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Noble woman in stage coach appearing calm and alert.
Savoir-Faire – noun
1. Knowledge of just what to do in any situation; tact. 

Collins English Dictionary


I have recently been studying The Eastern Orthodox Christian Tradition.  In the French books I am studying, I was interested to discover the term savoir-faire (a French term usually used to describe social grace and knowledge of etiquette) being used to describe wisdom (including spiritual wisdom) in action. The association of wisdom with social grace was something that appealed to me greatly. These teachings I am studying have inspired my article today, in which I borrow from their wisdom freely . . .

A Story of Four Levels of Consciousness

The Characters

The Horses – Our Unconscious Mind – Sleeping consciousness as well as our emotional life and motor reflexes, seeking energy and sustenance, mainly by instinct.

The Coach Driver – Our Waking Consciousness – Ego or what we call “I”. The active force in our day to day lives.

The Statesman – Our Objective Consciousness – Commonly called our ‘conscience’ – The passive judge and external viewpoint to our actions, also known as ‘self consciousness’

The Highest Authority of the Land – Absolute or Divine Consciousness – Perfect awareness of the harmony and perfection of all that is

An allegory

Rather than being born as a single being with one mind and a clear purpose, instead we arrive in this world more like a coach with horses and driver.

Inside of the coach rests The Statesman, a representative of The Highest Authority of the Land, with knowledge of how we should navigate our journey through life in harmony with the world around us.

Our destination is not set and for that we rely on the instincts and the needs of all parties in the ensemble, The Horses as much as The Driver and The Statesman. For our life is an adventure much more than it is a set journey.

But right from the outset, all of us (nearly without exception) experience great difficulty.

Look Out! Our Ego is in the Drivers Seat!!!

The driver sits above in the carriage and without stopping to be advised of The Statesman’s wisdom is free to run to and fro willy nilly, driving the horses in search of all he desires.

Or so it would seem, but in fact The Driver is deceived and only half awake and The Horses are in fact leading.

Ashamed at his lack of control and suffering near constant remorse for the outcome of his clumsy and impulsive actions, The Driver is still unable to admit (even to himself) the fact that he has very little control over The Horses.

When The Driver stops to rest, The Statesman reproaches him and so after a time The Driver leaves The Statesman behind and now travels with the carriage empty.

The First Crisis Looms!!!

But still The Driver cannot hide from the chaos and disorder his carriage is causing all in its path nor from the fact that it is now in a high state of disrepair. Harnesses are broken and axles grinding until at last the carriage runs off the road and is threatening to push The Horses down into a ravine.

Lucky for The Ensemble another traveller stops to assist and after much struggle and grief the carriage is brought back to the track, The Horses rested and watered and some minor repairs made.

If he is wise, The Driver will not attempt to do any ‘patching up’ himself and will certainly not resume his journey without seeking The Statesman he has left behind and vowing to stop and listen to his guidance more often.

The Damage Must not be Patched Over!!!

To reach a point of wisdom or savoir-faire, the carriage must NOT be repaired at this point and the journey NOT recommenced. Instead the present journey must be abandoned and The Statesman called back to offer guidance – and a time of learning and retraining embarked upon.

For The Driver should hardly expect such luck from a stranger next time he loses control of The Horses.

Taming the Horses Without Ignoring their Wisdom

Once The Statesman is found all should now go well, with The Driver stopping regularly to gain wisdom from The Statesman within the carriage. The amount of room he should allow other carriages he passes on the road; when to let The Horses lead and when instead to blinker them; when to heed The Horses panic as a clear sign of danger, without allowing them to bolt causing chaos and destruction; are all lessons The Statesman must now slowly and painstakingly teach The Driver.

The Second Crisis Looms!!!

This is the ideal, but unfortunately the trouble is not usually over.

For where has The Statesman been lodging while watching his carriage career and cavort so recklessly?

