When we were kids, our parents had specific parenting styles that subconsciously affected our growth. It could be how we behave, think, or even small habits. These can be directly traced back to our childhood. But now that we are adults, it is still conditioned on us, and we find it challenging to navigate through it. Marissa Ingrasci is a Hoffman Process Teacher based in Los Angeles, California. In today’s episode, Marissa talks about the Quadrinity model that describes the four aspects of self and how it helps us navigate through our personal growth and transformation, liberating us from the patterned ways we unconsciously learned from childhood.
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Quadrinity Process With Marissa Ingrasci
I'm here with Marissa Ingrasci of the Hoffman Process. Marissa was one of my four trainers when I did the Hoffman Process in Petaluma, California. Why I signed up and registered to do the Hoffman Process is I was looking to close some gaps in how I lead, how I organize my work life and how I pick and choose people to be in my circle. Here she is. Marissa, would you tell us a little bit about Hoffman Process and yourself? We'll then get into deeper questions.
The Hoffman Process is a week-long retreat. It's our primary offering. We're a nonprofit organization. We offer it on both coasts. We have a campus in Petaluma, which you were at with me, and then in Connecticut. It's a little bit hard to describe what the Hoffman Process is but it's personal growth and transformation looking through the lens of the family of origin, how we learned patterned ways of being to navigate our childhood unconsciously.
It has nothing to do with having good or bad parents. It's the human condition of what we picked up, how to navigate and then looking at those ways of being, those patterns of behavior, changing and transforming because what worked then doesn't necessarily work so well as an adult. That's a bit about the Hoffman Process. I'm a teacher of the Hoffman Process and a coach.
To be clear, if you're looking for liberation at work, you're probably also looking for liberation everywhere in life. Part of liberation is having an empowering context to operate from, live from and work from. It all begins with cultivating the leader inside. Marissa, let's begin with you distilling the four aspects of self.
We teach this quadrinity model. That's the word that Bob Hoffman coined many years ago to describe the four aspects of self, which most people will find pretty familiar. Most people are familiar with mind, body and spirit. This adds the emotional self into the picture. What we consider the four aspects of self are our intellect, emotional self, bodies and spiritual selves. Spiritual self simply means higher self, intuition and authenticity. It's not something outside of ourselves. If I were to describe who the internal leader is, that is what we call your spiritual self. You at your essence without those patterns learned in childhood.
Without the defensiveness, annoyance, agitation, hyper sense of urgency and all that stuff.
Without all of that and so many other things.
Our intellects attempt to keep us safe. It's counterintuitive. It doesn't usually work.
Tell me a little bit about intellect. What do you mean by intellect?
What we're referring to is that mind aspect of the thoughts that go through our minds, the belief systems that we have in place and limiting beliefs. Most people don't even know that the beliefs they have are limiting. They think it's just the way the world works because that's what they were taught. When we're referring to intellect and the patterns of the intellect, we're talking about all that kind of stuff, the limiting beliefs, the intellectual patterns, overthinking, over-worrying and obsessing.
Does the intellect have any positive qualities?
Yes. We need our intellects for good judgment and discernment and for so much. It's important certainly not to demonize our intellect, even though it can oftentimes get in the way when it's activated in that negative sense but our intellects keep us safe every day and help us make good choices.
I remember once I was in a neuroscience class. They talked about the two hemispheres of the brain. There's the right hemisphere, which is the more creative and intuitive. You can see the whole. The left hemisphere is about structure, systems, process and categorizing. Intellect is us when we're operating with an integrated right and left hemisphere. We're above the power and freedom line.
We're in courage, engagement, innovation and synchronicity but where it becomes a dark little demon is when we're in frustration, fear or despair because down there, then the intellect gets the best of us. That's that voice that is telling us who we're not and what's wrong with everybody on the planet, including us.
I want to add too that even though we have what we would call patterns of the intellect, it's also normal. We need and are wired to have a negative bias in our brains. It's what over the evolution has kept us safe. It's better to mistake a stick for a snake and keep ourselves safe. Over time, certainly in our modern culture, negative stuff sticks like glue.
Oftentimes, the positive stuff is like Teflon, it slips right off. I'd say most people struggle with being able to recognize what they do well and can be hyper-focused on what's wrong and what they could have done better. There's an emotional component to that too certainly but our intellects attempt at keeping us safe. It's counterintuitive. It doesn't usually work.
