The ego is the sum total of all your smallest ideas about yourself - Robert Holden
As challenges come along in life I notice we are often rush out to meet them in our weakest and most frightened states. Perhaps we've gotten so used to being harried, tired and behind the eight ball that we don't even notice we've rallied up our most inadequate capacities and gone straight out to try to resolve our most important issues.
I have been thinking about the resiliency of the Human Spirit and as I reflected on the nature of all of our "spirit" a rather dis-spiriting idea occurred to me. How many times have I had an important decision, a delicate conversation or a really tough life challenge, and allowed myself to try to resolve it using my poorest mindset? The answer was, unfortunately, many times!
Examples of what I mean:
- agreeing to have "the talk" about your relationship when you are tired or have been drinking
- standing up to confront a co-worker about a bad habit while thinking "that was the last straw!"
- correcting or disciplining children in the heat of anger
- talking to the boss after you've already missed the deadline and haven't slept well
What I'd emphasize in each of these examples is not the situations or the physical states, but rather the mental states.
It is common to all of us to lose our way, lose our temper and address issues when we know that our our mental capacities are on low ebb. Everyone can get stretched and find themselves with less of their normal abilities in any given moment.
Of course it would be great to say that we could recognize this is the case in advance and then be sensible enough not to "go for it." But the very real problem with this is that it is precisely in your poorest mental state that you are least likely to listen to your very good sense.
So is there any good end to this cycle?
As it turns out, there is ...
You know those moments when you 'space out' for a bit? It just lasts a few seconds. But it gives me shivers to think that could apply to a whole life. I have this horrible thought that I might wake up one day and realize I didn't have I life, just a lot of Coach bags. A life who's motto would be "I came, I slept, I shopped."
One of the books that really fed my longing for more awareness and conscious action in my own life is Anthony de Mello's "Awareness."
Please put this book on your 'read before I die' list. De Mello was a Jesuit priest, a delightful, spiritual - and very frank - man who cared about all of us knowing that it was possible to live life awake. He begins the book, which is a transcript of his lectures "Wake Up To Life" at Fordham University by saying we "are born asleep, we marry in our sleep and we die asleep." Not a new idea. One that many other teachers would agree with, from Don Miguel Ruiz to Jesus. The really horrifying this about this idea for me is that we can be asleep, but not even know it. Like in the film, The Matrix.
Watched The Matrix lately? It's interesting that first line.
Wake up, Neo...
Awareness for me is a commitment. I wanted to live 'awake' (I use that carefully, as I try to be mindful of setting up some states as 'good' and others as 'bad') for some practical reasons: so I could stop repeating some old mistakes, not be so motivated by fear and become more open to getting better answers for myself.
It has proved to be a very fruitful place for me to explore. To hear my show on Awareness from December 23rdIt includes Anthony de Mello's 4 ways of taking action to come into greater awareness that you can try out for yourself
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