I exist as I am, that is enough.
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content.
One world is aware, and by far the largest to me,
and that is myself.
-Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass
Consciousness-the state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings; the fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world. Notice the word aware.
How aware are you?
Do you notice things?
Do you notice yourself?
As children some of us were trained to be “grown-ups.” By grown-up I mean, dutiful, largely denying our emotions, numbing our pain and crossing off task lists. Or some refuse to grow up and kick and scream and hold on to their addictions and ways in an attempt to fly from responsibility. Neither one of these seems appealing.
This push to become “grown-up” may have happened in several ways. “Stop crying, that’s what baby’s do!” “Don’t be so silly!” “Of course it hurts and isn’t fair, that’s life! Get over it!” “Stay positive!” “Don’t ever let them see you cry.” “Work harder!” “Do better!” I could go on and on. Many of us have achieved all of this and more all the while ignoring how we feel and the emptiness inside.
You see, becoming real requires reality. With all it’s mess and beauty and terror. We have to face life as it is or we cannot become real.
Grown-up training says “keep everything under control and you can create your own world, your own illusion.”
Adult becoming is different. It is the moving inward and outward. It takes courage. Messages such as “Oh, you seem sad. Do you need a hug?” or “Life is hard sometimes and doesn’t seem fair, I struggle with that too.” “You don’t have to be positive right now, what you just experienced was really hard.” “Do you want to talk about it?” “It’s good to be real, to say how you really are.” “Maybe it’s time to put the task list down and play for awhile.” These messages help us to honor and be awake to our inner experience in order to make us more self-less.
See, when you and I are safe in our own skin, we’re safe.
And then we can freely share with others.
All of our true selves.
This is good.
So how do we go about this? I talk a lot with my clients about slowing the whole process down and by that I mean, to be in tune with what you are feeling and acknowledge it and regulate it instead of just reacting to it. For instance, your kids are being disrespectful. In the past you just blew your cool and put them in their place, saying things you wish you didn’t and yelling at them like a bear awakened from slumber. What if there was a different way? Say you notice as the kids are disrespecting you that you are feeling very angry and out of control. This pushes your buttons because as a kid you were disrespected and could do little about it. Of course disrespectful kids make you angry, make you want to pull out your hair, but the intensity at which you feel it is from years and years of not being respected.
So you tap in to this.
You slow down.
You say, “of course I am angry, I hate being disrespected, however I have a choice over how I react right now.”
You calmly, firmly tell your child they may not talk to adults that way and send them to their room only later to get on your knees and talk to them about what they were really feeling like they needed.
Adult like. Real like. Connected. Congruent.
This is how we want to live.
Content with ourselves because we are so awake to who that is and all of the nuances that go with it.
You’ve got this! Try it this week. Slow down the process. Reach in and ask yourself, “What am I really feeling? Where is this coming from? What do I need? What can I do about it?”
See what happens!
I would love to hear all about it!