Has The Statesman been looking on in embarrassment, terror and panic or has he been consulting with The Highest Authority in the Land gaining wisdom and instruction of how best to tame The Driver that is our ego?

Did you know that your conscience is not always perfect?

Wracked by panic and seized by fear, our objective consciousness, in the role of The Statesman in this story, can become so overcautious and such a critical and derogatory judge of  The Driver, that the journey may now stagnate and falter.

Second guessing each and every action – fear now causes The Statesman to lose touch with the wisdom of The Highest Authority in the Land that he is meant to represent.

This leaves the carriage vulnerable to hijack, thieves and predators alike and again the fate of The Ensemble may rely on lucky assistance. 

This time it is The Statesman who needs humbling and his fears and anxieties tamed (in the same way that the driver has been tamed and given instruction on how to tame and control the horses) if the journey is to reach its potential.

Healing that Critical Inner Voice

The fear and anxiety The Statesman falls victim to when becoming a critical inner voice that torments us- is not the instinctive (and partially positive) passion and emotion of The Horses. Instead The Statesman’s fear is learned and habitual and has caused him to lose touch with his connection with The Highest Authority in the Land that he is meant to be representing.

The Statesman’s composure and balance must now be restored, if The Ensemble is to reach its potential for the journey with all its adventure and promise.

Both of These Crises are Blessings and Not Curses

For if the ego as driver is allowed to continue for too long without coming off the road, he will not be awakened to the fact he has been asleep at the wheel and alerted to his own complete inability to lead. This person may travel too far and wake up one day to find the destruction left in their wake irreparable, their inner life empty and their outer life a wasteland.

Coming off the road is a necessary crisis to wake The Driver up to his lack of control of the horses.

Likewise if The Statesman does not become so crippled by fear that he at last breaks down and reconnects with the wisdom of The Higher Authority (he is meant to represent), he may become a lifelong tyrant towards himself and others, steering the carriage to a purpose in harmony with no one.

So each crisis must be seen as a blessing and its effect on our life allowed to be so destructive that nothing of the old mistaken ways of operating the carriage remain.

The Required Medicine

Ego deconstruction is always painful and usually does not appear without The Driver facing near destruction of the carriage. But ego deconstruction is always beneficial.

The medicine required when this first crisis occurs is the driver educating himself in the management, control and regulation of the horses emotional and instinctive behaviour. This is the medicine we offer called emotional intelligence training and gap work.

Once the ego is tamed, it can then take a role in soothing and reassuring The Statesman as well as seeking guidance from him. Turning to objectivity is a necessary step,  but what if our conscience has begun to panic?

I see this in cases of PTSD and GAD and also with people who simply worry too much.

Destinations dearly sought but never reached and journeys made up of struggle with no joy become the impetous for The Statesman to finally seek the guidance of The Highest Authority.

Included in this medicine is the practice of self soothing (which could also be called faith) and dumping habitual emotions and thoughts that no longer serve our best interests. (We have a program called Baggage Dumper Instant Access that I am launching very soon that has very powerful self help methods for this.)

For our conscience must be of good faith and in tune with its own natural and higher guidance and not a bitter judge that scolds and restrains us.

The Journey Finally Begins

Once on the path and with all elements in order, where will this journey take us? Into a sure but deeper understanding of ourselves and our own nature that allows our character to finally become something constant and reliable when the shifting sand within us is finally made solid and we come to a place where we trust and can live with ourselves.

No longer at the mercy of what lay ahead; we drive on now night and day, through good weather and bad, through times of feast and times of famine as our life’s adventure unfolds to our own wonder around us.

Kim is the author of seven books on the topic of relationships and emotional intelligence.

A prolific multi-media content innovator, Kim has created and shared a library of articles and multi-media educational tools including radio shows,
movies and poetry on 'The NC Marriage', and 'The Love Safety Net'.

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. I was blessed as a student to be introduced to some forms of classic literature as the spiritually and psychologically insightful allegories that they were intended to be, from a very long tradition.