Let's talk about the emotional self because that's the second piece. There is no order. Is that what you said?
There's no hierarchy, aside from the spiritual self. That's the leader.
Talk to me about emotional self, good and bad.
Your emotional self is the feeling component of us. Certainly, the positive aspects of our emotional selves are being able to connect deep empathy with other people and access to our full range of emotions. I feel like anger, grief and fear get a bad rap. It's important to be able to access those emotions because it gives us information about our environment. If we're feeling fear and we're in touch with our fear and what that feels like in our bodies and emotional self, that can keep us from real danger.
Positive qualities are being able to access that full range and feeling joy, spontaneity and all of that connection to presence. Negative components of our emotional selves are getting stuck, habitual feeling states and moods. Addiction resides in our emotional self, procrastination, habitually feeling not good enough and shame. We can get stuck in grief. We can even get stuck in being happy all the time.
Moods when left unattended or unaware of turn into personality traits. Personality traits when left unattended or unaware of become the way the world is. You've got the happy Mary, everything is great, not paying attention to fires going off all around her, like Reese Witherspoon in that show Little Fires Everywhere. The same with agony, if one thing is agony and I get so used to being in that mood of despair, then I can't see my way out of that. That's the emotional self. Let's talk about the body.
The body is amazing because it is our physical dwelling that holds all of our aspects.
The body is amazing because it is our physical dwelling that holds all of the aspects. Positive qualities of our bodies are our mobility, immune systems, physical contact with the world, access to our senses, navigating the world around us in that physical sense and physical connection with other people. It's important to note that all patterns, the negative components of both the intellect and the emotional self also live as a contraction in our bodies. For anyone reading, you might think about a recent time when you were in one of those habitual feeling states or a time when you were obsessing that your intellect was on overdrive, thinking about trying to cross reference how everything could go wrong in a particular situation.
Notice the toll that it takes on your body because all of that, however subtle lives as a contraction in our bodies. It shows up in the form of headaches, backaches, ulcers and high blood pressure. There's that. Our bodies also can have their patterns per se. The lens through which we look is the family of origin. I'll invite everyone to think about certain tones of voice that you hear coming out of your mouth that are familiar to a parent or person who took care of you growing up, how even posture you see family members walking next to each other and oftentimes their gait is the same or someone hunches in a particular way as a parent. We very much mirror the environment in which we grew up. Our bodies take on somatic shape and patterning as well.
Also, the body gives signals when something is wrong. When you learn to pay attention, you can almost feel your body getting agitated before you get agitated because there’s some ping or pong in the body. That's been powerful.
Our nervous systems are great information for us. We know that trauma is stored in our bodies and nervous system. Oftentimes when we're triggered by something, we do notice it in our bodies first before our intellect is able to put words to it or try to explain what's happening to us.
Spiritual self. In the Coaches Training Institute, when I got certified, they used to call that the captain and then everything else was the crew. Tell me about the captain, the spiritual self. The last thing I want you to answer with regard to that is, how do I find that? Where is it?
The captain or the spiritual self is who we are. It is us at our essence, goodness and authenticity. That's a lot of words for, “Wouldn't that be nice? That sounds wonderful. How do I do that?” One way that I guide people to recognize this part of themselves is to think about a time that you were at your best, whether it was a time with family, friends, at work or in a creative project. Most people are familiar with at least glimpses of times in their lives like the birth of a child. When time goes away and sometimes people describe it as being in the flow, being present, not aware of time and space. We've all had moments like this in our lives.
That is our spiritual self. The work of the Hoffman Process is to recognize that all of these patterns, whether they were developed and show themselves through the intellect or the emotional selves expressed through our bodies are not who we are. At the core of who we are is goodness access to intuition, the ability to make good decisions and be led without having to know what to do. That's hard. That's about surrender. It's not about living there all the time. I don't think that's even possible but it's about getting familiar with that version of ourselves so that we can access it more frequently.
Towards the end of the show, we're going to do a quadrinity check. Marissa is going to take us through that. That is a great practice to get access to all four aspects of self. We'll be doing that. Talk to me about the right road and the left road. What does that mean? When we were getting ready for this, I was watching that show. The name of the movie is Belfast. It’s this child that's eight years old and is living through this war zone over religion in his neighborhood. This is in modern-day times.
