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Discernment, Part 2: The Floating Self and the Anchored Self

Updated: Aug 25, 2018

Floating Self, Anchored Self, and Infinite Creator

An article by Crystal Little and Doug S., MA, MSW, LCSW

Last week, we introduced discernment as both a way of life (living in liminal space) and a process for making decisions (using intuition and rationality with intention and efficiency). This week we are taking a closer look at ways practicing discernment can teach us how to distinguish between the motivations of our False/Floating Self and our True/Anchored Self [1].

What is the Anchored Self?

The Anchored Self is your True Self. It is who you really are and have always been. Finding our Anchored Self is not about achieving some high level of private morality but Floating Self, Anchored Self, and Infinite Creator rather it is about awakening more and more to who you already are. It feels like no-thing because it is not defined by external validations or wounds. It is unwoundable because it is rooted, anchored securely in the Infinite Creator’s own divine essence.

What is the Floating Self?

The Floating Self is our False Self. It is not the bad self and we do not need to demonize it. It is the self to which we are attached especially in terms of our image that we want to project for others to see. I am enlightened, I am attractive, I am successful, I am liked, I am holy, or I am stupid, I am ugly, I am despised, I am unworthy– these are examples of the Floating Self’s jostling around in the winds of the emotions of the day. The Floating Self is the egoic self and often takes offense or feels the need to defend itself. It is inherently dualistic and strips everything down to binary choices, and then creates the illusion that we have to pick only one of them.

Although I said that the Floating Self is not bad, I do want to state that it is dangerous if that is the only self we know. We can achieve high success, have doctorates and be experts in areas, and still be living almost entirely from our Floating Selves. Head knowledge is not nearly as valuable as gnosis, or lived knowing, based on experience. When our Floating Self is dominant, the lenses through which we experience reality are often cloudy, more dualistic and vulnerable to social programming which has been used to sustain the paradigm humanity has outgrown. However, when we connect with our Anchored Self, our lenses become clearer and cleaner. Anchored Self discernment is a protected process since to connect with our Anchored Selves is to connect with Love/the Divine.

Forming Questions

Forming a question for discernment should happen before you sit down to do a focused exercise. The decision we reach is largely a result of the question we ask. This 7-step discernment process works best if you can narrow your question down to one that can be answered by “yes” or “no.” Forming a yes/no question may be an easy process in some cases. For instance, imagine that you have been offered an opportunity to take on a new project at work or in your community. Your question would be, “Should I accept this position?” But, what if you are faced with a more complicated decision, like, “Why am I here?” or “What role did I incarnate to play in the Awakening of humanity?” “Am I fulfilling my sacred soul contracts; or, have some been fulfilled and it is time to release them?” When your discernment question is broad, you can start to narrow it down by identifying what is “at stake.” [2]

What internal desire does your question speak to? Let’s say your broad question is something like, “What did my Anchored Self incarnate to do at this time?” You could start narrowing this down by looking for themes among what was most life-giving in your daily activities. What brings you joy? As you reflect on the life-giving aspects of life, imagine ways you could give more time/energy to those activities and interactions. When a possible way to engage in more life-giving activities and interactions presents itself, you can then ask a yes/no question about moving forward with the scenario you’ve imagined.

Making a Tentative Decision

Once you make a tentative decision, it may be beneficial to check for the influence of cultural/social programming. When you think of carrying out this decision, what types of questions arise? Questions like the following are usually products of cultural programming in the West: Will this choice make me appear successful to others? Does it make me appear strong and independent? Will this make me happy? Instead, try asking questions like:

  • In making this decision, am I being true to my authentic/Higher self?

  • How will this decision impact others in my life; does it cause unnecessary harm?

  • Does it reflect a heart-centered consciousness?

  • Is my decision for the highest good of the collective, or is it based in my ego-driven desires?

  • Is this a source of joy?

  • Is this something that taps into my talents and gifts—and engages all of my abilities—and uses them in the fullest way possible?

