In the last post, I discussed the idea that we often are the ones holding us back from being our most magnificent selves. We do this in many different ways, depending largely on methods we were taught to use by our parents, caregivers, siblings, and early friends. We have loop reels of negative self-talk rolling in our heads most of the time, we tend to doubt ourselves regularly, we self-deprecate to our friends, and underestimate our prowess to any audience who’ll listen. But one of the more subtle techniques we frequently use to disempower ourselves or keep us stuck is our own self-awareness.
Now, I know – you’re thinking, “Damn. I thought ‘knowing myself’ was supposed to be a good thing!” And generally speaking, I’d say you are more right than not right about that. Exploring yourself, and discovering the you that you carry with you (often too closely to sense) is a necessary project for almost all humans. Otherwise, we spend too much time bumbling around and being dissatisfied and blaming it all on forces outside us.
However, there is a difference, between knowing yourself and canonizing yourself. To know yourself is to look within, and explore who you are, and how you work, and to be present in your own processes. To canonize yourself is to make a claim (based on “knowing” or not) for how you always already are. To know yourself is to take note of your movements in relationship to the events of your life. To canonize yourself is to write in stone how you will respond in every foreseeable situation, and to manipulate the events of your life to confirm and conform to a static version of yourself.
Knowing yourself has some real advantages, but almost all of them are lost if you only use that knowledge to limit yourself.
You might be holding yourself back with how well you “know” yourself if you’re saying any of the following:
- “I always… [get sick, get taken advantage of, etc.]”
- “I never… [win, get to do what I want, etc.] “
- “I’m just a… [neat freak, addictive personality, etc.]”
- “I can’t…”
- “I don’t…”
- “I won’t…”
- Or any other “universal truth” about how you are and always will be, or about the way life works for you.
But, lucky you – today you have brought yourself a brand new opportunity to reacquaint yourself with yourself. That’s right folks, today, you can give yourself a get-out-of-self-free card any time you feel the desire to look at yourself from a fresh perspective. Today, you have been given full license to rediscover yourself – forget your biases, make no assumptions, and take nothing for granted.
Pretend you have no habits and see how long you can get away with it. Act as if you have never met yourself but have always wanted to. Forget everything you ever knew about how you respond to life. Take yourself in for the first time. Give yourself an exclusive interview with You. Experience your being-ness from a place of wonder, and exploration. Be a novice to your own existence. Chances are you’ll discover that there is more to you than you were previously allowing, and more to life than you had yet been willing to allow.
Try it for a day and you will change your thinking about yourself. Practice it everyday and you will change your life.
Want to turn up your experience of ecstasy in life? Pretend you are an alien trying everything on Earth for the very first time. Allow yourself the richness of every sensation in all of your experiences. Be open to everything as a sublime gift. For example — eat a single raisin as slowly as you can; peel a grape; watch a bee pollinate a flower; savor a sunset; wish on the first star you see tonight…