Understanding Through the Square and Circles


In the Christian Wholeness Framework, we have 5 steps where the second step is the ‘understand step.’ The details of the understand step can be seen above.

Once a person feels connected [feels S-A-F-E-T-Y, safe and healthy attachment, attended, accompanied and attuned to], we can very easily go on to the second step, the understanding step, to be known. Once a person feels loved, the next thing a person wants is to be known.

Timothy Keller writes “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial.”

As John Warlow writes ‘We need to know accurately to understand each other well. The five circles and the square facilitate profound and wholistic knowing. To understand is to know. When the truth of someone’s story is heard and accepted, it truly facilitates deep healing.’ There is so much to understand in this world, about ourselves, other people and about God! Where do we begin? A good place to start is the square.

In the square, as Christians, our goal is to be God centred, regardless if we are flourishing or suffering. We seek to understand ourselves.

  • How can we be God centred?
  • How can we stay God centred?
  • What pulls us to the left side?

I find the square is useful for simple yet deep understanding of our behaviours but also looking deeper our intentions. What pulls me away to the left side of the square? Is it pride, being in control, greed, materialism, saviour complex, anger, coveting, lust or things not going the way we planned? It could be a lot of things and at any season it can be different things or relationships or even people!

To answer these questions thoroughly and grasp a deeper understanding of ourselves, we need to learn to understand ourselves by being curious, reflecting, being aware, noticing and exploring. We can do this through looking at the circles.

We can explore our social circle (relationships, with God, with other people, with ourselves).

  • Who are the people in our lives?
  • Which relationships are important to me at this stage of life?

We can explore what is happening in our mind circle?

  • What is it that gives us volition [motivation]?
  • What makes us in a happy, sad, angry mood?

What is happening in my physical circle?

  • What is happening to my soma? (body/sleep/diet/exercise)
  • What are the reasons I behave the way I do?

What is happening in my heart circle?

  • What/who is my centre?
  • What/who gives me hope?
  • How do I feel loved?
  • Who am I?

What is happening in my spirit circle?

Remembering, God looks at our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7), “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

As we seek to understand ourselves through the square and circles, I am reminded to be gracious to ourselves. As we learn to understand ourselves, others and God, we can learn to imitate Jesus. To understand ourselves is a life long journey but with God and others, it is journey worth taking.

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