So much of our daily activities are conducted without a lot, or any, conscious thinking. We seem to always be in some sort of ‘survival’ or ‘protection’ mode, and fear in its many forms drives our emotions-thoughts-actions-results.

How do some move beyond this hamster wheel of repetitive, self-centric, reactive ways of being and living? They self-reflect and educate themselves on other ways of thinking, knowing and doing. Whether driven by a deep frustration, depression or some type of wake-up call (such as a significant loss of a loved one or job, or by divorce or disease), some wake up to see new levels of reality and are motivated to grow beyond the levels they inhabit. As they expand their levels of awareness, they see more easily how others think, gain more compassion and empathy for others, and further their own development of the emotional-relational intelligences so they can be more of a positive impact and presence in the world.

It all boils down to consciousness – and whether you are living more from the unconscious /sub-conscious programming of your past, or have developed new abilities to live more consciously “in the moment.” In each of the four world views outlined above, most lives are lived in the unconscious mode, where we find ourselves following the values, norms, fears and beliefs of those mindsets without consciously thinking or evaluating for ourselves in the stream of the present moments of our lives. While we think we are awake, and we say we want different outcomes, we are stuck in the thinking that created our current realities, and so our lives remain the same. That’s the basic definition of living more from the unconsciousness than conscious.

As we live unconsciously, we are reactive, feel as if we are victims of life, fault and blame others for our pains and discomforts, have a loss of power, see life as a limited pie from which we have to get our piece, feel separate and alone, and are very self-centered /ego-centric. When we live consciously we are more intentional of our thoughts-feelings-actions, see ourselves as the creators of our lives, take responsibility for our actions, have a strong sense of confidence and power, sense there is plenty for everyone, and experience ‘in-the-flow’ moments and feel more connected. Choices and decisions made with higher consciousness mostly result in better outcomes with less stress.

To simplify our understanding of being more aware, more conscious, I use the concept of “below and above the line.” When we are coming from an unconscious mindset we are operating below the line of conscious awareness, and when we are more conscious we are above the line. It’s an easy way for me to check in with myself regularly during the day to see if I am fully here now in the present moment, or am I in some type of victim-ego-controlling-judgmental-reactive frame of mind. Bringing my attention to the question, “where am I now, above or below the line?,” allows me to immediately self-assess and self-correct if necessary. When I am above the line I communicate better, I connect more authentically with others, I can easily see the root of a problem and offer better solutions, I am more present with others and can be a better coach, and I find I am in the flow of richer feelings of joy, awe, gratitude and peace in my life.

Try asking yourself numerous times a day, “Where am I now, above or below the line?” If you find you are below the line, just observe your mental/emotional state, identify the feeling, see what other feeling would be more desirable in that moment, choose it and just let the energy of the past disseminate from you. If you find you are above the line, find something to be recognized and then appreciate it fully. I know this will work to bring you more self-awareness, which is the core point of personal power we all can tap in to when desired.

Our true power is always and only in the present moment. Self-awareness is what keeps one’s consciousness “above the line” and in the space of peace, awe, flow, connectivity, compassion, completeness and happiness.

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