In the ‘70s, this was going on and maybe even later. He goes to a priest and Sunday mass. They were not Catholics. They were the Presbyterians. The minister says there's the right road and the road to hell. I laughed because I thought of Hoffman. The left road is not the road to hell unless your left road is left. I'm not talking politics either. Let's make it clear. Right road, left road, what does it mean? Why do you have it? Why is it one of your distinctions in your training?
We don't hold it in a dogmatic sense but that clip from the movie is an interesting parallel in a certain sense. What I hear you say when you talk about that is hearkening back to the choice, that there is a choice. It's very binary, left and right or right and wrong. We use it at the beginning of the week to help make a distinction. What we guide people through by the end of the week is that there isn't such a huge distinction in our lives. We are always at a choice point. It's important initially to look at the difference between the two so that we're aware of what the choice is.
That's the reason why we use this left road, right road. The imagery that we have with it is there is a stop sign in between the two roads. There's a fork in the road and a stop sign. The stop sign says choice. The mess of it is that life happens no matter what. The pandemic is a great relatable thing that happened to all of us that wasn't our fault. That happens in life. Things happen that are out of our control, whether that's in the form of losing our jobs, being laid off, the death of someone close to us, someone breaking up with us or cheating on us.
Life events happen. It's up to us to navigate authentically. One of the tenants of the right road is my life is my responsibility. Whatever happens to me in my life, I am responsible for my responses. My life’s responsibility is the ability to respond. When we look at left road stuff, that's all programmed but the virtual ways of being. Think about something bad happening or something that you don't want to have happen, happen. Whether it's something you could anticipate in the future or something you've already been through, you could immediately jump to the 3 to 5 ways that you'd get in your way.
It's like, “I would withdraw, beat myself up, blame someone else, go into the care-taking mode or be hypervigilant and defensive.” That's old news. We know exactly how that's going to play out. Most people would be able to go through the sequence of events. “If I'm fired, then I'm going to go do this and that. I'd get pissed and tell someone off. I'm going through what someone might do.” It's important also to become clear about that old programming. When we're not clear about what it is that we individually do, we think it's who we are like, “I can't help it. That's what I always do and who I am.”
Another tenant of the right road is I am not my patterns. I'm not these learned ways of being. Am I somewhat predisposed to go into them because of my history? Our patterns are also neural pathways. We put a lot of tread on them. Are we bad people for going into them? No, yet when we become aware of what they are, we also become aware of when we're going into them and using those old defense mechanisms and coping mechanisms that no longer serve us. That's why we differentiate between left and right.
Information is not transformation.
It's funny because I've been involved in this work. I teach it in a different way for organizations and cultures. I'm a coach. What we're doing is helping people make choices. It always amazes me when people don't think they have a choice in how they respond. There are a lot of layoffs happening and they're going to continue to happen. People are going into victim mode.
A performance review comes along and somebody gets a score that they're not happy with. Instead of saying, “I am 100% responsible for this score and this is how I am going to shift,” they automatically turn it into that there's something wrong with the manager. That's sad. To me, that's the antithesis of liberation. Until you can take and hear feedback about your performance, like an owner of your life, you repeat those patterns wherever you go.
It doesn't change. Just the faces of the people you surround yourself with change. Maybe when you're 45 or 55, you say, “This thing has been the way it is for 25 years.” If there was one thing you could say to everybody that's reading, when it comes to being trapped in the habituated pattern and telling the truth to yourself about the impacts of that, like living life that way, what would you say has been your biggest learning?
You said something important, being able to recognize what the costs and consequences have been of being in those old patterns and ways of being. That’s part of the awareness of tapping into what has happened in my life as a result of not taking responsibility for my reactions and responses or happiness. The right road is not all roses, rainbows and happiness all the time. When we're confronted with something like job layoffs, the illness of a loved one or the death of a loved one and this is part with access to a full range of emotions, on our right road, we are going to experience grief, anger and fear. What differentiates the two roads is how we meet that emotion.