    On the surface the stories are great, dramatic, entertaining and always hinting of deeper realms of truth, challenges and super-natural sources of wisdom, guidance and victory.

    We all love them,… Disney loves them,… but in our modern culture, the true intention behind them has often been “left behind” in the magical swell of the dramatic rendering and telling. Who doesn’t love an “ideal”, or “an innocent” being rescued from undeserved persecution and troubles? Who doesn’t admire a “hero” or long for one to come to their own personal aid?

    But your practical application of the classic “fairy tale” to our own human condition is exactly in line with the original intention of these descriptions. Without knowledgeable guidance, too much of “Life” passes us by on the surface, carrying us right along with it, while we grasp for “clues” to understand what’s happening, or make up our own self-defeating “poor me/bad them” world view, or intensely desire rescue from the downward spiral, while seeing absolutely no way out.

    It is truly a blessing that the (not so) humble “fairy tale” is being given the status it actually deserves,… as a true and faithful guide to the way out of the downward spiral, that too often takes hold of us with its inevitable momentum, in the chaotic and distracting culture we live in. Stopping and re-evaluating our position from a higher standpoint, is one of the best things we can do to help ourselves and those around us.

    Thank you, Kim and Steve!

  2. Hi Kim and Steve

    This sounds like a load of horse shit to me, what makes more sense in my opinion is James: 5 KJV. Thanks for the input at any rate..

  3. Thanks Gak; Thankyou! I actually wrote this piece for my nephew who is just out of drug rehab.

    He is at a point where he can start trying to patch up his old life or instead go back looking for his conscience that he choose to stop listening to a few years ago. Choosing the latter course will obviously be painful but also necessary if he really wants to sort his life out now. I wanted to share with him that we all go through these crises in one way or another and that he should not be ashamed but instead see this as an opportunity for renewal.

    1. It was “news to me” to discover, as a female, that the real “hero” I was romantically waiting for was already within me! I needed to “seek and find” that part of myself (on the cosmic scale, which includes the connection to the divine, and James and the whole KJV!) that knew more than what “ordinary life” presents us with. It is easy to misinterpret things to begin with, and we’re not talking about “magic” here, but a real search for the “truth” that will sustain us.

      Personally, I have never found this truth to be in any way “out of sync” with Scripture, but developing “eyes to see”, and learning to apply it in a real way to myself, is a gradual process in most cases. If I, as a female, had to find the “hero” within myself, I’m wondering if the males are challenged to find and recognize “the beloved” within themselves. It seems logical,… the grand mystery and dance of the sexes does go on!

      1. Yes they certainly do Gak!!!

        The damsel in distress whether she be tied to the train tracks or locked in the tower.

        Steve admitted to me at a very dark time of his life that this “she” danced with him in his imagination with a dagger between her lips. I have never seen him closer to insanity than when he talked about her and I understood that this “she” had a terrible grip on him. I think that probably gets back to the male female thing with pride. Although the hero us girls worship in our minds is just as dangerous, we do not feel the same shame that a man feels about being held hostage by this phantasm.

        I think some people mistake this type of false saviour for Christ when in fact Jesus always gave power to the individual, “Sin no more” puts the onus on us and implies that we are capable of changing our destiny as well as being capable of knowing that we are loved.

        1. I’ve had a feeling that it is harder for men in some way to break through into “(personal) sanity”, but it was hard enough for me as a female to get where I had to go myself. I’m usually comfortable enough to speak with women about my perspective on “things we do wrong and should consider changing”, but I’ve never been able to have the same comfort or success with the male side of things.

          For one thing, I think we face different problems and challenges (internally/psychologically/spiritually), and don’t begin to perceive what they are going through clearly enough to be genuinely authoritative about it. We can only speak for ourselves with personal authority on where we come from, respecting the “work” we’ve done on ourselves, and hope that in setting the proper boundaries and in getting our own legitimate needs met, we are sending the right signals that will be helpful to them to make their own personal compass adjustments.

