“It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.”
Michelangelo, when asked how he sculpted “David,” answered, “I just chipped away all the marble that did not look like a man.”
Similarly, we can, perhaps, find our real selves by chipping away what is not truly us. Let us explore the possibilities so that we may understand the fundamental principles of who we are, using this process of self-discovery.
Am I my actions?
No, I am not my actions. I am that which acts. My actions are the means I choose to fulfill my outcomes.
Am I my body?
No, I am not my body. My body is merely the instrument through which I function.
Am I my mind?
No, I am not my mind. For my mind is but a human-computer that receives the data of my five senses. My mind is the instrument through which my awareness functions.
Am I my awareness?
No, I am not my awareness. I am that which is aware. My awareness is the sum of my life experiences, for I function through my awareness.
Then what am I?
I am a man or a woman — a unique being who portrays many roles in life. My external behaviors are connected to my internal psychology through my powers of awareness, guided by the process of self-exploration.
You are a work in progress and will be until the day you die. That is the journey of life: Mining your mind until the end.
What is mind? Mind is a force, a tool through which your intellectual and emotional centers can communicate with your will. To work on oneself, you must be in constant communication with your mind. Through self-exploration, hopefully, you will find the joy and excitement of constantly working on yourself to attain enlightenment. You will need finer tools and instruments to reach this state of being. You will need a different approach.
“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.”
- Albert Einstein
You must start by asking yourself questions. Questions are the lifeblood of self-exploration. Real questions arise from a deep need and inner search. These questions should be practical so they can lead to useful answers and new beginnings toward your inner growth and self-exploration. Be naive with your questions. Ask yourself questions with attainable answers that result from a little inner searching. Instead of “Why am I here?” ask “What steps am I taking right now that will move me toward my goals?” Start with smaller, practical questions that have easily recognizable answers, and put them into practice now. The answers to your questions are the solutions to your problems.
You must recognize the need to work on your self. This is a precondition and a work in and of itself. You must realize that you are in question. You are working on yourself all the time.
The ordinary person must work on himself daily if the possibility is to exist for that person to become a conscious transformed being. By observing yourself, you can see over and over again that you are in a mechanical state. How then do you begin to turn off the autopilot? The first requirement for self-exploration is to question EVERYTHING and to draw your OWN conclusions, based on your observations.
The second requirement for self-exploration is to stop criticizing and blaming yourself, regardless of what undesired characteristics or motivations you discover And there will be some. But you must proceed with your inner search. When you become aware that you have done the best you could with the tools you had to work with, regardless of your mistakes, you can discover how and why you act and react as you do. Only then can you make meaningful progress in expanding your awareness.
The third requirement for self-exploration is to maintain an active awareness of yourself and your surroundings. To see how incomplete you are, how you drift from one direction to the other, brings the recognition that you must work on yourself. This very important condition for starting your process of self-exploration requires seriousness, honesty, and a possessed state to drive you.
With self-exploration, we can see ourselves as others see us. This exercise is a tool to gain an awareness of yourself and will serve as a guide in your self-exploration.
Observe, question, and think about each of the following areas of self-exploration. Then, draw your own conclusions based on your observations.
Explore the following:
- Your Thoughts and Mental Pictures:
All actions are preceded by a thought and a picture, conscious or not. Once you become aware of the thoughts and pictures that drive your actions, you will be in greater control of your outcomes.
2. Your Triggers:
What are the belief systems behind your thoughts and mental pictures? What triggered your thoughts and where are they leading you?
3. Your Speech:
Everything you say is significant, probably much more than you realize. Be observant of what you say. Ask yourself — Why did I say that? Was it to request or share information? Was it to express or elicit an emotion? Was it to feed your inner critic or be critical of others? In other words, what is the need behind everything you say? Examine everything you say honestly and carefully, without judgment.
4. Your Needs, Desires, and Objectives:
Your needs, desires, objectives and their implications can perhaps tell you more about yourself than any other area. Are they valid? Are they distorted? Are they constructive or destructive?
5. Your Emotional Reactions:
Your emotional reactions can be most revealing if you will take the time and effort to examine them without bias or judgment.
6. Your Addictions:
All compulsive actions are indicative of a cycle of habitual behavior that can be broken by awareness and self-observation. Ask yourself — why am I compulsive about this? What specific emotion is responsible for this compulsive action (i.e. depression-overeating)?
7. Your Wishes:
Explore your wishes by asking yourself — What are the needs of my wishes? What actions have I taken towards making my wishes a reality? What actions will I take today? Make a 30-day plan. Positive outcomes are wishes brought to fruition through a great attitude and ACTION!
Certainly the more we strive to explore and understand the characters we play, the greater our awareness of human behavior will be. Once you become seriously involved in self-exploration, you will find there is no adventure more exciting and more rewarding! You will never become bored if you maintain an active interest in self-discovery. Because you are creating the character that is the star in your play of life!
Don’t be afraid to drink from the fountain of youth. YOUR MIND!