The right road is oftentimes awkward because we don't have the same tread on it. Think of something that you could think of the 3 to 5 ways you'd get in your way in that situation. When we're talking about right road stuff, it’s like, “I'm stepping into the unknown into a mystery of discovering as I go along what it means to be present and take care of myself and at times, what it means to assert myself and have a voice.”
That can sometimes be awkward because there isn't as much tread on that right road. I always encourage people to be kind and gentle with themselves as they embark upon this work and any work. Personal growth work is about choice and self-responsibility, whether it's often a process or something else. It is work. It's hard. To be kind and gentle with ourselves is so important.
That's a good transition to the next point. If you want to make a life change, let's say you are laid off, you got a bad performance review or you walked in and your spouse said, “I'm out,” or anything devastating that would normally put you in a spin cycle of disbelief, frustration, fear and pain, we call it being below the line at KeenAlignment, we talked about the need for a guide and/or a process like going at it alone.
You could read a book on this stuff. There is a book called The Hoffman Process. There are books from Fernando Flores on transformation and trust. There are books I'm sure about Werner Erhard, The Landmark Forum, Erhard Training and Lifespring. What's the difference between a book and a class, whether it's the Hoffman Process or any training?
One of my favorite phrases that define or explain what you're talking about is that information is not transformation. Information is good. Our intellects need to be able to wrap our minds around concepts and get behind them. “I agree with this. I'm in alignment with this.” That's important. We learned this stuff talking about Hoffman Process because we looked through the family of origin but we learned these habitual ways of being before our intellect was even developed. Most of it is so young that we mislearned about who we are and what we needed to do to belong and feel loved in our families. We took this stuff on unconsciously. It's counterintuitive to believe or think that you can think your way out of something that you learned before you could think.
Our intellect is fantastic and helps us so much, yet there are many things including shame, which is a normal part of being human that we feel on this core, deep level that no matter how much we think about it is not going to change and transform it. When you're talking about a guide, I believe that experiential work is the most effective form of transformation, to be in an environment in which you're led through experiences that allow you to get out of your head. Even talking about the quadranity or a left road or right road, these are great tools. Without the experiential piece of knowing what it is to disidentify from patterns and know that feeling of what it is to be innately good becomes more information, which is good information.
When you're talking about a guide, whether it's the Hoffman Process, another process or a workshop and for some people, it leads them to plant ceremony, all of that is all good. I have found that it is important to have a path that you're guided on. We don't know what we don't know. It takes oftentimes someone else to hold a mirror up to us to be able to challenge us or see what it is that we're missing. Some of this work you can do on your own. I find that the powerful transformative work happens in the community.
I have a coach and I work one-on-one with my coach but I'm almost always in a community-based class because you learn through other people's experiences. If you're in a pattern and that is your habituated pattern, it's hard to see when you're in the pattern when the only person you're talking to is yourself. It’s self and self. “Is this a pattern? I don't think it's a pattern. This is a good pattern, even if it is a pattern.”
All the rationalizing comes from a different Hoffman teacher, Ed McClune. I'm sure he got it from somewhere too. Fight for your limitations and they’re yours. That is often what we do. I’ll speak about the Hoffman Process because that's my experience. You're being challenged to think or look at things differently. Someone is saying, “Reflecting on you, it seems like this is the only way that you know of to be. You're fighting for your limitations here.”
It allows someone to be able to look and say, “Maybe I am. Have I ever considered that there is a different way to approach this?” When we're trying to do this stuff on our own, one of the ways that we can get in our way is through rationalizing and fighting for our limitations. “I can't change because of this and this. I need to be this way.”
It's counterintuitive to believe or think that you can think your way out of something you learned before you could think.
One of the things I'll say that I was happy about and impressed with is when I went to the Hoffman Process. Some people are practitioners and make a living through therapy, coaching, leading meditation, yoga and companies. They were all there to up their game. When you're on the learning journey and you have a growth mindset, there's nothing that isn't possible for you through taking on yourself. It's always powerful to do it in partnership. What I'd like to do is tell people how to find the Hoffman Process. I know you have something on Instagram where it's welcome and open so share all that and then we'll do a quadrinity check.