          It would be a dream come true for me to see more openness and honesty about the ingrained problems that maturing males must deal with. We are way too constrained about this kind of awareness in our culture, by keeping everything focused on an outer plane of events and performance, or surface appearances, which can be very illusionary, and totally avoids “where the rubber meets the road” internally.

          This is one of the reasons I follow your work with great interest! I know we all have greater potential than we have yet discovered “to be real”! (-:

          1. Living with Steve and raising two boys I have had a chance to gain some insights into men!

            One thing I know is that the idea that men should play the field before they settle down hurts them. Men seem more fragile than women in this regard. If the first girl they love rejects them often they never recover. Maybe it is because the pain is so great (as we all experience) but with men there is little understanding shown to them from the world for this. They are meant to be tough and not care and so the situation becomes even worse because it is also seen as weak and shameful.

            I saw it with my eldest boy and was able to help him through it. His first girlfriend was narcissistic in the way she took him for granted and put him down. I never said anything but I would stand up for him in a lighthearted way whenever I had the chance. She broke his heart a few times without leaving him and I was glad to see him get stronger and wiser. In the end he broke it off and she was devastated. We were all sad about it really because she had become family. I was proud of his strength however. His girlfriend now I am sure he will marry. Some people comment that it is strange or weird that my son has been so serious about his girlfriends so young. Especially since he is handsome and could have a hundred girls without getting serious but instead he has had two very steady girlfriends. I think it is sad and strange that people think this weird.

            The world reacted against people marrying too young – but was the opposite any more successful? It may be better for women but it seems to have hurt the men in this world as far as I can see. They want the first girl to be the right girl and if that works out they stay committed. I see this in so many of the successful marriages I know of. Most were teenage sweet hearts. I don’t know the answer but it is in there somewhere.

            Luckily my daughter is great friends with (and loves) a boy for whom she is his first love. She broke his heart a few years ago and Steve took him out for coffee and talked to him and said she is young give her time. She went out with another boy who was more of a bad boy and he broke her heart but taught her a lesson. The first boy (still waiting) with his open and honest devotion suddenly didn’t look so foolish or naive. They are steady now and both so happy and easy together. When she gets jealous of other girls liking him he is kind to her but says, “It’s good because I know you really love me now!” Most people would say they are too young and their relationship doomed (my daughter is 17 and he is 19) but I say Phooey! We help put castle walls around those two to help them protect what they have right now. My daughter knows that the way he loves her is something special and sacred. There is no competition for the love in his eyes and she knows it. What is that worth? Should I teach her that she is too young to know what she wants or instead should I teach her to treasure that? I have chosen the later and will stand by that. If he marries my daughter without having had another girlfriend (and after having waited for her) I think that makes him more of a man not less of one.

            1. This illustrates a very important point to me,… the difference between finding a “true” path and identity, and being on a false one. There really is no way to magically turn one into the other, although if one sees correctly and recognizes the dangers of a false path, it is possible to correct the way one is going.

              My whole personal family is mostly guys, and fortunately rather well adapted ones. My insights into this staggering interpersonal dilemma came from marrying someone who purported himself to be much more together and benevolent than he actually was, and I was completely blind-sided.

              However, the “up close and personal” experience (with brokenness and embedded psychological evil) that I therefore had, opened my eyes and awareness to just how twisted and deep some of these hidden human problems can be.

              I’m a firm believer in the power of Real Truth to set us free, and therefore also believe that trying to unravel the dynamics of complex strongholds on the human psyche (female usually differing from male) can be a worthwhile effort ~~ not to become consumed by it by any means (dangerous!) ~~ but realizing that there may be some trends and answers to discover that might be helpful in shining some helpful and guiding Light into some of these sad and persistent areas.

