10 Reflections To Help You Find Your Soul.
Whether by God’s grace or not, I am over-the -moon excited that I have finally discovered my soul.
For too long I’ve been a childish twat with a very curious knack of avoiding it. But, we had a sit down. He talked, and I cried. There were more tears later that night, and by the end, I discovered who I am.. and who I wasn’t being.
Today I am more driven to live with a purpose. I’m shaping my identity, and, understanding my relationship with the world. When asked the question, “how did you come to discover your soul”? I think, overtime, these 10 self reflections helped me the most. They didn’t all happen at once, and you could say that these short recaps, are more or less, writings of my own journey in life. But hey, take it for what it’s worth, perhaps they will help you on your own journey as well.
#1. Explore and understand your ancestry.
Right off the bat, knowing your family ancestry is helpful. Its not necessary, however, your families migration history onto the land you currently reside on (i.e. U.S.), will become helpful information in your search as it was in mine.
Some history is easy to trace, some is complicated, but everyones is different. Some cultures believe we should live as an extension of our ancestral history, some detach from the past and embrace the now. And, some have had their history completely stolen and can’t identify with where they are.
Personally, I discovered my family history was quit nomadic because of wars ranging across Europe to Asia. This history effected me directly as a first generation American trying to find myself. I experienced language barriers with immediate family, irregular family interaction, cultural repatterning, cultural attachment/ detachment issues, and social assimilation complexes. My exploration into my family history began later in life. Causing both excitement and disturbance in the discoveries. Sure, there was pain, but my ancestry is out of my control. I’m moving forward and what I can’t change… I can certainly learn from. Whatever yours may be, it helps to know your past when defining your future.
#2. Move away from home early. At least once, and do it for awhile.
Leaving your home/ comfort zone is more then just hopping on a plane to Puerto Vallarta and taking selfies at Señor Frogs. It’s leaving home for personal growth. And sorry, there is no telling if it will take one trip or many. The comforts of an unchallenged world are neither healthy or unhealthy. Unless of course they are completely false. Traveling for lengthy periods of time, tends to change our perspective of what is real and what’s B.S.
For me, I come from a international family. The idea of travel was established as soon as my feet and brain agreed that my body was coming along for the ride. Yet, I feel I truly “LEFT” my comfort zone when I seen America’s 9/11, on my first day in Australia - some 16 years ago. This experience challenged me to live through a catastrophe via a perspective unlike most Americans at home. While I was seeing America from a different vantage point. Many at home were comfortable hearing what they wanted to hear. I returned home and discovered something was different. My relationships had changed. I developed an observation of my communities health. And, I was able to discuss differences of opinions with confidence. Life had changed, not because of the event, but because of my location. The interaction with a population with a completely different paradigm of what is truth, is what forced me out of my comfort zone.
The only other way I can explain how helpful this was for me, is that moving away from your hometown, even just once, will be like learning a new language without knowing you’re getting schooled.
#3. Have you had your heart broken in a intimate relationship?
The language of Love is exactly that, a language. I urge you to take the time with your partner to see if you are actually speaking the same language. Because, if one of you haven’t truly experienced a heart break from a former partner…then a world of pain is ahead of you.
Now, I welcome a broken heart like I welcome kidney stones. It isn’t something you seek out like a teenager jonesing to lose their virginity.
Unfortunately, like stones, there is no easy way out of this experience either if you want to be a good life partner some day.
Here are the cold, hard facts. Men hardly talk about their heartbreak. Maybe it’s a cultural macho-ism thing, but women are far more likely to… A) Talk about their broken heart, and B) Allow themselves to have their heart broken in the first place.
Early in life, I gave my heart away to a close friend. I couldn’t even tell her I loved her out loud because I was so nervous, so I scribbled it in the sand for her. She ended up ghosting me (before ghosting was a word) for many years. I brushed it off, John Wayned my emotions, and moved on. Expressing myself is still hard to do, to this day. The reinforcement to do so by today’s male culture isn’t helping anyone either.
Until recently, I never gave my heart away in relationships. It wasn’t that I didn’t want a healthy relationship. (Perhaps I was scarred). Traveling took up most of my life, and commitment wasn’t an option. The catch 22 for me was that even though I lived a less complicated life, I never learned how to open up emotionally. Or, pursue those gut-feelings about a person for longer then I care to admit. My choices protected me from developing life experiences that are mandatory for individuals looking to be a good life partner. Reflecting on my tango with love helped me open up to myself, and partners down the road.