  • Will this be a genuine service to the people around me and to society at large? [4]

Seeking Confirmation

When you have reached a decision, it is time to seek confirmation. Sometimes we receive confirmation through synchronicities; other times we may need to seek confirmation through a different entry point, like reason or a trusted community. One of the fruits of discernment as a lifestyle is the ability to release our attachments to outcomes. Releasing attachment to certain outcomes sounds simple on paper; however, it is quite difficult to accomplish. How many times have situations or decisions we’ve made not turned out the way we had hoped they would? When this happens, we may experience a range of emotions like disappointment, confusion, frustration, hopelessness, sadness, anger, despair, or a dip in self-confidence. Releasing attachment to the outcomes we envision allows us to both quickly process and transform lower-vibrational emotions and create space for the unknown possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead. A good litmus test of whether we are engaging our Anchored Selves or Floating Selves in the discernment process is to the degree we can, indeed, detach ourselves from the outcomes.  Become the witness who sees in yourself the letting go of the desire for outcomes.

Access the Process

After you have received confirmation for your decision, access the process to determine if you need to take a new or revised question through the discernment process or if it is time to move forward with your decision. Sometimes we need to go through the discernment process a few times before we move forward. Yet, guard against getting trapped in a cycle of always asking questions and not actually moving forward with your decision. Sometimes the decisions we reach ask us to step out of our comfort zones; do not use the discernment process to procrastinate or put off taking the action the decision requires.


Attentiveness in discernment always begins with personal introspection and reflection. We must be willing to take an honest look at ourselves, our habits, and daily interactions. The exercise from the first week provides an ideal way to practice self-attentiveness. It is designed to draw your attention to daily events and interactions that may have become routine, habitual, or otherwise slipped by and remained unnoticed. We become more attentive to our behavioral patterns, habits, relationships, and interactions by reflecting on the most life-giving and draining moments of our day. This exercise asks us to pay attention to how we spend our time and who/what we give our energy to. As various themes in our lives become apparent and we identify activities and interactions that are life-giving and draining, we are presented with opportunities for self-growth. Larger questions for discernment may arise through this process.

Spend another day or two this week doing the exercise from last week:

  1. Ground and Center: Use your preferred method. Or, close your eyes. Focus on your breath. Imagine roots growing down from your feet or tailbone until your energy roots connect with the heart of Gaia. Allow Gaia energy to flow up your roots and into your body. Imagine Source energy coming down in a beam, starting at the crown energy center and going down through the root. Ask for a quietness of the ego-self and request that a clear connection to your Higher-Self be established.

  2. Identify the Question: Ask your Higher-Self to reveal moments in your day that were both life giving and energetically draining.

  3. Collect and Consider Data: Imagine a river. Let the events and moments of your day float down the river like boats. As you watch these events and moments pass by, choose at least three that were life giving and three that were energetically draining. Record what your Higher-Self brings forward.

  4. Reflect and Remain Open to Insight: Think about and record why the experiences were either life giving or draining. Close the session by expressing gratitude to your Higher-Self/Universe/Cosmic Web for the day and what you experienced in the process.

A day or so after you have made 5-6 journal entries, start this week’s 7-step discernment exercise with your journal and pen ready:

  1. Ground and Center

  2. Identify the Question: What can I notice about myself when I read my journal entries?

  3. Collect and Consider Data: Read over your 5-6 journal entries attentive to any themes that may appear. Are there patterns among aspects of your daily life that feel draining? What agency do you have in these situations? Where are opportunities to learn from and/or transform these patterns? What themes exist among the life-giving aspects of your life? What brings you joy?

  4. Reflect and Remain Open to Insight: How do themes in your life relate to your Anchored Self?

  5. Make a Tentative Decision: What you will do with the information the attentiveness exercise revealed? Did you see patterns or areas of your life where you can make changes? What, if any changes can you make? Is there a question for future discernment that you can form from your observations?

  6. Seek Confirmation: Use the teachings from this week’s blog to practice seeking confirmation.

  7. Access the Process: Did questions for discernment emerge during your assessment of this process or from themes that presented themselves? Is this exercise something that you found helpful or would like to use again in the future?



[1] For an in-depth look at accessing our Anchored Selves, please visit:

[2] Elizabeth Liebert, The Way of Discernment: Spiritual Practices for Decision Making, Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox (2008), 42.

[3] Nancy L. Bieber, Decision Making and Spiritual Discernment: The Sacred Art of Finding Your Way, Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths (2010), 120-2.

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