              Becoming wise at a young age about the things that are true and really do matter, is probably the best way to secure a more positive future. & I would highly recommend this!

              Not everyone is called to discover and fight hidden dragons! But there is healing possible for those who do. Some people want to change and improve and become more freely their true (God designed) selves, and some apparently don’t. There are no guarantees in the confrontations with gratuitous evil, and no real reason to seek it out if it can be avoided. Some of us have been brought closer to an edge of awareness that does compel us to try and find ongoing solutions,… Light shining into Darkness.

              (Darkness loses its power to proceed “as usual” when exposed by “Light”!,… this is always our motivation and our hope!)

  4. Hi Rhonda, I assume you mean James Chapter 1 verse 5 about seeking wisdom from God? Funnily enough that is exactly what this piece is about. Sadly it is much easier to talk God’s ear off than to listen for guidance! The problem is that inside of each of us there is more than one will. Our ego must first develop humility and our conscience faith for our character to be such that this guidance become something solid in our lives that we can count on daily.

  5. Here are a couple of useful concepts for people concerned with these things. From my point of view, as a young person, I was more focused on the INTER-personal dynamics of life and relationships.

    The “bumps in the road”, where things weren’t going so well, caused me to become a “seeker” in regard to many aspects of life. I began to realize early on that our surface-y way of taking things for granted, and expecting everything to “just work out” fine all by itself (like a scripted movie for my own personal benefit!), was actually not the way things were happening! Big Oops! going on here!

    So, my “surprise” was to find out that there is a very important INTRA-personal aspect to things, by which we learn to “know ourselves”, discover things that are functioning well, or that are “out of order”, and are our own responsibility to acknowledge and adjust.

    In other words, work WITHIN ourselves is probably going to be necessary for the situations BETWEEN ourselves and “others” ~~ (who are willful “free agents” in their own right, and not just something we can simply “dictate” our own will to and expect them to automatically and happily conform! ha ha) ~~ to develop properly in a healthy manner, or to be recognized as inappropriate and not necessarily something we need to be involved with on a continual basis.

    I was “convicted” of my own blind willfulness and stubborn pushiness at an important point in time, and learning to voluntarily see this and “put on the brakes” was a very freeing accomplishment that had important intra- and inter- personal effects. Being able to discern what was truly of value, vs. what was imaginary and/or unhelpful/destructive, gave a whole new perspective on how to live and what to live for.

    The beneficial result of being able to give myself and others more love, respect and space, has yielded a better kind of life that is not consumed with endless activities and noise, but yields plenty of time for reflection, appreciation, learning, and encouragement. For me, it is a much better way.

    1. p.s.,… As far as being “convicted” of a kind of automatically occurring willfulness in my youthful nature (not uncommon, I’m sure!), one of the “insights” that really helped me pry myself off of being too attached to (and forcefully assertive of) my own point of view, was the realization that if I had to demand/force/coerce a certain result, it wasn’t nearly as worth having as if it would have come about spontaneously and willingly from the other person.

      I became more able to allow patience to have its perfect work in the final analysis, and was quite surprised to find that intentionally waiting for (while hoping and expecting) a “better/(more genuine) response” took a lot of the pain and sting out of not immediately “getting my way”. Respect for my own thoughts, combined with respect for the thoughts of others (even if I disagreed!), led to more calmness in discussions. Time is really on our side! Little by little, if we’re open to it, we can find much better ways of “being”. (-:

  6. In this way, ideas shared with others become more like “seed sown” in (hopefully) good soil that can grow/(develop) into better mutual understanding over time ~~ (or not, as the case may unfortunately be!) ~~ rather than like aimed rocks coming from a slingshot demanding an immediate response (which is quite often going to be automatically negative)! A good idea may take awhile to digest, mentally and emotionally,… our trust in its validity and patience in waiting for a response are also an important part of our communication processes.

  7. Thanks for this discussion or exchange…. I appreciate it & I think that my understanding has been expanded some….

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