#4. You are an emotional being.
Let’s be honest….Not everyone is as emotionally cool as the Dali Lama or The Fonz. When confronted with adversity, historically, our primal instinct was “fight or flight”. Fast forward through some ice age’s and you’ll see that there are far more ways, we as humans, emotionally respond to adversity these days.
My emotional map was as predictable as an agitated bronco for a long time. Until I discovered 7 other F-words to help me in situations that caused my emotions to spike. which are — Follow, Flounder, Forget, Fix, Found, Faith and Fuck-it.
I’m a logical thinking kind of guy, with an emotional way of explaining myself. And today, I respond to adversity usually within the Fixer/Founder category. Knowing these 7 F -words has helped me understand my personality, character, discovering my purpose, and down to even the simple recognition of knowing my skill sets, when punching out a resume.
So the next time you experience or hear of adversity amongst your community, be sure to observe how you emotionally respond. Is it in tune with who you want to be? Who you thought you were? Because we all know the world isn’t short of adversity, but challenging our emotions is half the battle.
#5. Understanding your social privileges.
As a Caucasian, straight-as-an-arrow, male, we (generally speaking), have the least grip of reality. I’ll leave it with that, because, you know… life has been tough for us lately. (wink, wink)
On a more serious note.. This is what I do know. There are people reading this essay who have more privileges, equal privileges and less privileges than me right now. So, here’s my long-short answer for this important reflection.
Having a PRIVILEGE is having access to certain COMFORTS. Comforts are MAN MADE constructions used to avoid the harsh reality of LIFE. Which comes hand in hand with DEATH. And death is the mother of all MYSTERIES.
To explain this mystery; early humans created COMFORTABLE ideas for easing the pain of death by using their special gift. INTELLECT.
Intellect developed TECHNOLOGY, creating new comforts that distanced ourselves from the reality of death.
But our PRIMAL FEAR(fear of death) wasn’t gone. Instead of fearing death, we evolved to fear losing comforts. And, formed an EMOTION when having certain comforts; called HAPPINESS. Comforts that brought happiness were than VALUED. And those having comforts were perceived to be FORTUNATE or Privileged.
A CIVILIZED WORLD was brewing as humans moved around the earth. Comforts like fire, the wheel and gunpowder were seen for the first time and perceived as MAGIC. For many without these early privileges so called Magic was now revered.
The exchange of ‘magic’ developed into COMMERCE AND TRADE. Giving rise to various ECONOMIC SYSTEMS. As well as much, much, more complicated societal POWER struggles between humans grasping for an easier life.
But what happened to talking about death? It was mostly leveraged by creating RELIGIONS. And we all know that having FAITH got you some mega privilege points, even if it cost you your culture, your identity, or your life.
So, why is being aware of your privilege so important? The Black Lives Matter organization pressed this question for me. Coupled with reading a lot of Taoism, and other philosophical books years prior. I was willing to examine myself critically. Which is a good first step. I also started to expose myself to the philosophy of Native American teachings. In time, I came to the awareness that having privileges provides happiness, but not TRUTH. Truth helps you find a completely different life goal. FREEDOM. Once you find freedom, you can choose to ACCEPT your privileges. Or, can still be COMPLETE if they are taken away. Since it was my privileges that allowed me to see this truth, I decided I will not be a person that obstructs another their pursuit of happiness. They will in their own time, come to understand that truth will be the source of their freedom, from PAIN.
#6 Give “Stranger-danger” culture the “Bird”.
If you were in grade school in the US during the 80’s like me; you may recall the commonly discussed “Stranger Danger”program. From bus stops to commercials to school meetings; our educational system tried to teach this “great American Motto”! To “protect us” from abductions and all the nasty people in the world. Luckily, I was sick that day. Unfortunately, most American’s were not.
Yes, I agree that there are bad things that go on in this world. I’m fortunate that I, nor any of my family, have been maimed by unrecoverable harm. But, institutionalizing a fear campaign that murderous terroist’s walk our streets, isn’t being responsible. But as a society we still love to market this culture.
We can thank the stranger-danger generation for the increased crime, excessive force violence, urban sprawl, and our social media addiction epidemic.