Our website is HoffmanInstitute.org. You can get information about who we are and what we do. We're a nonprofit organization. We do award partial scholarships to do our courses for anyone who needs that. Our Instagram is @HoffmanProcess. If you like the quadrinity check I'm about to lead you through, we offer them every day on Instagram live. Every morning at 8:00 AM Pacific, we do a quadrinity check-in. In the evenings at 6:00 PM Pacific, we do appreciation and gratitude. Anyone can join. You don't have to have done one of our courses to join in. You can be a part of the community and get a little taste of what we have to offer.
How my buddy got introduced to Hoffman was through doing quadrinity checks on Instagram. Let's do one I'm excited.
This is a mindfulness meditation that will allow you to check in and access each of those four aspects of self. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out. Become aware of your body. Notice your body sensations, places that are tenser and more relaxed. Notice your breathing or your heart beating but tune in to what's going on with your body without any judgment.
From this awareness, ask your body, “What do you need or want from me now?” Trust whatever comes. It may come in the form of sensation or you may get a word or a phrase and then send some loving appreciation to your body for all it does for you, for its mobility, being able to connect with yourself and others. Say softly out loud, “Thank you, body.” Notice how your body responds to being seen and acknowledged. Take a deep breath in and out.
As you shift your attention to your emotional self, this is the emotional feeling part of you. Tune into what you're feeling at this moment. You may be feeling more than one thing at the same time, even conflicting things at the same time. We're always feeling something. Find 1 word or 2 to name what you're feeling. Sometimes it's also helpful to get a sense of how old you feel at this moment. Our emotional selves can regress in age. Ask yourself, “Emotional self, how old are you?” Trust whatever you get.
From having tuned into this important and tender part of you, you are better able to ask your emotional self, “What do you need or want from me now?” Trust whatever comes. Send loving appreciation to this aspect of you, for letting you know what you're feeling on the inside, connecting with others and empathy. Say softly out loud, “Thank you, emotional self.” Notice how your emotional self responds to your gratitude and being seen. Take another deep breath in and out as you turn your attention to your intellect, the thinking part of you, your mind.
Notice at this moment any thoughts that are going through your mind without attaching to them or needing to change or fix them. Also, notice the quality of your intellect at this moment. Is it racing, foggy, going through a to-do list or checking out? Maybe it's focused but there's no judgment. It's just loving awareness and noticing, “What's going on in my mind?”
From that loving awareness, you can better answer this question. As you tune into your intellect, ask your intellect, “What do you need or want from me now?” It might be something simple like, “I want to be heard by you.” Listen to what your intellect needs or wants. Say softly out loud, “Thank you, intellect.” Notice how your intellect responds to your gratitude and being seen.
Take another deep cleansing breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. You can even let it out with a sigh as you turn your attention to your spiritual self. This is you at your best. You can take a moment to reflect on a time that you felt connected to yourself in the flow, present and spontaneous even. Call to mind other qualities that you know to be true of yourself when you're at your best.
This can include good boundaries, being able to speak up for me, confidence and trusting myself. As you breathe in those qualities that will be unique for each of you, embody them. Notice how your body posture naturally shifts as you breathe and take on those qualities that are true of you at your best. Take a few more deep breaths into this place of grounded knowing. This is you. You are spirit embodied but from this place, ask your higher self or your spiritual self for a message. Trust whatever comes.
It may be a word or a phrase, an image, lyrics to a song or a felt sense. Take a moment to send appreciation and thanks to this wise aspect of you, a magnificent version of yourself that is connected to your path, inner wisdom and inner knowing. Once again, bring your attention back to your body. Notice your body sensations. You might even wiggle your fingers and toes, bringing yourself back into your body. Notice again what you're feeling in this moment and then allow your eyes to open.
That’s a great beginning to the rest of my day.
That's a quadrinity check-in.
Thank you very much, Marissa. I appreciate it. Whether a person is interested in doing Hoffman or having liberation at work, we gave them lots of good nuggets and new meditation practices. I appreciate you. I look forward to seeing you soon.
Thank you for having me.
About Marissa Ingrasci
Marissa Ingrasci is a Hoffman Process teacher and coach. She holds a BA from Emerson College and received her coaching training through the ICF-approved, Academy of Leadership Coaching & NLP. She is also a certified NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) coach. Marissa lives in Los Angeles with her dog, Arthur.
The Hoffman Institute Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to transformative adult education, spiritual growth, and the personal dimensions of leadership. Our primary offering is the renowned 7-day Hoffman Process.