Fast forward to 9/11. The fallout of these events showcased how our national infrastructure was even less intact then the aftermath of the event. That’s a tough sentence to write, but the truth is that our country was primed to fear everything and anyone, even before 9/11. I saw the fallout from an outsiders perspective and it was incredible to watch it unfold. ‘’Stranger Danger’’ was a big part of how Americans responded. What was scarier was seeing Australia (the land of the friendly Aussie’s) adopt the same fear campaign. Over a 2 year period Down Under, I literally watched a country’s identity change… It’s heartbreaking really.
A friend once told me, “it takes a village to make an individual”. And, If the leaders are scaring us into not going outside of our own homes, we aren’t anywhere close to having a healthy individual, let alone a healthy village. So sure, it’s important to have good relations with your in-laws, but your most important conversation might be with your neighbor.
#7. Would you die for your country? Today?
This question challenged me deeply while in Standing Rock, just a few months ago. Watching Americans stand off against other Americans. It was like a civil war. I’m not going to tell you how I answered the question, but having vets to retired cops, strangers, friends and family weigh in on such an important subject created many good conversations with mixed responses.
At the end of the day, I learned that there are many reasons why people go to “War”, but only few reasons why some are willing to die. Country was not on the list. So is going to war different then willing to die for your country?
Read further here if you want to see my thoughts on what “war” means to me.
#8. Does Technology Define Who You Are?
Shakespeare in Hamlet asks “To be or not to be, that is the greatest question”. Does technology decided this question for us in the future? Are we beings if we become dependent on technology to live? For many technology is the only reason we haven’t gone from one world into the other. I often question does that mean we’ve taken technology too far. Juan Enriques touches on this conversation. Check out his TedTalks, he will either make you shit your pants or convince you to increase those IROTH deposits now in prep for the future.
Science and the spiritual world will always have their little tiffs on what a being is. The way I responded to this reflection is like most of these reflections. No one has “The Answer”. As smart as Juan is, he’s theory is based on his opinions of what truth is. Are our technological advances creating a false narrative of what is real? Have we been radically evolving too far into the intellectual nature of humans and forgetting something? Is there Spirit and does living through this lens create alternative options for a way of life? Remember this one cause it’s a conversation that will be the future.
#9. What is your relationship with the land?
One of the most influential books for me was Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. In this philosophical fantasy, Ishmael (a gorilla), refers to humans as either being “Takers” or “Leavers”. A “Taker” is someone who treats the earth and it’s inhabitants as a commodity. A “Leaver” is someone who lives amongst the earth as an equal. It was a powerful book that helped me understand what kind of human I want to be.
For a long time, I thought I was doing a good job of being a “Leaver”. Which means that I wasn’t taking more then I needed from the earth. But, sadly my actions weren’t being practiced at my core as much as I thought. The idea of the land being my home, had me reflect. Do I actively take care of the land as I take care of my house? We have a duty everyday to be mindful of what is happening to the land.
Using metaphors can help change our thinking. For example, If I make deposits into my bank account, there will be money available. If I plant native trees, then I will breath. It’s not always as simple to practice. Especially when when doing good comes hand in hand with doing damage. Like using machines to clean rivers. Reflect on how you connect with the land at a national level, will create a new sense of identity for you. I promise.
#10. Are you ready for a Relationship
Allowing myself to be vulnerable with my partner is one of the most difficult things for me to do in a relationship. Probably because it’s a double whammy of communicating your needs as much as your fears. Thankfully, practicing this skill has opened doors for better communication and a stronger relationship.
For men of all stereotypes, being vulnerable looks and feels like we’re presenting that soft underbelly that makes us weak. Stop thinking this way. For women, in currently a male driven world, pursuit of their ambitions and instincts is a hurdle. Also, Stop thinking this way. Succumbing to these vulnerabilities means that you aren’t communicating at your truest self. This will cause you only to stray further away from that elusive soul of yours.
Also, knowing how to be an individual before you can be in a relationship is kinda helpful. Having relationships is healthy, but so is developing yourself first. Even if that means you’re 25, not married, and no kids.
If relationships aren’t working, you (1) probably haven’t found yourself;(2) You haven’t been vulnerable to changing parts of yourself or; (3) you’re with someone that doesn’t gel with what your soul needs. When you are confident to be the truest version of yourself (and you can communicate that). You will begin to eliminate expectations. Then in turn, you will attract someone on the same frequency. And perhaps with a little work, that will grow.
Thanks for reading, and I hope these 10 reflections have helped you in some way. I’m certain there are hundreds of others out there, so share yours which have helped you in the comments below. Cheers!
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